On being different

I watched a movie about Nick Vujicic yesterday and it reminded me of when I was seven years old, a new friend came over to our place. We were in the kitchen, making sandwiches, when my dad stepped in to take something, a lighter probably.

My friend did this little freeze where she sort of gasped and I asked what's wrong, but she didn't say. Only later when my dad had gone she said that she's sorry, she didn't know my dad's hand was like that.

And I went, "Oh." It was honestly the first time in my life when I remember thinking, my dad's hand is different. 

You see, his fingers were fused together, I just had to Google to even see how this thing is called - syndactyly - so instead of having five fingers his hand looked more like a... claw: there was one big digit where my thumb is and then another big digit opposite, where I have four other fingers.

I had always known his hand looked like that, and to me it was simply "the way dad is". I guess I knew that other people's hands were different, because I had ten fingers and my mom had ten fingers and basically the rest of my family all had ten fingers each - but in my child's brain it didn't click that different was, like, opposing different. I just knew that this was the way my dad was, and was never bothered with anything beyond that.

And watching this movie reminded me of it.

I sometimes wonder how these "don't point" or "don't look" politeness rules came about - that if there's a person that's somehow different, children are told not to stare. I understand it in general, sort of, but it has always made me uncomfortable in a way because it also feels... unnatural somehow. Why not look? Why not ask?

I've always been curious - I think most children probably are - and curiosity is how I learn. How most people learn. I think? (How do you learn?)

And though I haven't got the perfect answer, ignoring somehow feels like an incorrect one. Ignoring is about pretending that something doesn't exist - and that's also called, denial.

My dad always carried his hand in his pocket and seldom took it out in public, at least I never remember him doing so. I guess he must've been embarrassed, and I don't think children in his school were very tender with him about it back when he was a child - but I never thought about why exactly he carried his hand like that, not until it occurred to me that he's different. Almost every photo I have of him now is with his hand tucked away someplace. (And on another note, wasn't I cute?)

So, yeah, as a child, I just took the world the way it was. Did you?


  1. okay so you look exactly like you as a baby! :o) I can see the adult Maria in there - and yes were/are adorable! x

  2. You dad is looking like Mihail Bojarski, you look both very cute :). tervitused kunagiselt kaaskodulinlaselt.

    1. Ma nüüd pidin guugeldama kes on Bojarski, aga pilti nähes kohe tuli meelde, et jah, loomulikult! Oli jah VÄGA Bojarski moodi!

  3. That's a very interesting topic. Unfortunately I still don't always know how to react when I meet different people. How do you? For example when you meet someone who has... Don't remember in English... Kõõrdsilmsus? Do you ignore it or ask which eye you should look at?

    1. I'm sorry it's taken me almost a month to reply!

      I don't know the answer. A few months back when I met a lady who had eyes that pointed in different directions, I did ask her which is the one to look at, and she explained. We were in a situation where we worked together and spent time at meetings, so without asking I wouldn't have known which way she was actually looking, which makes it difficult at meetings. If I'd met her just in town at a playground, I don't think I would've asked.

      What do you do in this situation?