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My Kids Make Things Weird

“What do I do when my kid stares at an amputee in public?”

I get this question from parents every once in a while, and honestly I feel their pain. You can’t control what kids say; they tend to be the least-filtered population on the planet. While I don’t have kids myself, I do have nieces and nephews. As they grow older, it’s both amazing and flabbergasting (did I just use that word?) to witness how their minds and mouths work sometimes. 

Personally, I love to show kids my prosthesis and teach them what it does. They see a girl walking around with a real-life “robot leg,” and they want to know why I have it and how it works. Children’s questions never come from a malicious intent – they’re genuinely curious about something they haven’t seen before. More often than not, I find that answering them in the right scenarios is eye-opening for all parties involved. Also, it’s just plain fun.


I had many, many years where I had no interest in conversation about it. And even now, if I’m going about my day and not in the mood to talk, I don’t enjoy being stared at. Actually, an experience at a local public pool a few weeks ago is what gave me the idea to write this blog post in the first place. 

I was waiting to get into the pool (with my prosthesis on), and a few kids stopped in front of me and stared. They pointed and talked to each other about the leg, and I’m talking they stood two feet in front of me for a solid 3-5 minutes – zero personal space or a way to block it out. Normally, that wouldn’t really bother me. But honestly I was already in a bad mood. I was waiting to swim and get some of my frustration out, and I just didn’t have it in me to have a
“teachable moment” with some random person’s kids. I just wanted to be left alone, and kept thinking, “where the heck are these kids’ parents that they don’t realize what their children are doing?” The children were young – under the age of 7, so they really didn’t know any better. They needed an adult to be aware of the situation and to guide them through it.

So, dear parents, with the understanding that these are my opinions and don’t necessarily apply to all prosthesis-users, here are my thoughts and tips:

  1. If you notice your kid staring or they say something loudly about an amputee nearby, don’t pretend like it never happened or that the person is also deaf. Look at them and smile to say hello, tell your kid what the prosthesis is, and move on.
  2. Keep it simple. Sometimes, an amputee will be open to conversation and showing the kid something about the leg. If that’s the case though, they will let you know that. It shouldn’t be an EXPECTATION on a prosthesis-user to explain their situation to anyone. 
  3. It’s not fair to expect an amputee to have supernatural patience. It’s not fun to be stared at incessantly, asked questions when you’re not in the mood, or touched without permission. All I mean by this is to AWARE of the situation. Know the difference between when your child is being curious or bordering on rude, and gently prod them on if it’s leaning towards the latter. (Sidenote: I’m talking about KIDS here, not toddlers. No one expects a “teachable moment” in these scenarios with their 3 year old who stares at everything under the sun.)

You’re not responsible for kids being kids. In my opinion, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about your kid seeing something new and being curious about it. To me, that’s just a natural reaction.

It’s a balance of encouraging curiosity, while also being aware of the situation enough to make sure the amputee doesn’t feel like a zoo animal. The more YOU learn yourself as a parent, the better you can educate and normalize the scenario for your kids. 

Hope these tips were helpful. ❤️

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