Today is the first birthday of Madeleine's leggie. Last year on this day she had her surgery, a Syme Amputation, along with two osteotomies to correct her femur and her tibia. It was a harrowing day, to say the least, for Michael and I but Madeleine fared well. I look back to that day, a year ago, and look at how far we have come. I was so worried, so scared, so uneasy, so unsure. You can resurrect those posts if you click on the June 2007 links. If I could tell myself something back then I would tell myself to relax and to understand that my daughter would become a fantastic, amazing, marvelous, capable kid!
We have been going to the wading pools in Seattle. They just 'opened' for the season and there is a vast 41 of them, or something. Nearly every neighborhood has a playground and a wading pool. Last year we couldn't take part in it because Madeleine had on her enormous spica, or body cast. So this year I was bound and determined to check it out and enjoy it. We have found a couple, okay, one, that we really like. Some of the others are too full of nannies (usually on their phones, texting and not watching their charge) or have too many big kids with squirt guns and splashing hands. I'm still hunting so I will keep you posted.
Wading pools, like shorts and skirts season, brings out a whole new challenge for those of us with children with prosthesis, and probably for adults with prosthesis too. We get asked a lot of questions. We get stared at, sometimes very rudely. We have to think about getting wet, changing socks, not leaving it in the sun, cleaning it well and the list goes on.
As a new parent of a child with a prosthesis in the summer I am learning this. I am learning how I want people to ask, to stare, to talk to me. I'm learning that saying something is better than saying nothing and staring rudely. In the last two weeks I've encountered several remarks about Madeleine's leggie. Here are some:
*What happened? Why? I'm glad I was born with two feet.
*At least she doesn't get both her knees skinned when she falls down.
*Is her leg broken? Why does she wear that?
*Why doesn't she have a foot?
*It looks like that little boy is missing one of her feet.
*Why did that happen mommy? (Mom's answer: Everyone is different but she can do everything you can, just watch her!..... way to go, red head capital hill mom! great answer)
*Your children are beautiful.
So, the lesson? Most are kind and just curious. I can appreciate that. I can also appreciate a child not knowing what to say or saying the 'wrong thing', even though it still stings. What I cannot appreciate is parents not being open or recognizing that they have a teaching moment on their hands. This is the case when the child comes up to me and no parent is in sight. WTF?
My friend Jenna has a truly incredible little boy. Not because he is an above knee amputee and can do the most extreme stuff I've ever seen a two year old do (roller skate, skate board, jump, climb, ride a scooter, climb Mt. Everest, okay I was joking on that one) but because he is a happy, mischievous, clever kid who has an insanely great personality, fabulous hair and tells contagious jokes that my twins repeat over and over.
The thing is you would never know all of that until you get past the fact that this kid is wearing an artificial leg and doing better than some other toddlers. If he weren't wearing one you'd see the rest of his talents. Madeleine is the same. This we live with and learn from.
Happy 1st Anniversary Leggie, we love you!