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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
Jim T.

Childrens acceptance

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I'd like to share a story here with you if I may.

When I first lost my leg in 1988, my two young grandsons, (8 & 9), were living with us. One day I couldn't find my crutches, so I asked if anyone had seen them. It turned out that my grandsons had them in the front yard. They had tied one leg up by a belt, and each were trying to walk on one leg and one crutch. When I asked why, their answer was very simple: "We were just trying to imagine how you felt grandpa".

The next year, after I had been fitted with my first prosthesis, my wife and I travelled from California to Missouri to see our son and his family. His 9 year old daughter wasn't aware of my leg. During that time, I would purposefully call attention to it in what I thought was some humorous way. I asked my grandaughter to pull on my foot. Fortunately it had no adverse affect, but I decided then, that was not the way to introduce a child to it. She is 25 today, and still laughs about it.

(When I am afraid of something, I put it right up in my face and stare it down. That way, I conquer it and come to grips with it. I don't try to avoid it. My amputation was no different. I was really scared to death at 52 years old then.)

So, now those young boys are grown and married with children of their own. We had decided early on not to bring up the leg until they were ready for it. Last Thanksgiving, (Nov. 25th), one of my five year old great-granddaughters asked me why I was limping, (I was tired running with all six of the great-grandchildren that day.)

I went in the house and told my grandson, that I thought it was time to answer her question directly. He agreed, so my great-grandaughter and I sat alone out on the porch steps. I explained that my foot had gotten sick and it had to be removed to keep the rest of me from getting sick also, but that was okay because they made me a new one and I am okay now.

I then rolled up my pant leg and took my leg off, showing her how well my leg was now and that I got along just fine with the new one. It was all matter of fact and positive. That was all she needed to know. But for the rest of day, just like her daddy 17 years ago, she was right beside me making sure that I had a hand to "climb" the dirt pile, and slowing down, so that she wouldn't outrun me too much. I let her "help" whether I needed it or not.

It's our little "secret", until her younger sister or any of the others, "want to know why I'm limping" again. (The 9 and 6 year olds had already been told by their parents, but have never mentioned it.)

This was a very beautiful day for my wife and I since it was the first time ever that we were able to have all six of the great-grandchildren in one place at the same time. (9-6-5-4-3-2) My little 5 year old and her acceptance made it special also.

I figure that if I approach it as positive, then it will be accepted as such. This works for us.

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:rolleyes: What a wonderful family you must have. You speak of them in a proud and loving way.

Best wishes,

Mike.

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That's a great way to approach kids. The best times I have had since my surgery was talking to kids in school and answering their questions. My nieces and nephews weren't sure at first how to take it. I had to watch though, because every time I took my foot off it would disappear. They were in the other room trying to get it to fit them so they could use it too.

Carol

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Thank you Mike for your kind words. I've said on this forum before, that I am a very wealthy man - (Not to be confused with material rich, but very wealthy in the things that count most to me - my family).

I know what you mean Carol, about the children "trying on" the leg. Mine never fit any of them either - but they tried. I think it is wonderful that you are open with the children in the school. I've never been ashamed of my leg either.

Acceptance comes in all forms.

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My daughters are 6&9. They have dealt with my disability well! I was borned without my legs from the knees down and have been blessed with a great family and friends. But, there are times when I wonder if I am doing the right thing. When my girls have friends over, I want to keep my limbs on because I don't want to make the girls have to try to answer all the questions that may come up. My girls know that it is not normal for me to keep them on until bed. They tell me not to act any different. I worry about it more than they do!

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Hi Jim,

Lovely story and pleased you have and enjoy such a lovely family.

It's strange -- or is it ?? how kids accept things without question. My first and only grandaughter is now 2.5 years old, and on one visit to my home she caught (is that the word) me donning my leg. She was not embarrased or frightened -- just interested. I explained what had happened and the reason for loosing my leg and she just accepted it.

The wonderful thing now is that she insists on helping me to put my leg on.

She waits for me when her little legs go too fast for me and offers her hand for help, "come on grandpa -- I'll help your poorly leg"

I find it touching that the offers of help are so willingly and unconditionally offered from someone so young and so small.

So -- I suppose that from my experience, and as you ay Jim -- just be upfront with the problem. It certainly hasn't "freaked out" my young grandaughter -- in fact, if anything it has made us closer, she now can do something to help me.

This is the wonder of KIDS

John

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My grandson was almost four when I hurt my foot. He saw me through the salvaging process. When we decided to amputate, his mother told him that my foot was too sick to get better and the doctors were going to amputate. She also told him not to worry because PaPa would get a prosthesis. At that age he could very clearly enunciate the words amputate and prosthesis. In fact he was better at the latter than most adults.

It doesn't bother him at all that PaPa has a prosthesis.

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Lovely story Jim you really are as you say indeed a rich man.

The day after my amputation, my kids who are all grown up, came to visit me in hospital and promptly placed a toy stuffed parrott on my shoulder. They said "we are trying to get you an eye patch and a spot in pantomime this year". Everyone in the ward was howling with laughing and guess what, that really helped me, it reminded me that I could still laugh at life despite it handing out a bum deal. Laughing about situations as they have occurred has been one of my greatest coping mechanisms

:lol:

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But, there are times when I wonder if I am doing the right thing. When my girls have friends over, I want to keep my limbs on because I don't want to make the girls have to try to answer all the questions that may come up. My girls know that it is not normal for me to keep them on until bed. They tell me not to act any different. I worry about it more than they do!

I know exactly how you feel, but I tend agree with your daughters.

I'm not sure about you? As I was born with bits missing in the leg department (too), I learnt to walk on prostheses & my mum insisted that I kept my legs on in public. So, until my children were born, I kept the legs on almost all the time I was awake! :o

Having my children & a supportive husband has helped me to realise that it doesn't matter whether you wear your legs or not. OK, so your daughters friends may stare a bit (I'm sure I'd stare at something I wasn't used to), but if you greet them with a smiley face and talk to them normally, they'll be fine. It's far more important that you're comfortable. :)

Lizzie :)

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Boy!! It sounds to me that I am not the only "wealthy" one on this forum. Not by a long shot, but I am thankful to be included with the rest of you who are.

It's called "PRIORITIES" in life. These are the true things that make us rich.

Ha!! how's that for a little early morning philosophy? I'd beter go write that down somewhere so I don't forget it. :D

Thank all of you for your comments, and for sharing your "priority" moments with the rest of us.

Some one once said - "Through the eyes of babes". So true.

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What always touches my heart, is when little children (like under the age of 5) find out that I only have one leg, they immediately start to slow down, and want to hold my hand to help me do stairs and stuff. It's so sweet.

Not like my big friends - who forget that I am foot challenged, and leave me WAY behind sometimes <_<

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Jim...

It sounds like you have a very sweet little granddaughter.

Are kids great about it? I would much rather deal with a child anytime about my prothesis than some adults... Kids are so honest about things. They are also smarter and more compassionate than we think sometimes.

My step-sons fiance has 4 children...the youngest being 4 the first time I met him...

He walked up just as normal as can be and asked what happen to my leg that it looks so different..( I had on a pair of shorts being that it was mid-late July in Illinois -hi neighbor). I told him that I had gotten hit by a car and that my foot had gotten hurt so bad that the doctors had to cut it off and give me a new one...

Of course, being a young boy, he wanted to know how it worked, could he look at it etc.. which I showed him.... The next time that we were together he walks up, tugs my shirt, very seriously, and wanted to know if, and I quote Jacob here" is your leg still artifical" unquote... Of course, I answered him that yes, it was still "artificial" and always would be..

This past summer, in the swimming pool with my water leg on, he wanted to know if it would drown. He is only 5 now, but, he sure is a hoot.......

One little boy, in a grocery store one day wanted to know if they made "robot legs'

God love'em all...

Actually, I do better with most children then I do adults.. I don't have a lot of patience for the really rude, starring adults, who will gawk but not ask..

Aren't kids amazing.......... :)

Higgy

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I read someone's post on here a while back that said that he didn't mind children staring, because it was an honest interest in something new. It was the adults that were just curious or nosy. I definitely agree. However, I was going through Harrahs car museum in Reno, Nevada once, wearing short pants. I had only been an amputee for a couple of years at that time. The ticket taker warned my wife and I that a group of school children had gone in ahead of us (8 to 10 years old I think). That didn't bother me at all, so we went in.

The short of all this is that I became the center of attention. Not the cars. Children would rudely stop right in front of us and point while looking at my leg. I understood the children. What I didn't understand were the teachers who looked, but didn't say a word. The children weren't being polite, but they were being children. This was the time for teachers to teach. Not a one did.

I don't wear shorts in public today not because I am ashamed or embarrased, but because I don't want my leg to be the subject of the attention. It has a way of taking away the moment.

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The short of all this is that I became the center of attention. Not the cars. Children would rudely stop right in front of us and point while looking at my leg. I understood the children. What I didn't understand were the teachers who looked, but didn't say a word. The children weren't being polite, but they were being children. This was the time for teachers to teach. Not a one did.

There's an easy way to solve that (i.e. teachers & their pupils staring), if it happens to you again, Jim.

You simply go up to one of the teachers and tell them (very quietly) that their pupils are staring at your leg and wouldn't it be a good idea for them to ask them not to stare, after all it is bad manners, isn't it? I'd be very surprised if it doesn't work.

Lizzie :)

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Hi Jim,

I agree with you about the teachers.... There are some good teachers and others who just want to draw a paycheck.

I guess maybe, as Lizzie referred to it, the teachers know it is rude to stare. Maybe she/he just didn't know how to handle the situation...

I do wear shorts in public, but I also pick my moments. I have a volumn fluctuation problem so for me it really is a matter of what's easier sometimes.

You know, I have worn shorts in a lot of different places over the last three years and to be honest, I think that the rudest adults that I ran in to were the women that belonged to some oil producers group, at the ACA conference in Dallas last year. They appeared to be well to do, upper class women.We had gotten there a couple of days ahead of time and the women were coming out across the foyer from one of the meetings.. These very well dressed women, who should of had some class, just continued to stare...One thing I have found, in a situation like that is, if you have the patience, when you catch someone starring at your leg, they WILL look up just to see if you notice them starring at you... to see if they are caught. Every time they do, they find me looking them in the eye... :D (Actually, it's fun to do, knowing that they will look). They always do...you will see all types of reactions... Me, I prefer kids anyday.....at least they are honest...

Higgy :

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These very well dressed women, who should of had some class, just continued to stare...

Where did you get the idea that money and fine clothes equals class and good manners? :)

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These very well dressed women, who should of had some class, just continued to stare...

Where did you get the idea that money and fine clothes equals class and good manners?

Also, class usually equals good manners but it doesn't guarantee them, especially when it comes to a disability!

Lizzie :)

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Where did you get the idea that money and fine clothes equals class and good manners?

I agree - I'm the perfect example. I dress like a peasant, but..... ;)

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What always touches my heart, is when little children (like under the age of 5) find out that I only have one leg, they immediately start to slow down, and want to hold my hand to help me do stairs and stuff. It's so sweet.

Oh goodness Ally, where did I go wrong. When my children were about that age, they just used to run !!

Ann

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Oh goodness Ally, where did I go wrong. When my children were about that age, they just used to run !!

Hehehehe, silly Ann, OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN.

Eish - we would be so lucky if our own children were so concerned. :P We are old news to them. As well it should be I guess....

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Two words have almost dissappeared from the English/American language -

MANNERS and CONSIDERATION.

Then every now and then a young group comes along and proves me wrong, and renews my faith in people - some people.

But, I totally agree with Todd. It's called PARENTING. That is where it begins and ends.

However, I wasn't complaining about the children. They were being normal, and if I may, away from home - naughty. But 3 or 4 teachers just looked on and did nothing.

Any way, we found a back door and left. IN A PERFECT WORLD, that would not have happened, but this is not "FATHER KNOW'S BEST", or whatever make believe TV world.

I have a sign in my shop and one on my desk in plain view that say's:

GOD GRANT ME THE SERINITY

TO ACCEPT THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE

COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN, AND

WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

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Grrrrr . . . this is a touchy topic for me! It's why I waited until 1996 (when my accident was in 1978) to ever wear shorts or skirts in public. And then it was just in Jamaica where no one knew me. Plus I figured I'd look more silly there in jeans on a beach. :P I now wear shorts and skirts anywhere.

My mood does an immediate 180 when I see adults gawking; whether it be at myself or someone else. My potty mouth wants to spue things at them. Thankfully, I've always been able to keep my mouth in check for fear of lowering myself to a level even lower than them. What I HAVE done is stop dead in my tracks and look down at my legs as if to see what the heck they're looking at. EVERY time I look back up at them, they are turning their head away from me. *HMPH!* The rage in me is always surprising because I never get that ticked off. But in those circumstances, I nearly lose it. I know, I know, I'm giving them too much power over my own happiness (I self-analyze all the time). I've learned to not look people in the face when I am in public for that reason. If I don't see them seeing me, then I can be happy. *sigh* I'm working on it.

LITTLE kids are great about it. When my children were born and as they grew up, I never even mentioned my leg and they never asked. It was "per normal" in their lives. Nothing to take notice of. My nieces and grand daughter have come up to touch it and then touch my good leg as if trying to figure out what's up. They know it's OK cause I'm usually giggling about it. They call it my "owie leg".

School aged children are another story entirely. UGH! Like what's already been described. UGH! (again) I can't go there. I blame their parents. MY children never EVER behaved like that. I've seen them in public and know I'm right. But they have me for a mother. But I was NEVER like that myself even before my accident.

OK, now I'm rambling. It's just a bad topic for me. Hmmm . . Maybe I should have just kept quiet? I'm a nut, I know.

On the flip side! I've had two men (on separate occasions) go on and on about how sexy my legs were. Then after pointing out the fact that one of them was a prosthesis, they had said that I still had sexy legs. THAT ROCKS! That alone should be my motivation to get back in the gym! :)

Amy

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