Each afternoon when I walk into Robby's classroom I am inundated by excited and curious seven-year-olds. They pepper me with questions about my prosthesis and amputation. I love the enthusiasm that they all seem to hold and the fact that they are unfiltered with their questions. Rather than continue to live with the daily inquisition, today I am going to teach his class. I'm not sure who is more excited right now: Robby because his Mom is coming to school with him or me because I get to revisit my educator roots.
The first time I spoke to Robby's class about my limb loss he was in Kindergarten. I was uncertain about how much information to reveal to his classmates and admittedly over planned my lecture. I printed adorable coloring books, brought books to share and spare legs for the students to explore. Despite my hours of preparation the talk quickly went horribly off track, completely derailing in a theological discussion for which I was woefully unprepared.
I will never forget sitting in front of Robby's class, precariously perched on the oh-so-small chair, talking about my various legs. A little girl asked where I get my legs, and Robby eagerly chimed in to explain that we get new legs from Mr. Elliot. Before I could continue, a little boy shouted, "God is the only one who makes legs." Before I knew it, the entire class was comparing Mr. Elliot's skills with God's original legs, debating which was a more impressive feat. By the time the teacher helped redirect the conversation, the class was split, with half of them convinced that Mr. Elliot's ability to make legs of different colors and designs making him the clear winner. Talk about a teaching fail!
Last year my presentation went better. The students were older and I consciously avoided pointing out the variety of prosthetics available. I kept my talk brief, answering questions but not providing too much information. Unfortunately this approach backfired because the class continued to ask questions on a daily basis. After a few months Robby (and I) both grew weary of their queries. Robby eventually began replying with, "She has a prosthetic, there is nothing else to see here so stop talking about it" when his peers began their inquisition.
Despite numerous talks and my leaving a spare prosthesis in the classroom for the students to examine and manipulate, his class never lost their insatiable curiosity. Their enthusiasm was ironic considering that I was chastised by a parent for daring to expose my prosthesis in public. If I had thought of it at the time I would have shown the angry parent the photo I took of his precious little angel hobbling around the classroom wearing my prosthetic leg. Maybe I should print it and send it to him in a Christmas card?
This year I am hoping to strike the balance between overwhelming the students with so much information that they become distracted and answering their questions completely enough so that they are satisfied. If his classmates view me as Robby's mom instead of the one-legged Mom, I will consider this presentation a success. I don't know what to expect, but I do know that it will be an interesting afternoon!