Years ago, before I became a Mom, I went to visit a very dear friend, whose 4 year old son I haven't seen since he was an infant. It was wonderful to see her again. I brought her little boy a truck because, to be honest, I'm not above resorting to bribery to gain a child's affection.
Her little boy eagerly led me to the playroom so that we could play with all of his toys. I asked my friend if her son knew about my amputation. She responded proudly, by asking him, "Do you remember we talked about Miss Peggy? How many legs does she have?" He looked up, grinned a crooked smile, and said one. He then proceeded to push the truck around the room.
Secure in the knowledge that I he knew about the amputation, I proceeded to sit on the floor and take my leg off.
The little boy looked up, saw that my leg wasn't attached and he ran to his Mommy, visibly upset and shaking. She tried to calm him, reminding him that I only had one leg and that I used a prosthetic. He responded by saying that he knew that I only had one leg, but that she didn't tell him that I was a robot!
His reaction both melted and broke my heart. I was sad that I had upset him by removing my leg. I always check before I pop off my leg because I don't want to take anybody off guard. The innocence of his reaction was endearing. He was prepared for me to have one leg, but was not prepared for me to have a leg that could be removed. Now, before I remove my prosthetic, I always show the child my leg while I am wearing it. I talk about how it helps me walk, and how this special leg can be taken off whenever I want. I have yet to meet a child who didn't find this fascinating, as long as they are prepared correctly.
The little boy finally forgave his Mommy for not telling him that I was a robot. Unfortunately, I didn't get off that easy! It took 2 more trucks and a trip to the ice cream store, but I am happy to report that we are now buddies. Did I mention that I'm not above bribery?