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Questions, questions, oh, so many questions!

February 20, 2010

Queenie has started to ask “What’s this?” about everything. Wait, did I say ask or shout? Yes, she shouts. Especially when we are outside. She shouts or screams or squeals. Most passer-byers think it is cute. I usually do, too. At any rate, she squeals and points at everything and anything. If she knows what it is she will tell me what it is about a million times while I answer, “Yes, baby doll, yes, I see the zapatos (shoes). Um-hmm, those are cars. Vroom, vroom. Yes, honey, yes, I see the wow-wow.” When she doesn’t know what it is or can’t image what it could be (she has a GREAT imagination, truly. She saw a big tractor thing working on the intercity rail today and because it had this giant tube going into the ground she gasped and shouted, “Dee-dee (elephant)!”) she yells at me, “Was dis?” She really slurs the words together to the point that no one understands her except Principe and myself, which is fine. I’m just excited that she is asking questions. Two word questions. That’s good enough for me. We’ve come a long way, baby.

And today, quite frankly, I was grateful for her not being able to speak all the words and questions that are roaming through her very curious toddler head. I was grateful because, as we walked up to the register to purchase a bath mat I noticed the sales lady only had one hand. Her right hand was non-existant with five mangle nubs coming from her wrist to make up her fingers. She had nails on all of them, very nicely manicured, in fact, which only reminded me that I should manicure my own, but it was very obvious that she didn’t have a hand. My immediate thought was, “Oh, boy, the day Queenie can actually talk with everyone able to understand her….how do you deal with these situations?”

As Queenie was actually standing on this intermediate shelf that they had placed between the floor and the desk top, she could clearly see the woman and I could actually she her little brain working its way around the fact that the lady’s hand was different from her own. Queenie wouldn’t take her eyes off of the hand except when the sales lady smiled and talked to her. Then she looked up with a face of awe and wonder before dropping her eyes again to see again that there was a difference between her hand and that of the sales lady. Inside I was grateful for Queenie’s inability to verbally ask questions as I was not prepared to answer them nor was I prepared on how to act in such a situation. If Queenie had been able to ask a question or had thought to point to the lady’s hand and even say something in her Queenie talk, I am not sure what I would have done. And I am not sure what the proper thing to do is.

On one hand I wonder if the lady would even be embarrassed about an innocent child asking questions about her hand. Perhaps not. Perhaps she would rather a child ask a question and have the whole mystery out of the way rather than just continue to stare. Perhaps she would rather that a mother explain quietly about birth defects and tell the child to stop pointing and that everyone is different and change the topic. But then perhaps she would rather the child neither point nor ask or say anything and would rather the mother also ignore the whole topic.

Two days ago we came across a woman in a wheelchair. A really cool, electric one that could turn on a dime and Queenie was in awe. I’m sure she was wondering why her own stroller couldn’t do that. She squealed, “Oh, wow!” while pointing at the chair and asked me her one question. I told her it was a chair for people who either can’t walk or have problems walking. The answer seemed to satisfy her enough, but she was still fascinated by how quickly the woman could turn and get through the half-way crowded sidewalk. The interesting thing to me was that this woman was not amused what-so-ever by this curly-headed two-year old being fascinated by her wheelchair. When Queenie squealed “Oh, wow” the woman actually glared at her.

I guess this experience still so fresh in my memory is the reason why perhaps I wonder what I am to do a year from now when again faced with a situation such as today with the difference that Queenie can talk and be understood by all. What do other parents do? What do handicap people prefer us to do? But even asking that question is too general because the handicap people who I have known in my years never would have glared at a two-year old for exclaiming her fascination with their chair. Ever. But then, everyone is different and everyone has had different experiences in their lives that make them react differently to the attention given them by a stranger, no matter what the stranger’s age.

So I’m still confused. I guess I’ll just have to see how I react the day that it all comes together and hope that I am not hurting anyone’s feelings. In the end I guess it is the only thing any of us can do.

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