A story of educating a child on appearances and how we are all the same.

Your child will probably be exposed to a variety of new sights in the community that they may have never seen before in your home, playground or in school.  These new sights often catch a child off guard and may lead to awkward comments and staring.  Given my line of work I have always been comfortable and did not give much thought about being around individuals who did not look or act the same as myself.

Until the day I was out shopping at Lowe’s.  There I was looking through the hardware section when my daughter said loud enough for the world to hear “Mom, look there is a monkey in the store.”  I felt my face turn bright red and my palms begin to sweat.  What could my daughter possibly be looking at that would make her say this?  As I braced myself, I turned around to see a little person with dark hair and a beard.  Other terms such terms as dwarf, little person, LP, and person of short stature are all considered acceptable.  I began explaining to my daughter that adults come in all shapes and sizes.  Even though this man was shorter then mommy and daddy he was still an adult man.  I also explained that sometimes men choose to grow facial hair called mustaches and beards.  Then in the innocence of a child’s mind, she processed the information and said “Oh I get it he is a little monkey man!” Now I went from shocked to mortified as I sat there having this conversation with my daughter while he was listening to us.  At this point I wanted to turn and run out of the store.  But what message would this be sending to my daughter.  Instead I decided for us to walk over to the man and introduce ourselves and ask his name.  I wanted her to understand he was just like us.  I wanted her to be accepting and loving of others for their differences and not to be scared and run away from them.

By:  Shannon Davis PT, DPT