Coming home from karate the other day, my typically developing triplet pointed out to me that his brother sometimes needs help walking. “Yes”, I told him. “He does.” He went on to tell me that he doesn’t need help walking, and that he wondered why his brother does. This has never come up before, but now that they are four, they see and question more than they ever have. So I told him. “Your brother has Cerebral Palsy. That means his body doesn’t do what he wants it to do the same way yours does.” I could see him thinking about this, and as he stumbled over the pronunciation of what I just said. “So he needs help walking, right Mom?” I smiled to myself. Simple explanations are so much easier for young children.
Then he went on to tell me his sister doesn’t need help walking, and she doesn’t have ‘spec-cere-ball’ (pause) pal-zee’. “Actually baby, she does too.” His eyes got huge as he tried to comprehend that one walks, one doesn’t, but they both have something. He frowned, trying to reconcile this in his mind. “But she walks Mommy.” “Yes, she does”, I told him. “She needs help with different things than your brother does.” I told him everyone has something they need help with. Some things you can see, some things you cannot. But all people, everyone, has something they need help with. He was quiet for a few minutes, looking out his window, then turned back toward me. “What do I have Mommy?” And I said, “You have compassion, and a brother and sister who have a lot to teach us.”