Those closest to me know of my obsession with all things NPR. I listen to the local station on my way to and from work and I listen to This American Life, RadioLabs, Wait Wait…, and Studio 360 podcasts on my iPod throughout the day. A few months back, I went to a live broadcast of a special episode of This American Life called “Invisible Made Visible” during which Ryan Knighton tells the story of when his young daughter first fully understood what it means that her dad is blind. The segment I want you to hear is in Act 1 of the show so I recommend you hop on over and listen to it now (or read Act 1 in the transcript). I’ll wait.
Pretty great, right? I especially teared up at the moment, when Tess says so matter of factly that Papa doesn’t see and she so aptly points out that Mama does see, and asks earnestly whether Tess sees like Mama. At this moment I thought forward in my life to when I have my own child. I imagine us sitting down to dinner and a conversation going something like this:
We are sitting in the kitchen and I ask the kiddo to pass me a cookie and she does. And I reach for it and and grab my pump from my side at the same time.
And she says, “Mama has diabetes!” And I’ll think, that’s what I’ve been saying!
And we’ll say “Yes, Kiddo. Mama has diabetes.” And then she’ll have to check.
“Papa doesn’t have diabetes.”
And we’ll say, “No, Papa doesn’t have diabetes..”
And she’ll say, “Kiddo doesn’t have diabetes?”
And we’ll say, “No, Kiddo does not have diabetes.”
And some time later, we will be at a restaurant and as our food is arriving, Kiddo will grab my hand and put it on my pump and she’ll finally understand the connection.
~~Stolen/adapted from Ryan’s words
While diabetes and blindness are drastically different beasts, I sat listening to Ryan Knighton feeling a bit like a kindred spirit. We are both different; we both have something in our lives that effects they way we interact with the world but is barely visible at a glance. Someday I will have to figure out how much of my difference becomes my child’s concern and how to make her understand..