The Horrible Truth

Mother of 3 DD sons and member of LPA for almost 40 years

(This article originally appeared in the Portland Oregonian, 1966, and more recently in LPA Today, Vol 39(2), 2003.)

I watched him and my heart ached. My son, Randy, nearly 6, was laughing at the athletic antics of the "big boys" in the back yard--he was stretching to clap, trying to jump.

He looked so small, I thought, and the others so big. They were older, 8 to 10, but he would probably never be even as tall as they were now.

I stood in the shadow at the open window and wondered if this would be the day. For the five years since his birth, I'd dreaded the moment he would realize how different he really was, how his arms and legs were only half the length of "normal" people.

"Strange," the doctor said to his father and me at his birth, "Doesn't seem possible that such tall people could produce a dwarf." We were surprised too, having assumed "little" people came from little parents--or not really thinking much about it at all. We later learned it was probably a rare recessive gene we both carried. It really didn't make much difference, however, what caused it. We had him, loved him and, after a time, he didn't seem so different--just small and cute.

But now he was five and his questions and observations were maturing. It couldn't be too long before the horrible truth of people's reactions to "different" people was apparent to him.

'Why can't I stop time,' I thought. He's so happy now. He loved to have the neighborhood children play in his yard and they found the gym set, slide and absence of constant supervision reason enough to gather there. Randy couldn't actively compete, but watched and laughed. One day the shrieks and screaming grew louder as the boys tried a new game--a contest to see who could jump over our fence using only one hand on the top. A boy, new in the neighborhood, had joined the group and was the only one who mastered the trick.

The activity suddenly stopped as the visiting friends spoke quietly in a huddle. The newcomer was obviously asking about Randy.

I stiffened as someone yelled, "Hey Randy, tell Bill how old you are."

I'm five and a half," he said proudly.

Bill threw back his head in exaggerated laughter. "Ha--you look like a baby to me," he scoffed.

I watched in agony as the group walked over to him. Should I go out, I wondered? I forced myself to remain behind the window curtain.

"You a midget, kid?" Bill asked maliciously.

"No, I'm just short," Randy answered, his smile fading.

"Lookit his arms? They sure look funny."

"Aw, knock it off," said one of the regulars, "Let's jump the fence some more."

"You jump the fence real good," Randy said shyly to Bill, who was still standing closely and staring.

"Yah," said Bill, squaring his shoulders, "I can do most anything."

"Can you stand on your head?" asked Randy?

"Sure, just watch."

When the feat was accomplished, Randy clapped and shouted, "Wow!"

"Ya want me to do a backward somersault, Randy?" asked Bill.

"Yes," was the eager reply.

I watched with amazement as the boys fought over Randy's approval--new one most of all. They had all forgotten his uniqueness and were knocking themselves out for an appreciative audience.

"Maybe when you get bigger, kid, I'll teach you how to jump over the fence," said Bill, panting. "Or maybe we could make you some stilts."

"That'd be great," said Randy with excitement.

I turned from the window and felt ashamed -- that I hadn't realized that the truth wasn't really so horrible after all -- that we had a really special person in our family and that the rest of the world might be special enough to see it.

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