1. What's wrong with him? This is the most common negative reaction we have to Trooper's disability. I want to say, "Nothing, what's wrong with you?", but so far I've maintained self-control. Just think for a moment how you would feel if three times a week someone asked what was wrong with you! I just answer, "Nothing, he's fine." I pretend like I don't even know what they're talking about. Then, if they ask a specific question like, "Well, what's that in his neck?" I'll give a real answer. But really, unless you know someone on a deeper than surface level, there's no reason to ask about their disability. Try something like, "Aren't you a cutie!" or "I love your hair!" instead. Most people do, and I love them for it.
2. How is his brain? Does he have cognitive problems? Really? Why would you ask that in front of a child? Again, unless you're a teacher or medical professional, there's probably no reason for you to need that information, anyway, but if you must ask, at least don't do it in front of the kid. How would you feel if people questioned your IQ in front of you? You would wonder what it was about you that made people think you must be impaired. As my friend, Jenn, said, just because you broke your foot doesn't mean your brain doesn't work.
3. He's so lucky to have good parents like you. This is a well-meaning mistake made by lots of very nice people. Don't feel bad about saying it, just don't say it again J. This statement implies that the child is inherently less worthy of having great parents than other children are. Rather than deserving them, he's lucky to have them. Only exceptional parents could love him. See what I mean? You could always say something like, "You're such a perfect family", "God knew what he was doing when he put you together", or "You're so lucky to have such a great son".
4. Oh, you poor thing. The way I see it, this is the number one negative comment, the worst thing you could ever say to anyone. The day after I was talking to some friends about writing this, a woman said this to my son. I gently corrected her, fake smiling and saying, "No, he's fine," but when I tried to move on, she repeated it. When I saw the look on Trooper's face I knew I couldn't let it go. I turned to the woman and I said, "You know, that's really insulting. He's not a poor thing. It's insulting to say that! No one needs to be pitied." She tried to justify herself by insisting that he was indeed a poor thing, and I turned him around and walked away.
My child is a tough guy. In his almost four years he's already endured more than most Americans ever will, and he's still spunky, silly, smart, handsome, and stubborn at times. He loves heavy machinery, stealing peoples' seats, belching contests, books, and any sort of mischief. He's the most outgoing and accepting person I've ever met, and for a three-year-old, I think he's remarkably aware of what's going on around him. He is NOT a poor thing.
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