Today we went to a huge Christian music event here in the Altanta area called Celebrate Freedom. I'm not quite sure how they manage this but it is FREE! So it is an awesome opportunity to see some great music and enjoy some fun. Although I must say we still managed to spend money because there are fun things to do and there is food to eat (can't bring anything in with you).
As we were standing in line for the "hampster ball" with Lucas, a little asian girl came up from behind me and went right up to Lucas's feet and started touching them and asking questions about his feet. He was caught off guard and freaked out a bit. He pulled back and said, "stop touching me". It didn't take long for me to notice there was something sweet and unique about this little girl. I turned around and saw her "non asian" momma. And we got into a conversation. The little girl was also adopted from China and was 9 years old. She was brought home when she was about 2. But, her mom was sure to mention right away that she had autism. I kind of figured it was something like that, but either way, it didn't seem to really matter to Lucas, because her repeated attempts to keep touching him were causing him to pull back and kind of get assertive with her and tell her to back off. I could see he didn't understand autism. We have never run into that before.
This brings up an interesting thing about him. He will do the exact things to "others" that he is not a real fan of having done to him. He will stare at people with birth marks and ask questions. Or if someone is in a wheel chair he wants to know what is wrong. Or if they have other things he doesn't understand he asks a lot of questions. This is what makes me think he doesn't think his legs/feet are really that big of a deal or worthy of people's questions or stares.
Withink moments the little girl started with the repeated questioning. "Why are your feet plastic?" "What happened to your feet?" He did NOT want to answer her. And I asked if I could answer her. He said, "no". So I respected that and did not. But, I did keep suggesting that if he just told her she would probably stop and leave him alone.
Eventually, I just pulled him aside and tried to explain why she was doing what she was doing, and he got it. When we went back to the line, he let me tell her he had surgery because he had little feet and missing bones. She was somewhat satisfied with it but she continued more questioning. The mom was great with her and tried to encourage her to leave him alone, but she would still reach out once in a while and just toucn them. He got a little frustrated, but more patient over time.
It was and interesting interaction because it was one of the first times I've seen Lucas pull back from someone. And he was also unwilling to tell his story (at first). There's a revelation and perhaps vulnerablity that he doesn't really want people to know. I honestly think he doesn't see it as all that different sometimes. He is so happy he has 5 toes, that he can't imagine why any of this makes him unique. Moments like this however, point it out as being so different. I know this isn't the last time things like this are going to happen. But, it was a bit of a reality check because we really don't deal with it in such a confrontative way.
Personally, I'd rather have her do what she did. I'm sure 100 other kids have wondered the same thing, but have been hushed by their parents to not say anything. In fact there was one person sort of behind us that I didn't look at---who was carrying a small boy around 4 maybe?? that was asking questions and the mom was saying "shhhhhh" "that's just the way he is"....etc. It's so hard to know what you "should" do and teach your kids because each family and person deals with it differently.
I remember, before we brought Lucas home and I saw a boy on a beach with one leg like Lucas's were going to be. I was so excited that I ran over to them at their beach towel and started talking with the mom. The boy was 11 though. And she said he had become more self conscious about it and he probably would not talk to us about it. But, she did. He was off running across the beach and swimming. It amazed me. She answered a lot of questions for us.
So, do I have all the answers as to what you "should" do or "shouldn't do" when you see a "Lucas" on the street or on the beach? probably not. But, if you see US? Just ask! I will ask Lucas if I can tell his story and we will go from there. How's that for a deal? I LOVE to tell his story, but now...I ask first. (well most of the time). I would however recommend you don't just come up to him and start touching his legs...cuz you may hear "Stop touching my legs" from the boy! =)