Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What does she have?

A few months ago I was in the waiting room for an appointment of mine and I had Bailee with me. She was in her adaptive stroller hanging out. As she has gotten bigger over the years, her disability is more clear, mostly because of the fact that she is in a chair and not walking on her own. People notice, it is something different.

A nice woman was sitting near us and she leaned over an politely whispered "What does she have?" I knew exactly what she was referring to...what disability, disease, or condition does Bailee have. I told her cerebral palsy, and she smiled and went on doing her thing. It was like she was asking if she had the flu, or a cold, or something, and it suddenly seemed cold in there with that simple question.

What I really wanted to say though was "She has the best smile and cutest laugh! She has lots of friends at school and teachers who care about her. She has way too many stuffed animals (mostly because of that sweet smile, it always works.) She has a great attitude about life and is always happy. She has obstacles, but she tackles them so much better than most adults I have met, and she keeps smiling throughout it. She has two parents who adore her. She has grandparents, great grandparents, aunts & uncles, and so many people in her life that do so much for her and that she touches in some way or another. She has a quirky sense of humor and tells the strangest knock knock jokes (just pretend you get them.) She has dance on Saturday mornings. She has a kind heart and is very caring. She even has 10 fingers and toes!!!!"

After I left I was thinking about how she didn't ask her name, but her condition. If a "typical" developing child was in there, she may have asked their name. We wouldn't ask a healthy person what they had, would we? We may ask someone how many kids they have, but it seems we only ask what someone has when referring to a problem, disease, illness, condition, or disability. I am guilty of it too. It is our curiosity. I am okay with people wanting to know more about Bailee, but I just don't like it being limited to a condition. That isn't what she is. It doesn't define her. Its just a thing. So, ask questions please, but get to know the person too. Don't stop interacting once your curiosity has been satisfied. There is more to a person than "cerebral palsy" or "the flu." There is more to Bailee...and so many people who know her know this.