Finding the right fit
For the first two chapters in my story, I focused on the physical – what growing up was like in terms of development, and my experience with doctors. Today, I want to talk about my favorite childhood superheroes.
I became a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid. I gravitated toward them because the turtles had 3 fingers on each hand, so I automatically thought I was full of "Turtle Power" too. Raphael was my favorite ninja turtle because we had some characteristics in common.
Raphael always had something to prove, and he was on a mission. Society has a tendency to make limb-different people feel inadequate, so we become perfectionists and over-achievers just to prove to society that we're merely capable. That's the Raphael in me. Raph is considered the "angry one" of the ninja turtles, and I can identify with that as well. Being limb-different can be frustrating at times because we live in a world that's designed for able-bodied people.
As an example: finding a pair of gloves that will fit and allow a firm grip. This one, seemingly small, dilemma includes winter gloves, latex gloves, softball gloves, batting gloves, gardening gloves, those yellow, rubber dish gloves, etc. To the able-bodied: think of all the times you've worn a pair of gloves in your life. Now, think of all the times you took for granted that your gloves fit you.
Now, think of all the times that you wore a pair of shoes that fit BOTH of your feet. My feet are 2 sizes apart, so shoe shopping is interesting. Shoes and gloves are 2 things that remind me that I'm different every single day. Sometimes, those reminders can bring out the Raphael in me.
These days, many limb-different kids identify with Nemo, the cartoon fish with a small fin that just keeps swimming. In fact, many people will refer to their own limb difference as their "lucky fin" or their "nub".
Nemo didn't exist when I was a kid, but lucky for me, my last name is Stubbs, so I didn't get much choice in what people called me – but I did have the Turtles and Raph gave me someone to relate to – and look up to when things got rough. (And with that, on to middle school – the gift that keeps on giving!)