It finally happened. A total stranger approached us and asked; “So, what happened to her arm?”
And do you know what? It wasn’t awkward at all.
Maybe it was because this lady and her friend had spent all of lunch cooing and smiling at Kitty who, true to form, spent all of lunch baby-flirting with them. Maybe it was because her opening line was ‘isn’t she gorgeous?’
She then went on to tell us that her husband had lost his arm in a motorbike accident in his teens and that nothing much fazed him. I suppose that kinship gave her the confidence to approach us where others might not have dared, and we really appreciated her matter-of-fact approach and reassurances.
In a lot of ways, that two minute conversation made me feel as though a weight had been lifted. I’ve spent many a night rehearsing my response to any questions (one that doesn’t include any four letter words), as I’d just assumed they’d be negative. But so far, I haven’t had cause to use my little speech.
People do stare sometimes, like the entire family at a service station coffee shop who turned around, en masse, to have a look after granny clocked Kitty’s arm. And I’ll admit, I might have struggled not to leap across the table and slap them all round the face with a cheese and ham baguette. But then, I’d never seen a baby missing part of an arm before Kitty came along, so I’m not surprised that people look.
There’s still a way to go before I stop checking to see who’s looking and that speech is still filed away just in case. I suppose that instinct to protect your child from harm – physical or emotional – can never be subdued. But I’m definitely going to give people the benefit of the doubt from now on, swapping the glare for a smile so people feel confident enough to ask.
So, if you see us in the street, come and say hello. Kitty’s got her biggest smile ready and waiting.