Dad, are you a cripple?
Your kids will ask searingly direct questions and you’re liable to be placed on an uncomfortable seat, as I was tonight.
For the record, I’ve got a bad leg subsequent to a long-ago battle with cancer. The good new is you’ll survive but the bad news…
This question was in response to my having to take a cane along for a scouting event. I’ve used it on very rare occasions, but today was a bad one for that particular limb so I took it just in case. As we talked on the way home, I was initially struck since I’ve never thought of myself in that light. I stumbled on a response and decided to walk with him through the question and what it meant. No, I can rarely wrestle with the kids anymore because of frequent cramping. No, I can’t run anymore either. He knows that when he wants to sit on my lap that he has to approach from a particular side. And depending on how it feels on a particular day, I might have a pronounced limp. While my initial impulse was to deny it, I had to finally acknowledge that in some ways, I was crippled. It was a painful moment.
Young children can’t discern the vagaries of political correctness. They deal directly in the here and now. Since the examples that he can comprehend clearly show a physical inability because of a specific problem, then what’s the real value in muddying the waters while protecting my pride? What it also means however, is that I’ll have further conversations with him about all of the things that I can do in spite of the leg. And while I have the issues, it doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of doing anything. In other words, I’ll make an effort to merge direct language with the good intent of political correctness.