We live in a city where you often see adults with limb differences lying on street corners. They might be playing an instrument, singing, or painting characters with a paintbrush between their teeth. What they all have in common is a metal bowl sitting next to them to collect small bills. They beg for a living. People stand around and stare.
Our family gets stared at a fair amount, but it has intensified the past few weeks. People just don’t know what to do with us…we don’t all look the same and we go against the cultural norm. (Where we live, staring is not considered impolite. When you don’t know what to do with something, you just stare at it.) Usually, I take the stares in a stride. It is part of living here. I hate to admit that the past few weeks have been harder for me. The momma bear in me raises her ugly head when it is my son’s leg that is being stared at.
We were out for an evening walk in our loaner stroller (High five to a great expat community who is coming to our aid and helping us with our needs!) when we came past two grannies sitting on a bench. They live in our apartment complex and I have seen them a few times. I knew right away that they wanted to talk about Little Man’s leg. I started to bristle until my sweet four year old reached his hand over to the woman. They held hands as we talked.
“What happened to his leg?” she asked, and I answered with our standard reply, “He was born this way.”
“Oh, you are such a good person.” Again, I have a standard response for this common statement. “No. He is a good person and I am happy to have him in our family.”
“He is your son?”
“Yes, we have four children.”
This is where the conversation took a twist. Usually the conversation turns to how crazy I am to have so many children and how tired I must be! HA! I have a standard reply for that conversation too! Instead, my son, interrupted.
“Want to see my booboo? I can walk, but I am hurt right now.” I guess the English word booboo translates into Chinese because she understood! 🙂 He pulled up his pant leg and stuck out his residual limb to this unsuspecting granny. I felt myself cringe and I prepared my heart for the look of horror that would most likely come across her face. I had seen it so many times as folks stood around staring at us, staring at his missing leg.
That granny….she leaned down looked at his leg and while holding his hand said, “I am sorry you are hurt.”
Tears sprang to my eyes at the sweet, gentle nature of this old woman. To add to the healing power her words had on my soul, she looked up at me and said, “This boy will bring so much music to your home.”
I laughed as she told my son to be thankful he had a home to play music in and he would never play music on the street. Only a Chinese granny can be sweet and then fuss at you in the same sentence!
We live in a city where limb difference is equated with life on a street corner. To the man who helped me carry the large stroller off the bus, to the mom at the bus stop who told her son not to stare, to the granny who held my son’s hand…thank you. Thank you for going against the cultural norm.
Update: Little Man is doing much better.
The sore on his leg is finally starting to heal and this momma is breathing easier after two phone calls to our team of doctors in the States. I can’t say enough about Shriner’s Hospital in Tampa. They are just amazing! We still are unsure what the next month will hold, but we are confident that Little Man will have the best of care. This coming week the surgeon is reviewing x-rays that we sent to him from here. High five to technology!
The antibiotics are done, the pain has subsided, now the hardest part for our little guy…not being able to wear his prosthetic! It is hard for such an active guy to be slowed down. Thank you to everyone who is pr.ying for him!