Talking About Having No Arms and Legs With a 4 Year Old

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It all started innocently enough. I was making some wretched low-fat no-taste concoction at the stove, my back to the kids. I was startled by the degree to which my cooking skills have nose dived since becoming pregnant, scared about what I was mixing would result in. Micah was calling me. Happy for diversion, I turned.

“Mommy! Why do we have necks?”

AH! A spark went off my in my soul. I love this kind of stuff. I happily turned off the stove, leaving the mess that would be dinner right where it was and went over to sit with Micah. Paused for a minute to spin my mental yarn, then went with it, full force.

– necks hold up our heads, give us space to swallow, allow us to reach – sort of like giraffes?!

When I finished, Micah’s chin was propped up by his hands, his big, chocolate-brown eyes seriously gazing at me. He nodded. Then he asked, “why do we have arms and legs?”

Huh. Why do we have arms and legs?

Of course, we have them for walking, reaching, grabbing, gripping – all the useful pieces of our life. I told him this, but I thought it was a good time to also talk about when you don’t have arms or legs.

Because you can still “walk”, reach, grab and grip without arms and legs, you know. It’s not all completely dependent on arms and legs and I want him growing up knowing that.

So I told him about my friend, Pauline. She doesn’t have arms or legs. She is one of the most capable people I know – living proof that you don’t need these appendages to make your life happen – that these limbs are simply very useful, but not totally necessary.

Micah was enthralled.

And then he wanted to know how she drove her wheelchair.

Remembering that Pauline has a series of videos, we went to YouTube and watched this:

Loving it, he wanted more. So we watched this:

And. Oh, how I love Pauline’s message. The consequence is starvation. Might be emotional,  might be spiritual, might be physical. And it’s so true.


Micah had his own question for her so we duly emailed her. I feel – and felt – so blessed that I’m in a position to introduce my children to friends of mine that are true mavericks. People that are forging a new way in life with a bold fearlessness that both humbles me and makes me proud.


An extra video, just for you – a snapshot of Pauline’s life

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Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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