Childhood misconceptions

I was born in 1964, and my parents were not given a name or reason why my fingers were different. Here are some poignant stories related to my difference growing up:

As a child, I thought I wouldn’t be allowed to marry because I could not wear a wedding ring on my left ring finger.

I remember being uncomfortable at Thanksgiving, when the class would trace their hand to create a picture of a turkey. I never would.

In elementary school, I was given the choice of learning to play the flute or the trombone, as those were instruments my fingers would accommodate. I chose the flute, although my left pinkie had to roll to play two keys. It worked! I never could play the guitar or flip people off, though.

My own sister once forgot about my birth defect, asking why I preferred mittens to gloves. When I tried to explain she said, “Oh my gosh, I forgot!”

When my daughter was about 3, she said “Mommy, when I grow up I’m going to have long hair like you and I’m going to have small fingers like you.” Precious.

I have been a high school math teacher my whole life. Once I had a male student whose arms ended at the wrists. He played on the school tennis team, and although he needed both arms to hold a pencil, his writing was neater than most of the other boys in class.

It’s much easier for those of us born with differences, than for those who lose limbs later. We learn to accommodate and for us its normal! Although for children and teens it can be very unpleasant to stand out from peers.

2 thoughts on “Childhood misconceptions

  1. I was born missing all five fingers on my left hand. I grew up in a loving home with parents that felt the world would not give me special treatment because I was different and encouraged me to do all that I can. All my life I have heard the statements that adjusting to life without fingers is easier if you are born that way than if it happened in an accident. I am now 47 years old and honestly, that perception is totally wrong! All my life I have worked to adjust things around me to be able to live in a two handed world. I cannot list all the things I can do but I am typing this myself. I am able to do all the things that I want to do, but it was not natural. I had to learn and work at it. I did wear a prosthesis until the 4th grade when I found that it hindered me more than it helped. In my later years I have met people like me, and we all agreed that you find a way to do what you want to do. Jim Abbott, professional baseball player, is one of my heroes.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story I have a nine month old son that was born with abs he is missing his left hand and I worried about him getting married …wearing a wedding ring… kids teasing him at School was he going to do certain things but as he grows I’ve noticed that he does everything his brother did when his brother was 9 months old I have to agree it is much easier when you are born with missing limbs because he is functioning in his normal and last night was the first time he held his bottle all by himself I had a proud mommy moment…lol

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