Robby has been doing a great job with his ice skating lessons. Yesterday he had his third class and, to his delight and my surprise, he fell only twice. He hasn't forgotten the first lesson when we arrived woefully unprepared; before every class he reminds me to bring his warm clothes so, "We are prepared this time because it is more fun when I am not shivering cold on the ice." He certainly has a propensity towards the dramatic!
Scott and I stood by the rink throughout the lesson, proudly watching every move our little skating novice made. Every once in awhile Robby would look up and wave from across the rink, occasionally offering a thumbs up when he completed a circuit without falling. Thirty minutes flew by and before we knew it, his class was coming to an end. Our previously quiet viewing area became congested with kids waiting for their classes to begin and parents waiting to retrieve their children.
Because I take no steps to conceal my prosthetic, I am accustomed to hearing whispers and capturing attention of bystanders. Most of the time the comments and not-so-subtle pointing don't phase me. I am never bothered by a child's comments or questions; I would rather they inquire and satisfy their curiosity instead becoming scared of something simply because it is different. Usually parents try to hush their children when they ask questions within earshot. Occasionally I hear the parent encourage the child to speak directly to me. My heart breaks when I hear a child being reprimanded and scolded simply because I piqued their curiosity.
Yesterday, when I was standing waiting for Robby to come off of the ice, I heard a little girl ask her Dad about my leg. I gave my best "it's okay, I don't mind her noticing" look to the father in an attempt to relieve the pressure. My look of acceptance quickly morphed into that of disgust and disapproval.
Instead of using the situation as an opportunity to teach his daughter, the man looked at her and snapped, "You see, she didn't listen to her skate instructor and the blade cut her leg right off. If you don't start paying attention to your teachers,the same thing will happen to you. You don't want that to happen to you, do you?" The inquisitive little girl's happy disposition evaporated as she hid behind her dad, staring at the ground until I left the area.
I was appalled that a father would explain my amputation to his daughter in such a fictitious and scary manner. Instead of embracing an opportunity to foster acceptance, this parent chose to use me as an unwitting accomplice to scare and shame his child. I was taken off guard by his brazen explanation and was left without a response. (Yes, me without words has happened, although it is rare!)
During the coming week I am going to figure out a way to approach this family in an attempt to undo the fear that has been instilled because of my amputation. I don't want to overstep my boundaries, but at the same time I am going to obsess on this incident until I rewrite the ending. I will not let this little girl graduate from the Snowplow Sam Beginning Skate class fearing an amputee!