Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Adaptation Dinner (Walk in Another's Shoes)

The Story:

Today as we returned home from the pool, one of our favorite high school seniors was lying in our grass with a neighbor girl, Tessa. Tessa has many handicaps, and I am not certain exactly what they are but she has difficulty communicating,and will often use some sign language. "Why doesn't she talk?" my girls asked. "Why will she only walk with Steph?" I knew this was a discussion that merited more than a quick answer, though I gave them that.

At dinnertime, I sat the family in the family room. I talked about how we were each born with different physical and mental characteristics. Those of us with contacts raised their hands, those with anxiety raised their hands. Those with blue, brown, or green eyes raised their hands. Now, we are going to play a game. Let's pretend we were born with different traits. Let's each pick a quality that we will have to live with tonight. Each picked a slip of paper.

  • Ladybug experienced my sister Ivy, whose elbow was fused in a horrific fall from a cliff. (tube wrapped up her right arm so it could not bend)
  • Little Mother was blind (dark sock with a safety pin)
  • I was deaf (earplugs)
  • Sunshine walked in Tessa's shoes or someone who spoke a different language. All she could say for the evening was "moo goo".
  • Russ tried to experience the basketball girl's life and could only move around on his behind.

Our meal was different. I screamed as people who can't hear usually do. Little Mother felt fearful of falling, so she scooted around the floor, and kept asking others to help her with her food. Ladybug switched to her left hand, and found it wasn't quite as handy. Sunshine took a long time to learn to communicate what she wanted. After dinner, we talked about our feelings. Ladybug was frustrated. Little Mother felt frightened. Sunshine was frustrated. Briz sat on his heiny and didn't want to move anywhere because it was convenient. I felt isolated from my family since I couldn't hear them.

We then went into the study where I pulled up stories of people with handicaps who had adapted with great success. We spoke of Helen Keller, Arthur Ashe, The basketball girl, and a young man with autism who was cheered on in basketball by his school. The girls were fascinated and wanted more and more.

Briz and I then explained that all these people didn't give up, and found ways to adapt and thrive despite things in their life that weren't "perfect". All of us felt a bit more understanding of those we knew, and some we didn't.

Recipe of the Day: This is such an simple main dish salad with fresh flavors for summer. We Love it!
Rylstone Chicken Salad

2 BBQ chicken breasts, sliced (You can use leftover, I LOVE Grill Mates Mesquite Marinate for 30 min.)1-2 chopped shallots or 1/2 red onion, finely sliced. (I saute the onions as it is better for my stomach)
1 mango, sliced
1 avacado, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
grapes, halved
Mixed greens


Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1 tablespoon warmed honey

  1. On a bed of mixed greens, arrange chicken, avacodo, mango, onion, cucumber and grapes.
  2. Place all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake till well mixed. Pour over salad 30 minutes before serving time.
  3. Keep in the fridge.


  1. I adore this idea for teaching kids love and walking in another's shoes! Plus...that salad looks awesome!

  2. How even more difficult to have so many obvious challenges in one family dinner. I guess we're all dealing with some things- some less obvious than others. Salad is on my menu!

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  4. Delicious dinner idea! Wonderful family idea! I love you creativity and sensitivity. Thanks for your blog.