My Daughter, The Teacher

January 29, 2017 limb difference, Mandy, symbrachydactyly, visible special need 3 Comments

We were in the waiting room at our kids’ new pediatrician’s office when another little boy saw my daughter’s limb difference and ran away to his mom because Lydia’s limb difference scared him.

Five minutes later, a little girl ran up to Lydia and Barrett, and with a grotesque look on her face said, “What is wrong with you?”

Lydia smiled, “This is my lucky fin. I was born this way. I think it is awesome. Do you want to play? Let’s be friends.”

“No, your arm is gross! What happened to your brother?”

“It is NOT gross. That’s not kind to say. Barrett FanFan has two lucky fins! He was born this way too. We are like Nemo and we love our lucky fins. Come slide with us.” Instead of playing on the slide, the little girl ran to her mom as a safe retreat.

Though moments like these are hard to witness and make my heart sink, it also gives me so much pride that my four-year old daughter handled a hurtful situation with confidence, assertiveness, and kindness.

Lydia has often said the hardest part about having a limb difference is not the limb difference itself, but it is the way people treat her at times.

One of the lessons I often repeat to my daughter and son is that sometimes little people and big people are scared of differences, and that they might be the first to teach someone that even though we are different, we can still be friends. Though I hate that this “burden” is on them at three and four years old, I see that Lydia is beginning to use this opportunity to make this world better and she tries to be an includer. “Come play with me,” she says. I know she is choosing kindness when it would be easier not to.



As I have reflected on teaching my kids to be kind to those who are different, I have been convicted of how I carry this out in my own life. I have realized it is easy to be kind to people who think like me, look like me, and agree with me.

Because this situation at the pediatrician’s office happened during such a politically divisive time in our country, it has really challenged me to reflect:

How am I modeling kindness in my own life?

How do I treat people who think differently?

Where am I putting up healthy personal boundaries vs. walls in relationships? Personal boundaries are healthy, but walls in relationships aren’t.

Am I willing to hear a diversity of ideas that contradict my own? Or, do I mainly communicate with people who think like me, look like me, and are like me?

Am I willing to step out of my bubble? Or, am I making my bubble look more like me?

When someone posts something online and I am tempted to comment, am I operating from a place that remembers the preciousness of each person, especially when I disagree with them? Or, am I operating out of a place of superiority?

Am I treating someone the way that I would want to be treated or want my daughter and son to be treated?


I have been pushing myself to model kindness and disagreement in front of my kids, and this is not easy.

“Lydia, I disagree with you, but I adore you. We are okay even though we disagree.”

“Lydia and Barrett, I disagree with this news commentator’s ideas, but let’s practice listening.”

When I was early in my twenties, my husband did something that ticked me off. I remember venting to my mentor about this situation, and my mentor slowly nodded his head and said, “Hmmmmm. I understand why you are frustrated.” We sat there in awkward silence.

“Mandy,” he said authoritatively in his deep southern accent. “Yes, Dr. Chewning,” I replied nervously.

“Do you think you annoy people?”

Yes, of course.

“Do you think you tick people off?”

Yes, of course.

“Is it hard to love you sometimes?”

Absolutely.

“Do you make mistakes?”

Every stinking day.

“Is Jesus’ love for you dependent on how easy it is to love you?”

No.

“Every time Bryson annoys you and ticks you off, before you ever respond to him, I want you to pray, ‘Jesus, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be more like you.’ When you pray this, do not think that in a condescending way, but in a manner that refines you and makes you more reflective of Him. See each annoyance and frustration as a gift.”

Convicting.

As I have scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, I have been overwhelmed by the divisiveness and the lack of kindness that all of us, myself included, are modeling to the little people who observe and learn from us.

May we push ourselves to practice kindness as we communicate our diverse and often conflicting ideas. May we remember each person’s preciousness as we challenge, disagree, and communicate ideas that are important us. We are okay even though we disagree. I think we can engage in hard conversations and still be friends.

I am so thankful for my daughter, the teacher.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23




3 responses to “My Daughter, The Teacher”

  1. Holly says:

    Love how Lydia is teaching others and showing how she is perfect and wonderfully made. The other kids reactions does make me sad. I am hopeful that these parents teach them privately how to handle things better next time.
    Politically I am teaching my daughter how blessed we are to be in America. I have friends who are passionate about both political sides. You raise so many great points above!
    Modeling is key for our children and in our hearts too. Love your professors advice!

    • Mandy Moore says:

      Yes, I completely understand kids are little and we must disciple them. The poor moms of both kiddos seemed panicked, which I think most mamas can relate to. I have no hard feelings there.

      Thanks so much for your kind words.

  2. Kate North says:

    I am the grandmother of a now 7 year old precious little boy who was born without a left hand. I love what you wrote about your 2 children as I have experienced very similar experiences with my grandson. Most of all I so appreciate how you related all of this to our current political situation. I agree with all that you said and am appreciative and grateful that you took the time to write it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2017 No Hands But Ours

The content found on the No Hands But Ours website is not approved, endorsed, curated or edited by medical professionals. Consult a doctor with expertise in the special needs of interest to you.