So far, Anna has been able to do most everything other kids her age can do. But as she's getting older, I've noticed that children are starting to surpass her in certain ways. The other day, at a friend's house, the kids were all playing tag. The ground was sloped, which made it especially hard for Anna to run on because her foot doesn't bend which makes her unsteady climbing up a slope. I saw her chasing and chasing but she just couldn't keep up with her faster counterparts. I saw her get tired more quickly. Even though she had a smile on her face, my heart broke. I wanted to help her, to make her go faster like the other kids. I wanted to encourage her. I just wanted to 'fix' it. I decided not to say anything after, except that it looked like she had fun playing tag.
She said, "I was the only one who didn't get to run away from anyone! I had to catch everyone."
I paused and thought about what I should say, or not say. I told her that sometimes things like running fast are a little bit harder for her than the other kids because of her leg, but that she did a great job. I wasn't sure if I should have just listened to her and not brought up her leg... I struggle with knowing whether I'm focusing on it too much or whether it's a good thing to acknowledge her difference and help her frame it in a positive way. These are the questions I ask myself and will continue to ask myself as she grows and has more questions and situations arise.
She is starting to notice some of her limitations and that certain things are going to be a little bit different for her. When I think back to my own childhood, so many vivid memories arise of times when I struggled, and my sensitive nature made these times especially difficult. Ben says it's important not to project your past experiences on to your children, and he's right. But it's hard. I wish she could run like everyone else. Most of the time I feel proud and thankful for Anna's differences, but there are those moments when I wish she didn't have to struggle. This is a seemingly small incident, but it reflects the future in that I know there will be many more bigger hurdles to come. And she can overcome them. I just have to learn the best way to support and encourage her. It will take courage, support, and guidance. I pray that God will equip me with the wisdom and strength to guide my daughter- to know when to be there for her; when to talk and when to listen.