I laugh at my son. Often. I like to think that most people laugh at their kids (you do, right?) so that makes me pretty normal.
Kids are hilarious. They say weird stuff, are embarrassingly easy to trick (*cough* Santa), and generally act the fool. In the animal kingdom, baby humans take the cake for comedy.
So we laugh at them– because they’re cute and because we can. At least I do.
But when your child has a disability, sometimes people aren’t sure if they’re allowed to laugh along with you. And that can get awkward.
Recently, I was swapping funny kid stories with a couple of friends. I told them about this weird thing that happens when Simeon crawls– and it didn’t go so well.
Sim isn’t doing a four-point crawl but he has mastered the art of commando crawling (which is clearly the manlier of the two crawl options and obviously superior). During these military-style crawling expeditions he scouts for things that don’t belong to him (Daddy’s PlayStation games), forages for treats (discarded band-aids), and pivots in circles like a break dancer.
And that’s where it gets a little funny. Because Sim can’t move his legs, he runs into a problem I like to call the “Friction Affliction.”
Looks crazy, right? It isn’t hurting him and it’s not dangerous (especially since we straighten him out quick) but Sim comes off looking like some kind of baby-contortionist. I have stage mom fantasies of putting him in the circus where– with his good looks and my sparkling personality, we would make millions.
So that’s what I told my friends. The problem is, I don’t think they heard anything past “can’t move his legs.” What was intended as a funny story, fell on their ears like the groans of a Shakespearean tragedy– no laughing matter. Observe this reenactment:
Here are my friends:
It was awkward, you guys– for everyone involved.
Maybe the problem is that, unlike my friends, I’ve gotten comfortable with the fact that Simeon doesn’t move his legs. Maybe the problem is that we all need to lighten up when it comes to how we treat people who are different. Or maybe my story just wasn’t funny (gasp!) and I need to work on my comedic timing– but I kind of doubt that since I’m a riot and you know it. Whatever the reason, it felt really crappy (pardon my French). Everyone was allowed to laugh at their kid except for me– because my kid is different.
You think your kids are funny– you chuckle when they sleep with their faces mashed up against the crib bars, you giggle when they say “truck” but it comes out as the very-baddest-word-in-the-world, and you even laugh when they crawl like a weirdo. Instead of being strange, laughing at my son actually makes me just like the mom of a typical child.
So I’m here to say that yes, I think my son is hilarious– even though he has a disability. And if I laugh at him, that means you can, too. I mean it, you guys. It’s okay.