As adults, we should know by now that being different is a good thing. Scratch that, it’s a really good thing. Fitting into the conformity of others is not something you should do when you are a grown up and if you are, you are wasting your time.
The same goes when you are a kid. Except with kids, it can be difficult to explain this to them. So when your kid is different, especially physically, and when people get curious, that kid can have a hard time standing out when all he would want to do is blend in and feel safe.
This is how it is for one 7-year-old. Zack Robbins (left) was born with a limb difference which means he has a limb deformity. Because of this, his right hand isn’t fully formed. Limp difference comes as a result of "congenital (born with) absence or malformation of limbs." They may also result from a disease which leads to amputation or injury.
For his mother, Jill, his limb deformity has never been a problem. She adopted Zack when he was two, never thinking his deformity as an issue. But now, she is asking parents out there to teach their kids a lesson about compassion.
Jill took to Facebook to talk about compassion. In a lengthy post, she spoke about the things Zack has been going through and what has made her sad. “People, please teach your kids not to be jerks. Please.”
Jill writes how her son is getting ready for second grade. Despite his limb difference, Zack has always been active. “He plays soccer and flag football. He does martial arts. He colors. He helps me in the kitchen. He carries his own laundry basket from his bedroom down to the laundry room,” Jill writes.
But lately, Jill adds, Zack has been “afraid to go back to school.” She admits she “brushed him off” at first. “It wasn't until about thirty minutes before it was time to leave that I actually focused on his concerns.”
Jill explains that Zack is “normally confident and gregarious.” So why the sudden change in attitude towards school she asked. Her son then said, “‘People who are new to my school might stare at me and ask me questions about my little hand.’ ‘They might,’ I answered. ‘That's pretty normal, don't you think? Your little hand is pretty different than what most people are used to seeing. It's okay if they ask questions, right?’”
“Yes. It's okay if they ask questions but I get tired of saying ‘this is the way I was born.’ Is it okay if I'm tired of answering questions?” Zack then asked. Jill assured him that it was but she reminded her son that people will always be curious.
It was here that Zack then pleaded with his mother to stop kids from being mean. “Please don't let them be mean to me, Mommy,” he told her. “This is the part of the story where my heart sinks to the pit of my stomach,” Jill confessed.
It took some prodding but after a while, Zack told his mother how some kids had “taunted him at day camp” during summer. Jill explains that “he's a sensitive kid, so it's hard for me to determine whether or not it was taunting or just curiosity, based on second-hand information.”
Regardless of whether it was taunting or curiosity, Jill writes, she reminds parents to teach their kids how to be compassionate. “Ask questions and be curious about people who look different than you look,” she writes. This is normal enough but try to remember something important.
And that’s that no matter how curious you are, you should remember that “there is a living, feeling person on the other end.” One who probably has been asked that question a thousand times. One who is more than just his deformity.
Jill also addresses other parents whose kids may be different in some way. She writes, “if you have a child who is different, in any respect, keep paying attention to what they're experiencing, thinking, and feeling. Their perception of being taunted or ostracized MATTERS.”
Jill ends her post with “And please...don't let your kids be jerks. Talk to them about differences and inclusion.” What do you think about this mother’s post? She’s not turning her kid into a victim. Far from that, she seems to be reminding us that there is always a real human being behind that which makes him different.