Today we’ve had a potentially ‘difficult’ question from our Biggest Boy.
‘Mum, Cerrie’s got one hand. Where’s her other hand?’
I watched with interest when Cerrie Burnell first appeared on CBeebies and some parents immediately blasted the BBC for seemingly employing a ‘disabled’ woman because of an equal opportunities policy – that she was possibly the best candidate for the job never seemed to enter the debate – and demanded that she be removed as her appearance was scaring toddlers. Having just had Biggest Boy at the time I didn’t have to explain why Cerrie only had one hand and thought perhaps that it was this that was scaring parents, rather than Cerrie scaring their children – how do you answer difficult questions about people who look a bit different?
We’ve already had things like ‘Look, that man’s got a big tummy’ at full volume which, although I’m sure quite hurtful to the man (I’ve had it before and it does sting a bit!), seems funny but ‘Look, that lady’s only got one hand’ or ‘Look, that man’s in a wheelchair’ seem a bit more difficult to deal with.
I’m hoping that I dealt with it correctly in just saying yes, she’s got one hand, she only had one hand from when she was a baby and leaving it at that. If he’s got further questions then I hope I can answer them truthfully. The interesting thing was that there was no fear in the question, only curiosity, so I wonder how many of those complaining parents were actually doing their children a bit of a disservice by not answering their genuine questions?
I have always been quite concerned about what to say when faced with these difficult questions but since I want my children to be curious about the world I can’t shy away from them and I hope I will always be able to provide an answer they can understand. At least it’s only Biggest Boy at the moment – I’ve still got a little while before Littlest Lad learns how to start asking!!