Please do not tell me, Doctor
An appeal from P. Perdix. Send it to others if you wish
Please do not tell me, Doctor, that my baby is disabled.
It is such a leaden word to hang around such a young neck.
This medical label you would use (as if a label were necessary)
speaks only of what she cannot and possibly will not do.
You can tell me her vision is impaired, her hearing is limited,
her brain is not sending the right messages to legs, arms and
hands. You can tell me her reflexes are immature and that
she is not yet doing what other babies of her age can do.
Then I will tell you, if you will really listen and believe, how
she smiles when she sees me, laughs when I tickle her and rolls
to get her teddy. Then about the games we play in the bath, how
she touches my face, tries to sing, looks so sad when I cry.
You cannot know what she will be doing next year or when
she is five years and ten years old. By the time she is fifteen
she might be into music, painting, swimming, horse-riding, sailing.
She might be in a group of mutually supportive teenage friends.
When she is twenty-five she could be doing something amazing
to raise money for children in need. At thirty, a way might be
found for her to talk to medical students about respect, rights
and positivity. You have no idea what abilities she is hatching.
Of course, as a young woman she might decide to adopt
the disability label as a political stance. Her choice entirely.
In the meantime, if you must have a label to hang on her,
please choose another word that is less condemning,
a word for which there is real evidence, not one that is
predictive guesswork in a negative mindset, a word that is
carefully selected to help her through her unusual life.
Your disability label is not doing either of us any good.