Pool time without questions

by Jen Lee Reeves on June 2, 2014 · 11 comments

in 2014, Stares, Swimming

We are in our second year attending a pool near our neighborhood. We joined as members and are pretty excited about the year-round access to the tennis courts. But it’s officially summer (even though school doesn’t end until Thursday) and that means we’re swimming A LOT. Our new pool is a super social space for both kids. A lot of their school friends swim there and I don’t have to keep them occupied. They’re growing up and getting to a point where they don’t even swim much together because they have their own little social swimming circles.

The funny thing is, I haven’t even thought about the challenge pool times presents to us at times… New kids and adults mean more questions and potential staring and pointing for Jordan. For some reason, this concern didn’t even pop into my mind this year. It’s our second summer at this pool. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t new members. I guess we just eased into the season so well, it didn’t pop into my head.

But it popped into Jordan’s head. I told her one of our Born Just Right families told me her son is doing a great job explaining his limb different at the pool. We were talking about that when Jordan mentioned how no one has asked her questions at the pool yet.

“They must be scared to ask.”

I asked her why she thinks people are scared to ask. Jordan says it’s because there’s usually someone with a question. So whoever that person is, he or she is too scared. I gave her an alternate reason. What if she’s so comfortable playing at the pool and swimming around, none of the kids feel the need to ask questions. She’s doing great. She’s having fun. She’s showing them how a limb difference can’t stop you from hanging out at the pool.

Maybe it’s a little bit of both. I don’t know. I hope I’m correct.

Either way, we’re having a lot of fun at the pool. No questions. No pointing. No staring. Just fun.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia June 2, 2014 at 1:26 pm

This post is coming at such an appropriate time. I need some hope that this will eventually get easier! I don’t mind the questions we are bound to get about my 17 month old’s missing left arm, but how do I deal with those kids that follow us around and keep bugging us about it!! I really don’t want to be rude to 6,7, or 8 year old, but OMG. A friend that was with us finally looked at this kid and said “you need to stop, he is going to be just fine with one arm”!

Crystal June 2, 2014 at 1:48 pm

First off, school isn’t out yet ?? All those snow days I guess. We did get slammed with snow a lot this year. Anyways, I’m so happy for Jordan! I can’t wait until we get to that point. I bet it’s really nice for her to play without explaining. :) I really don’t mind the questions, I mind the kids making fun of Miss Maddie. Did you guys go through that at any point? With Maddies older brother playing baseball, we travel to different towns who don’t know about Maddie and her arm. I overhear some other kids saying how gross Maddie is, her arm is disgusting…and to run away from the one armed girl. :( It’s really been getting to me the last couple of weeks. At 2 years old I really didn’t expect to need to deal with this until school age. Now I just feel like this is a glimpse of what is to come.

Jen Lee Reeves June 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Julia and Crystal,
It is the older kids who are so difficult. Especially seven and eight-year-olds for some reason. (Jordan is eight – it was an age I feared when she was younger. I was right to fear it. ;-) )

I handle obnoxious kids in layers… it depends on my patience level for the day.
Level 1: Kindly mention she’s going to be just fine and if they take a moment to step back and watch, they’ll notice our little girl can do everything she wants to do. One hand doesn’t hold her back.
Level 2: Mention how everyone is different and how would they feel if someone talked about them with the words they are using.
Level 3: Ask the child if he or she can introduce me to his or her mom. I have a short talk about how every kid is different and it would be awesome if they could help me with that lesson.
Level 4: If the parent won’t get involved (and seriously, that’s happened to me), I have to step away and just feel sad that this child is missing a chance to learn that some people are different. And in this world, the more we learn about differences at a young age, the kinder we will be when we grow up.

By the way – sometimes I skip to Level 4 if I don’t feel like being a teacher.

sisters from another mister June 3, 2014 at 10:03 am

Summer fun – just as it should be.
And her smile … like sunshine!

liz June 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm

This post came at the best time for me. We had a pool incidnet this past weekend where we were being followed by 4 year olds asking over and over about why my daughter has only one hand. I answered as you had suggested and told her she is ok with her hand, etc.. its just exhausting explaining it over and over again and the parents werent involved either- which Iis annoying!
Last month we were at a family party where a family friends son was walking around with one if his arms tucked in laughing while my daughter was happy playing. I waited for his mom to say anything..she was no where to be found and I finally just said pls dont do that that is not nice…she doesnt have two hands it could hurt her feelings and he stopped.
I need help dealing with issues with mostly other children. I never act upset around my daughter but it hurts to hear and see these things….
Any comments and advice is

Raelyn June 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Jen….
“What if she’s so comfortable playing at the pool and swimming around, none of the kids feel the need to ask questions. She’s doing great. She’s having fun. She’s showing them how a limb difference can’t stop you from hanging out at the pool.” That explanation works for me!! I am so very glad that Jordan’s time at the pool has been positive!! ;)
Love you later, Raelyn

Paula June 8, 2014 at 10:02 pm

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4238501,00.html

I saw this article and thought of you. This young woman is serving in the Israeli army with an arm difference! I know it’s in Hebrew, but you can copy the text and paste it into Google translate. It works pretty well.

Jen Lee Reeves June 10, 2014 at 9:51 am

Thank you, Paula!

Jen Lee Reeves June 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

Liz, I learn a lot about how to react to kids by watching Jordan. She lets things slide if they don’t affect or bother her. Instead of angry, I feel sad for kids who don’t get it. Every once and a while there is a child who just CANNOT let it go. And I have to take a deep breath and walk away from that child. I do not approach unless it is affecting me or Jordan. I have noticed some kids will pretend she have a shorter arm not as a way to make fun of Jordan but as a way to feel like they fit in with her. I’ve seen that many times. I’m so surprised to hear of a little guy making fun of your daughter. I’m so sorry about that. I think you handled it well.

Jordan and I were at the baseball field recently to watch her brother play ball when a little four-year-old kept walking by us. I did’t notice until the fourth walk by that she was just staring at Jordan. I looked at her and said: “It isn’t nice to stare. It’s a lot nicer to ask questions. You’re allowed to ask, but not allowed to stare.” Jordan looked at me and said: “Well, that was awkward.” Maybe it was, but the little girl came back around again and started asking questions. She and Jordan ended up playing in the dirt. I never saw that little girl’s parents… they must have been somewhere nearby but they never got involved.

Jen Lee Reeves June 10, 2014 at 10:00 am

Julia, We’ve had the “follow the one-handed kid” situation before. And I have walked right in front of the clan and said, “if you want to play with her, play with her. But you cannot follow her around. She is as able as you are. Let her play.”

Jen Lee Reeves June 10, 2014 at 10:02 am

Crystal, I have heard the mean comments before. The whispers, the pointing, the comments when we are in new settings. I feel like living our lives and hanging out at the baseball field just being ourselves teaches those people how the one-hand life isn’t a big deal. I often start playing catch with Jordan just to show them she’s as able to join in on baseball as any other kid. (She’s better at catching grounders than pop-fly balls.) I pick my battles and let our actions say more than choosing to counter every comment. Hang in there!!

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