i was just reading a post in a blog i subscribe to, and part of her post led me to the google search page she was referring to and down the page, this page caught my eye. wow. something really powerful to think about!
it's really making me think...i've never been comfortable around handicapped people. i'll admit it. the only exposure i had to them really was all the charity trips we made to crippled children's hospitals and old folks' homes as a child (mostly in okinawa, japan...but some in the US). we did a LOT of this. and i remember hating every second of it. and being really creeped out by all the children with severe disabilities...and being like 12 and not having a choice to go. and even having workers in the hospitals pose me with one of the children for pictures...putting a teen with severe brain damage or cerebral palsy, not sure exactly, on my lap for a picture. this was completely freaky to me as a child. it didn't sit well with me and i suspect this might be part of why i have a hard time dealing with handicapped people as an adult.
i want my kids to be comfortable with all types of people...the hard part is teaching them this if i'm not. i know enough not to force them into exposure in the same way i was as a child. i'm sure my parents really meant well...probably thought they were showing me to be kind to differently-abled people and such. but the institutions we visited were for some really severely handicapped people and left such deep impressions on me that were not positive. i fight this, though. i actively force myself to smile and act like its not weird for me. and someday maybe it won't be.
i remember having a little girl with down's syndrome in the nursery i worked at a few times...that was really precious. she was really cute and special and it was just a normal thing really...i surprised myself in that i learned to be mostly comfortable with her. but she was a child. a little one, at that. and it was a normal setting...not an institution. perhaps that's why it was easier for me. and perhaps that's the way to get comfortable with this sort of thing...is in normal every day living. which i've had pretty much no exposure to, as far as being around handicapped people in normal everyday living.
so the solution? hell if i know. i'm not going to go searching out a token handicapped child to befriend just to help myself over this uneasiness i feel and expose my kids to it as well. but i welcome it if it happens naturally.
i'm trying, but i don't really have any way to change this unless someone comes into our lives. and honestly, i don't know that its that important to me. i mean, it IS important to me to fight the feelings i get when i am around handicapped people...that's important. and i struggle to help my kids feel ok with it as well. but its not like i'm going to go out and volunteer my family for the special olympics or something like that. i don't really spend much time thinking about this to that degree. but posts like i just read just make me think. i'm glad i read it.
i think maybe its going to end up being like my dad and racism. he was raised to be racist by extremely racist parents. it was just natural to them. as an adult he realized it was wrong and struggle very hard against it. as a parent, he kept it hidden and managed to not at all impart these feelings to his children. i never knew at all, as a child, that my dad had any racist thoughts! in fact it shocked me when i learned later in life! he's about as anti-racist a person as i ever knew! and he taught us to love all people! so he kept those feelings hidden well and while he still may struggle with it, he knows its wrong and has pretty much managed to overcome it.
that's, i think, what i'll be doing in this situation. keeping MY feelings under wraps because i know they are wrong and i know where they come from (my childhood experiences). so i'll just do my damndest, like my dad, to not teach them to my kids and maybe through so doing i'll change my own feelings, as my dad did. :) good plan! :)