I've been noticing that other kids are noticing Elijah's differences now. When he was smaller, they didn't pay as much attention to the drool or how he doesn't always respond when they try to engage him. But, now, they notice. I see kids looking at him, wondering.
They're starting to ask questions.
Not too long ago the neighbor kids started to ask me questions about Elijah.
Neighbor girl, "He drools a lot."
Me, "Yes, he does."
Neighbor girl, "Why?"
Before I could answer, she asked another question. I was relieved; it was an easier question to answer.
Girl: "What's that on his bike?"
Me, "That's something to help Elijah keep his feet on the pedals. He doesn't really need it anymore because he keeps his feet on all by himself. He's just learning how to push the pedals by himself, isn't that great?!"
A little later, Elijah tried to get in one of the neighbor's swimming pools, again.
Girl, "Why don't you just let him get in?"
Me: "It's almost lunch and I don't want him to get wet right now."
Girl: "You could just change his clothes you know."
Me: "I know, but right now just isn't the right time to go swimming. And Elijah can't always get his way just because he wants something."
Why, oh why, am I arguing with a six year old?
Soon, Elijah spits up some of his morning snack.
Me: "Whoops!" as I wipe off his face with his shirt since I have nothing else.
Girl: "What's that?"
Me: "He just spit-up a little."
Girl: "What is spit-up?"
Me: "Oh, it's uh, throw-up." (How do you put that nicely, so that they understand?)
Girls: All react disgusted in different ways.
Me: "It's okay, Elijah's tummy just doesn't keep his food down as other kids. Here, we'll just take some water from the pool to wash it away."
The girls seem satisfied. Thinking that they might associate throwing-up with being sick, I tell them Elijah's not sick or anything. It's just that sometimes his food just comes back up. No big deal.
Girl: "Oh, you should take him to the hospital."
Sigh. I am just not used to talking to kids.
I'm glad the kids are asking questions. Really, I am. We live in a fantastic neighborhood, with respectful children. Elijah likes to be with them, so they're going to have questions. I'd like them to get to know him, be protecting of him as he gets older. It's just that kids ask "why?" a lot...and sometimes that's a hard question for me to even have the answer. I don't know why Elijah behaves the way he does at times. I'm going to have to get used to answering these questions. I so want to have the right answers, to be able to explain things in a way that they can understand.
I ache for them to accept Elijah as one of their peers. For the most part, they do. I just need to wrap my mind around children and their questions. And I need to be ready with an answer, as hard as the answers may be sometimes. The way I respond has a big impact. My answers are what will enable them to accept Elijah and will educate them about kids with disabilities. It's important that I remain positive in my responses. Having the right answers does stress me out a little. I am just not used to talking to children!