When Children Ask Me Why I Do Not Have Two Hands

There is typically not a day that I am in out-and-about in the daily flow of life when I do not get attention, looks, and questions from children. I have mentioned this in a past blogs and podcasts how open and honest children are about asking questions. In fact, I think it is one of the best parts of having one hand. The timing, direction, and the result of these interactions can happen anywhere at anytime with the most unique, cool, and precious moments. Blog 16 of my “40 Blogs in 40 Days about my first 40 Podcasts” shares the story of what lead to my One Hand Speaks Storytelling Podcast Episode OHS007.

When I was a child I was not very comfortable when people would stare and point at me. Whether they were kids or adults did not matter. I was just not a fan of being the object of people’s curious attention. Now that I am an adult I am very comfortable with being observed. Over the course of my life I made the transition. I can pinpoint specific moments and interactions that was the foundation of that change. What I feel is important is I overcame the issue of being observed.

This is actually a very good quality for many reasons. One reason is I live my life as an artist. Part of that life has been as a performance artist. This means I have sent a lot of time on stage. I was a founding member of a local burlesque troop in Boise, Idaho called the Red Light Right Variety Show. I have also done many musical presentations with the Didgeridoo, a Theremin, and even the more rare, weird and cool electronic instrument called a Crackle Box. Additionally, being a professional martial art and Aikido teacher for ten years brought me a lot of curious observation.  As an adult I have been looked at in many ways for many different reason. Changing my perception on being “looked at” has transformed it into a benefit.

With children it is very special. So much of this is about what I call “First Contact.” Meaning for their first time I am the first person they have encountered with one hand. How they react has much to do with how they react. Another deep factor is the culture they are raised. How their parents bring them up also plays a key role. Regardless, I have found myself in as many different types and outcomes of interactions as there are different types of children. Each interaction is special onto itself. Children aged three to six tend to just ask openly and honestly about my hand. This can make many people, especially their parents somewhat uncomfortable at first. How I deal with it makes all the difference. Seven to eleven year-old kids have a much different approach. They are able to rationalize more and sometimes contemplate options before an action is taken. Though this is not always the case.

I am so very open to kids asking me about my hand at any time in any situation. I feel it is important to let them know and experience I am very happy and OK with who I am. It is also very important they know there is not a problem with asking me what happened. Even if the parents try to prevent their kids from looking or asking, I make it a point to tell the parents it is actually OK. In most cases once any perceived societal norms about asking are dissolved and the parents see the results, everyone is a winner. It is my understanding of this need to want to know what happened and if I am “OK” that is part of my professional youth empowerment speaking. I speak at a lot of grade schools and middle school about my one-handed life. Then sometimes it just happens in the grocery checkout line, at the coffee shop, or in anyone of those moments just out-and-about living my life.

This blog is the lead-in into my podcast OHS007 about one of these types of interactions. It happened when I was on a two-day work assignment. I work for the Bureau of Reclamation as a graphic design and visual media specialist. I was giving a presentation to our fellow co-corkers at Grand Coulee Dam. As part of the shift I stopped by to visit the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center. Our Illustration Department here in Boise, Idaho has done many projects for the visitor center. The visitor center is a very well known land mark within Reclamation for it’s arts exhibits and it architecture. To finally see it and spend time there was both a personal and professional goal. While I was there looking at the art (some of which we created) and reading about the local history a large amount of grade school kids had arrived. This was a common attraction and tour for schools kids in the Pacific Northwest Area. As I was looking at a collection of antiques I noticed a young girl looking at me. She leaned over to whisper to her friend as they both began to look at me. As I looked up at the first girl looking at me I offered her a very sincere smile. What she said next opened the door to a most precious and beautiful interaction. 

To hear what happened next and to get the full story I invite you to click and listen to my One Hand Speaks Storytelling Podcast Episode OHS007. Please feel free to share this blog or my podcast and I ask you to offer a comment with your opinion and feedback! Thanks! 

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