In December I wrote a Facebook post after Sheriauna had an experience while performing in a Wizard of Oz Panto theatre show for a group of school age children. These children at this particular show were in grades 6-8 so about ages 11-13 years old. This was a post truly from the heart and a place of emotion while still trying to put emotion aside in the moment of the situation to ensure that my daughter knew she was supported and that while it is not ok for someone to make another person feel uncomfortable in their own body we do need to try and understand the perspective of another person and why they may behave the way that they do.
December 2017 FB Post
Ok so as I sit here with Sheriauna napping I have been contemplating this post for most of the afternoon.... There are days when not everything is happy. Today at her last performance for school students she came into the dressing room after her first scene and I could see on her face that something was wrong. Of course she tried to brush it off but I saw the tears building up in her eyes. One of the fantastic Mom’s spoke words of encouragement to her and then when we had a private moment she broke down and told me that some of the kids in the audience were whispering and pointing at her arm.....cue MAMA BEAR! “Ok Mama Bear calm down and keep it together for her”...I asked Sheriauna, “who is on stage killing it?” She replied, “Me”.
After a couple of times of repeating this and really encouraging her to remember that she has nothing to be ashamed of, she went to the washroom to clean up and said to me through some tears and frustration “I don’t want to have to deal with this all the time!”. What do I say to that as a mother?? 😢. What I told her is that there are going to be these moments but we really can’t give people like that too much energy because when we do, they win. We hugged but then she rolled her sleeve down. I asked her why she was doing that and she shrugged. Background: Sheriauna only rolls her sleeve down when she is self conscious about her arm in certain environments. I told her to roll up her sleeve bc she has nothing to be ashamed of. I told her that she does not have to roll down her sleeve bc others can’t get over their own issues with the fact that she doesn’t fit their mould. Her fabulousness CANNOT be contained in their mould.
Thanks to all the concerned theatre parents who really stepped up and rest assured the incident will be addressed. Special thanks to all of Sheriauna’s theatre/dance friends who rallied around her to support her and show us what kindness and empathy looks like. They may never fully understand exactly how Sheriauna feels about her arm but they know what is ok and what is not ok and we all have something that makes us self-conscious at times so they get it!
I am writing this as a plea to any child, parent, or adult who has children that they are close to in their lives...please do not assume that just because your child is “good” or kind or sweet that they understand the concept of normalization, inclusion, empathy, understanding when it comes to people with differences. Just like we speak to our children about consent, bullying, having manners, gender, religion and a slew of other topics, a conversation around disability, exceptionalities and differences is necessary. It’s one thing to notice that someone is different and glance or wonder why they are not like you. It is a different thing to stare, point, whisper loudly and make someone very uncomfortable in their own body, especially when they are unable to escape the situation to feel safe and calm as was the case today for Sheriauna as she was in the middle of her performance. Sheriauna is resilient and I was so happy to see that she was back to her positive self by the end of the show but it’s not easy in those moments.
I know I can’t educate everyone, I can’t Mama Bear in each moment as I am trying to balance defending her and equipping her to stand up for herself. But if we all try to make the effort to have conversations with our children before situations arise or when we know something has happened that can generate a dialogue I hope that they will understand and do better so that no ones shine is dimmed even for a minute! ⭐️💃🏾
#iamsheriauna #everydaysheri #wearebeautiful #diversifiedtheatre #shineon #loveher #fierce
I was very thankful to the production team for contacting me to ensure Sheriauna was alright and for also contacting the school to address the matter. I am also happy that the teacher who brought the students to the show, when made aware of what happened, did have a conversation with all classes about the incident and why someone may be hurt by their behaviour. What I am most happy about is that by Sheriauna not being afraid to pursue her passions and dreams she exposed children to limb difference which then opened up the opportunity for dialogue to take place with students and their teacher regarding differences and disabilities.
My hope is that those students are a bit more open, a bit more understanding and will be a bit more kind the next time they are in a situation where they meet someone who doesn't look like them or fit into their idea of what "normal" is.