Understanding Disabilities: Toddler Talk

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could all squint our eyes, look through a cardboard craft, and see the world as it is through the eyes of a child? No matter what the weather is like, no matter how difficult the world may seem, no matter what changes we may face, there is always a rainbow to celebrate, a silver lining to find, and the sunshine ready to brighten our day!

I think of this concept often when I am speaking to Clarabelle and I try to share these moments with you all so that you may also remember that life is too short to view troubles as no more than a temporary change in the weather.

A few days ago, I was preparing my granddaughter to go visit my friend Heather who I have introduced a few times in the blog. Now, Clarabelle knows and loves Heather dearly and she is genuinely accepting of whatever the situation is. However, I always try to prepare her for anything that may raise questions. This is for two reasons. One, I want to protect her from being scared and two I want to protect Heather from feeling like she scared Clarabelle.

When Heather was in the ICU, I explained to Clarabelle that Heather would not be able to get out of the bed to play with her and she was understanding when we entered. When I told her that Heather could not come to visit with us, she understood. However, this time I am preparing Clarabelle to visit our friend post-amputation. I did not want her to be scared of doctors or afraid that Heather was hurting, so I sat her down and told her that I needed to talk to her before we go. I expected this to be a long discussion and brought a cup of coffee to prepare.

“Clarabelle, do you remember that Heather had sick germs?”

“Yes,” she replied. “The doctors are fixing her.”

“Right,” I continued cautiously. “The doctors found out that the sick germs were in her leg and the only way to get them out was to take part of her leg away.”

Clarabelle sat for a moment and asked, “did it hurt her?”

“No, they gave her medicine and now they are working on a kinda robot leg for her. Remember, some people use wheelchairs to move. Some people need special chairs. Heather is getting a special leg. It will just be different.”

Clarabelle got up from her chair and started walking off to play. She stood still for a minute to process and turned to me to say “Oh well! She is still my Heather!”

Clarabelle ran off with her brother and cousins in the yard. Everything was just fine in her world. She did not lose “her Heather” and she did not have to worry about a thing.

Clarabelle, as we all do, will face many things in her life. She will encounter people and situations that are different and perhaps scary. But, it is my hope that she is always able to see her rainbow, find her silver lining, and feel the sunshine on her face. Look, and you can too!

Don’t avoid the sunshine for the fear of the rain,


Author: smudgesonmymirror

A dynamic mother/daughter duo that has overcome obstacles and chosen to embrace our experiences rather than to change our view of ourselves. Lovingly labeled by Gigi or Mommy, the tone and messages in each post will reflect generational viewpoints and family continuances.

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