Since David is about to turn 10 years old {gasp!} I’ve been reflecting on how his life has changed and molded me and made me more brave.

I remember a sunny Saturday when David was a baby. Steve and I {although we had no money} decided to splurge and go to Baja Fresh for lunch. I gathered diapers and food for David’s diaper bag while Steve strapped him into his car seat and off we went. When we arrived, Steve went up to order while I found a highchair for David and grabbed a table for us. While I was getting organized, I saw two boys, about 8 and 10 years old laughing and pointing to David. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could tell they had noticed his small hand with only two fingers and they were making fun of him.

My cheeks flushed bright red and my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. I wanted to climb under the table and hide. I wanted to grab David and run far far away where no one would ever be mean to him. I wanted to protect him from a life where the kids at school who would call him names and not include him in their recess activities. Instead, I sat there motionless while shame threatened to swallow me whole.

And then a spark of bravery ignited somewhere inside me. No. No. NO NO NO! I am not ashamed of my son. Yes, he only has two fingers on his left hand. Yes, he is different. But he is amazing and he is mine.

My first instinct was to go over and grab those kids by the collars of their tee shirts and scream at them. “How dare you laugh at my son!” I wanted to say. “You are awful, terrible kids!” But in my heart I knew. They didn’t understand David. They had probably never seen a baby with seven fingers. They were scared–so they tried to be cool.

Slowly, I unstrapped David from his carseat and carried him over to where the boys were sitting with their parents. I could see the looks of terror on their faces. They thought they were about to be in big trouble. But instead, I calmly said, “Hi, I’m Lisa, and this is my son David. I saw you notice him and I wondered if I could answer any questions for you.” They looked back at me with blank expressions. But the parents were incredibly kind. They asked how old David was, if he was healthy and thanked me for coming over to say hi.

I walked back to our table with my head held high and my chin quivering. It was one of the bravest and scariest things I had ever done. But I learned something about myself I hadn’t known when we left the house just a few minutes earlier. I wasn’t powerless. David was awesome–just the way he was, and I didn’t have to sit by and let shame swallow me up. I could stand up, I could be brave. And I thought maybe, just maybe I could change the world, one little conversation at a time.