Little Helpers


Little Helpers

     "Ready Mommy." The sweet voice of her four-year-old daughter floated into the bedroom where Kerry completed her dressing and preparations for them to go out for the day. Stuffing her slate and stylus in the special side pocket of her backpack, checking that her Braille shopping list was there, and the unused note-cards, Kerry answered, "Okay, Sweetie." Then to further engage her daughter in conversation, loving how this beautiful little girl's vocabulary and curiosity was developing so early, she teased, "By your tone, the way you said that, Mommy has to wonder, are you saying you are ready or are you asking me if I am ready?"

     "Mom--mee! I'm so ready! I have my purse; I have my shoes on; I have my tiny bear."

     "Pink socks?" Asked Kerry. Earlier the two of them had worked on matching up clothing according to color.

     "Yes!" Said Kelly, stamping her foot in emphasis. "You know I really wanted to wear my ducky socks, but the yellow goes with my yellow sandals and not these pink shoes. And, I've got my pink heart bear!"

     "Wow. You must look super nice, Sweetie."

     "And I have your white cane, too." Said Kelly. Her next statement had the definite tone of child-like sarcasm, "Are you going to wear something white to go with it?"

     "You bet," said Kerry, "How about my wedding dress? No, a snowman suit!" They both were ggiggling as they left the front porch.

     "Mommy, the tulips are open!" Said Kelly, rushing over to the bed of assorted, brightly colored flowers.

     Side-by-side, both kneeling, Kerry reached out but missed finding the intended blossom until Kelly's small hand helped guide her. "Thank you, Sweetie, sometimes I will need help and you can help Mommy. But always remember, Mommy's job is to teach you and be responsible for you until you grow up. So, which color is this one, Miss Crayola Bear?"


     "Well...Miss Crayola, from that end of the row of tulips, count down to this one for me, please." Kerry and her husband had planted these bulbs together and just the day before they had looked over the emerging flower buds and Kerry knew the progression of colors along the row.

     "One, Two, Three, Four, Five."

     "Ahah. This one is a color like pink, but this shade of pink...remember how you have light and dark pink socks in your drawer? Well, this is another type of pink and it is called fuchsia."


     "Fuchsia. You got it on the first try, Miss Crayola! Add another color to your color box and good for you!"

     On their way, Kerry made it a point to reinforce another lesson the two of them had started working on. At the first intersection Kerry said, "Now Sweetie, what did Mommy say about crossing a street?"

     "Stop, look, and listen." Proudly the little girl said. "Just like your Mommy taught you, and her mommy taught her."

     "Very good. And why do you need to stop?"

     "Cause there might be a car and it would hurt me."

     "Yes. Always be safe, streets are where the cars go; we people walk on the sidewalk. And why do you need to look?"

     "To see if a car is coming."

     "Yes, very good. And why do you need to listen?"

     "If you are blind?" Said Kelly in a serious tone, looking up at her mother.

     "Yes, Kelly, that's how I do it, but how do you think listening might help you?"

     "Ah, I know! If I can't see the car coming?"

     "Yes. Because some streets curve or there are bushes so you cannot see very far to tell if a car is coming."

     Later, in the vegetable section at the food mart, "Hmm, I wonder where they put the apples?" Kerry said, having found bags of nuts where she knew they'd had apples last week.

     "Mommy, can I help?"

     "Sure Sweetie. You find the apple section for us and I'll find the variety we like."

     On the way home, at a busy lighted intersection, Kerry asked, again teaching, "Okay, Miss Crayola Bear, see the cars going across in front of us? Now look up at the traffic light. Do you see what color is shining brightest?"


     "Madam, you have a very adorable helper there." Said a man's voice. Then he spoke directly to Kelly. "And you Honey, Mommy's Little Helper, you sure are taking good care of your mother. So when these cars stop, you take her across. Okay?"


e-mail responses to

**1. It always amused me when people said, "I bet you are a big help to your mommy!" always in a cooing voice to my daughter aged two years. I couldn't help
wondering how they thought she had managed to survive babyhood if I truly needed her help to function. Yes, I taught my girls colors and their alphabet
and even before they could read big words, they often helped locate the correct box of Jell-O by spelling out the words on the box, but I didn't have them
in order to use them as surrogate readers, future drivers or child guides. In many ways, I was a more careful mom because I kept a portion of my attention
focused on them at all times. My children never had to demand my attention by shouting in a progressively louder voice. I knew that the scrape of a chair
and the clink of a ceramic lid meant that Kassia was getting into the cookie jar or that Angelyn was jumping on her bed by the sounds of the springs. It's just plain weird that the public can make such erroneous assumptions. It is the same lack of credit they give me as a guide dog handler when they
exclaim over how well my dog takes care of me. No credit is given me as a dog handler in wayfinding and directing my dog's actions.

DeAnna Quietwater MO USA

**2. I'm not a parent, but have seen this happen, often. As a matter of fact, it
even happens with my husband and his guide dog. People assume that, since
the child (or dog) can see, they must, naturally, be the one "taking care" of the blind person. It doesn't seem to matter that the blind person is a
fully-grown adult and has responsibility for the child (or dog). The fact
that the little one has sight makes some people figure that sight, alone,
affords the ability to insure safety.

This is so far from the truth. I think, if they'd take a moment to think
about what they've just said, they'd realize how foolish it is. The little
girl is just four years old...not even old enough to cross a street safely
by herself. But, some people assume that she is caring for her "poor blind"
mother, since she can see and her mother can't. Yes, the little one can be
a helper, in some finding the apples in the store. But,
the mother is still always the one in the position of decision maker...not
the four year old.

When the gentleman made the comment about the four year old taking good care
of her mother, at the street corner, it was time for Mom to do some gentle
public education. She can explain that the little girl is learning about
crossing streets and telling colors of lights, flowers, her socks, etc.
But, she needs to emphasize that she, (the mother) is totally responsible
for her daughter and is taking care of her...not the other way around.

To comment, just a little about my husband and his guide dog...People have
commented, "Aren't those dogs wonderful! They take such good care of you!"
Well, the dogs are wonderful, but, as with a child, (the dogs have the
mentality of a small child), the decision making is up to the blind
handler...except in the case of a danger situation when the dog uses the
intelligent disobedience, which he learned. But, here again, the sighted
public associates sight, even the sight of a dog, with the ability to be a
care taker.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, PA

**3. It's an ongoing education, and we have to always remember to take the
opportunity to AS a blind parent of a 4 year old daughter, a 3 year old son and a 19 month
old daughter, I can certainly relate to this provoker, although there are
actually two topics for discussion.

First, there's the reaction of people in the public. In my experience, some
people understand that I'm the parent, and some think that my 4 year old
takes care of me. In truth, I don't usually try to educate the occasional
uninformed member of the public who compliments my daughter on how she takes
care of me. Instead, I acknowledge the fact that my daughter is a good
helper, and we continue on our way. For me, the real task at hand is not to
educate the bystander. Instead, my job is to educate my daughter, and I
won't do that by trying to set strangers straight. To be sure, we can (and
sometimes do) discuss the actions and statements of others, but we do it in
private. That gives me the space and time to say what I want rather than
what I happen to be thinking when some innocent but uninformed soul injures
my pride. In the meantime, what I try to do with my daughter is to remind
her that she is a big help to me, and that all kids can be big helpers for
their parents. Sometimes, she helps me because she has sight, and I'm
blind. Sometimes, she helps me by doing what I ask or just being a good
girl as any child should be. Sometimes, she helps me just by being in my
life. By the way, it's my general impression that people actually treat me
with greater respect when they see me with my kids. I think it's because
when they see me with my kids, they can see me as a parent and not just as a
blind man. This is not surprising because very few people think they have
anything in common with a blind man, but many can identify with the
challenges, concerns and joys of being a parent. By the way, this respect
is especially true for women because they see so many men who are poor dads
and who are lazy and who leave the raising of kids to their wives or
girlfriends. On the contrary, they see me as involved, hanging out with my
kids and enjoying them, and just doing the things that I need to do. So on
the whole, I think that having my kids with me (despite the occasional odd
comment) helps to add depth and color to the positive image I can portray as
a blind man about the capabilities of blind people.

The second topic here is that of having your kids help you as a means of
accommodating your blindness. I know lots of blind parents, and now that I
am one, I can say that I've seen many instances of blind people using their
kids as a means of overcoming the challenges of blindness. Sometimes, I
think it's perfectly fine, and I've done it myself. After all, my kids can
help me a lot in the finding of shoes department or the identifying of the
unlabeled can department. However, I've seen some very unfortunate examples
of parents relying on their kids, and even at a very young age. I've seen
people use their kids as virtual personal care attendants--having them do
everything from get them cups of coffee at ACB chapter meetings, to helping
them find the restroom or get across the street.

I recognize the temptations associated with having a sighted child who can
(and who is usually only too willing to) help, but I can assure you that
every time you give up your power and independence as a parent, you give up
a bit of control, and you also blur the lines of authority and the
definitions of parent and child and ultimately, of who's in charge.
From my standpoint, I am the parent, and I have to remain in charge, and if
I have to avoid letting my kids do certain tasks for me in order to maintain
control, then that's a price I just have to pay. I also think there's an
issue of ethics and fairness. My kids didn't choose me. It's not their
fault that I'm blind and that my blindness sometimes makes some tasks harder
for me to do independently. They have their own wants, needs and indeed,
they have their own lives. It would be unfair of me to impose my needs on
them and my demands on their time.

So for me, while the division of responsibility isn't perfect, I try to keep
in mind the following as I contemplate asking my kids for help. 1) If I ask
for help, am I giving up parental control? 2) If I ask for help, is it
because I need it, or is it more as a matter of convenience? 3) If I ask
for help, what am I interrupting for them? Are they playing, watching TV or
doing something else, and do I have the right or true need to take them away
from their life? 4) Is there any benefit for them helping me, e.g. some
aspect of learning or sense of accomplishment that they can gain from
providing the assistance?

Anyway, I think these are important issues which every blind parent should
consider, and if I as a parent respect these boundaries and my kids as
people, I think most of the rest of the issues and the concerns of people
take care of themselves, and if my kids and I are comfortable with our relationship and with each other, then the commsents of others mean much less
than if we're actually living the blurred existence of blind parents who
accepts too much from their helper children.

Ron Brooks Phoenix, AZ ACB-L listserv

**4. Jennifer was two and a half when I became totally blind. After I'd passed
through that period of fear, anger, poor me and why me, I entered a training
program and began to try to build a new life for me and my family.
Jennifer and I used to take walks together. Usually to a small neighborhood
grocery about five blocks away, where we could share a couple of candy bars
without needing to mention it to her mother.
We were walking along, holding hands and talking about why the sky is blue
and how come the clouds stay up there and don't fall to the ground, when I
noticed that someone had just walked past us without uttering a single word
of greeting.

By the pull of her arm, I could tell that Jennifer had slowed and turned to
look at the person.

"What are you doing?" I asked her.

"That lady was staring at you when she went by and when I looked back she
was just standing there staring. So I stuck my tongue out at her."

What do I say to my child? "Perhaps the lady has never seen a blind man
before", or "Maybe she thinks it's sad that a little girl like you has a
blind daddy".
No. I knelt down by my daughter and said in a firm clear voice, "This is
why mommy and I teach you good manners. Some people's parents didn't care
enough about them to instill good manners in them when they were young."

My three children have grown up believing that blindness is just a normal
part of their dad.
In raising my children I have made my share of mistakes, had times when I
was not attentive enough, and could be grumpy and short of patience. But
none of my children ever said, "It's because he's blind, you know."

When James was eight and Renae was six, I was doing duty as a single parent.
We were in Albertson's grocery store doing our gathering and hunting for the
"My, you youngsters certainly are taking good care of your daddy," a man
boomed out, squatting down to their level.
James looked at him and said, "Dad's teaching us to be smart shoppers". I
bust my buttons when I heard that. The children had to grab me by the shoe
laces and pull me back to earth, or I'd have soared through the roof.

I have never used blindness as an excuse in front of my children. I have
never spoken of, "WE" and "THEY" in talking about blind and sighted people.

Teaching my children to see blindness as just another part of who their dad
is, and many of his friends, made it easy to understand that being black was
just a part of who are next door neighbor's were, or that being Gay was just
another part of who the two ladies down on the corner were.
I tell you, I burst with pride when I see the total respect that my children
pay to everyone they meet. They are among the truly beautiful people of
this Earth.

Carl Jarvis ACB-L Listserv

**5. I like this one Mr. Newman, the little girl is very knowing for a 4 year-old and the mother is very knowing to teach her sighted child.


Sean Moore Georgia, USA

**6. That is very nicely done. If you read my Kernel Book story "From the
Tricycle to the Cookie Jar," you will read my version of this story. It is
certainly maddening, and it proves that people will always see what they
expect to see unless somehow they are hit over the head with the truth.

Barbara Pierce

...FROM ME: fKernel Books can be found on There are a series of them. They are real life stories of experiences the blind have had in their dealings with the sighted public. There is much to be learned by reading them.

**7. Wow! These thought provokers are really that. plea
The scene is quite pleasant. The bonding between daughter and mother is very warm and loving. The sharing
of thoughts and feelings is precious, with a divine guidance so ever present.

I still don't know what shade of pink they were discussing. The time taken to enjoy the new bloomed tulip and it's color. The sharing of God's wonderful
gifts here on earth! Walking down the street with mother's teaching of the safety guidelines when crossing the street. Teachings that will protect the
daughter when she is ton her own playing by her self as well as with others. Come to think about it, it will also apply thru out the daughter's life. The instructions are so gentle, reminding the little girl about paying attention to the surrounding obstacles that can hide a child from a driver's view,
driving down the street. While the little girl is acknowledges the mother's instruction, I get a feeling that the girl is also receiving the sullen learning
by the little girl in being responsible for your own actions and more importantly, safety. How about those apples? They weren't where they use to be!
When has that ever happen to the rest of us? Sighed or blind! Mother's parenting is most instructional to all of us, well, to me , at least! Ah, the man's
voice. Meaning well, yet intrusional . Of course we all know the innocence of this kind gesture. Teaching the sighted is not, I repeat, not easy, nor
ever ending! I wonder what the daughter's thoughts were at this moment? We will never know, just as well. We go on, as I'm quite sure that's what mother
and daughter did.
Thought Provoking, oh, I already said that.

Good By Folks,

Jack E. Mindrup Omaha NE USA

**8. As a parent of a 6 month old baby I have given the issue of my child's role some serious thought. I think it is important for a child to be allowed to be a child gaining opportunities for life experience play and learning, in the same way as a child who has sighted parents. however, children love to help and they should be allowed to do so as long as they are not given any responsibilities that are not age appropriate.
I think it is very dangerous to describe children as little helpers. they are not. they are children.

Alison Jayne Connor

Visual Impairment Team

Carlisle Adult social care, UK

**9. A few months ago, I was taking my oldest son, Jacob, to the bathroom in a
fast food joint. Jacob is learning to read, and I wanted him to use his new
skills to help him figure out which bathroom would be appropriate. As he
was reading the signs on the doors, a strange man came forward, and tried to
direct me towards a bathroom. I tried to explain that I was teaching my
son, but he didn't seem to understand that. Jacob of course picked the
correct bathroom, but I was upset that a total stranger would try to deprive
me of my teaching moment.

Kasondra Payne NFB Parents of Blind Children Mailing list

**10. "…So when these cars stop, you take her across. Okay?"…"

Scary attitude! People used to say the same thing to our daughter, age 3, when she and her father went to the store. But she knew better, and I imagine
Kelly would too.

Lori Stayer NY USA

**11. This is a wonderful story. Although I have no children of my own there is an age difference of eleven years between myself and my youngest sister so that when she was four years old I was fifteen. I was able to teach her about blindness in much the same way as this mother taught her daughter.

Blind from birth, I didn't think about helping her with her colors; that was for the sighted members of our family to do, but I taught her about Braille and I taught her how to walk with me and I taught her many of the basic things that sighted people need to know as they relate to us. She in turn taught me how to retain the wonder and joy of learning. She challenged me with questions about the world and about God and everything else imaginable.

We are now both middle-aged ladies but she is still challenging me to think outside the box and to have vision far beyond what I would have without her in my life. I would credit her with helping me understand the concept of having vision when my eyes don't have sight.

Chris Coulter ACB-L listserv

**12. A touching reminder that people living with disabilities just live life differently. As a mom, I remember the first time my daughter told one of her playmates
that I touch things in order to see them.


Ann Chiappetta, M.S. New Rochelle, NY

**13. This is a good one. It's been said that values and lessons are "caught,) if not necessarily taught. I don't know if that many four-year-olds are as articulate
as this scenario indicates; not so sure the training is as intensive as in this scenario, but yes, training does go on, an in the course of raising a child,
these conversations do realistically take place, although maybe not at the intensity of this story.
I know our girls, who are now 17 and 21 will tell you in retrospect that the ignorant although well-meaning comments of people were annoying. When they
got a mom's-helper question, once they were in upper grade school, they had the self-assuredness to answer "No."
Just the other day my seventeen-year-old and I went to pick up a prescription for my husband. Since she isn't 18 yet, can't sign for it, so needed me to
come along. We were waiting in line and she was on her cell phone with a friend. When it was my turn at the counter, the attendant told her it wasn't
a good idea to be on the cell phone when picking up a prescription. She said, "It's not for me." I then said, "I'm the one you're dealing with." . .
. And the education process goes on . . . and on . . .

Judy Jones

**14. As usual, thank you so much for this thought-provoker, and also for placing it on the web for the “entire WWW” to read and learn from,” (I love how you
put that). As usual, I am filled with rage! Sighteds always assume that the child with the sight is the helper. In this story, the mother, Carrie, was
helping Kelly, teaching her how to cross a street, among other things. Kelly was helping her mother as well, but the two were working as a team. When
will the public learn that we are capable people who use alternative techniques?

I will be responding to the responses of others o n this list, and I love how you say, “taking issue with the content, and not with the person”. Back at

Peace with Justice


**15. It is a sighted world, and like any mother, Kerry wants her daughter to succeed. She wants to teach her daughter everything even the subtle shades of color.

I have a blind friend who was teaching her daughter how to play the piano. She referred to the keys as the bumpy and smooth keys. I have always found
that curious. My friend would not even use the words black or white. I asked her about this, and she said that to do otherwise would be like a cat trying
to teach a dog how to swim.

Greg mon

**16. Another branch of controversial discussion would be why do some
visually impaired folk choose a mate with sight over another visually
impaired mate. Hopefully the answer is because of "love" and not because
one feels life will be a lot simpler. However, both situations could be
viewed the same as a blind parent and a sighted child. Just food for

Kim Lookingbill ACB-L listserv

**17. Question: As a future TVI, I know that it will be important for me to teach color recognition to my students. For the basic colors, I plan to label items with those particular colors on them, hold them up for my partially sighted kids and say, this is brown, this is pink, or to say, grass is green, Etc. But Dr. Newman s thought provoker this month brings up a very salient point: As one who is blind from birth, I find the situation of the
blind mother teaching her child what fucia is rather unrealistic. There is no way I would ever take the time to painstakingly memorize what color each
flower bulb I planted is, as is described in the thought provoker (since there are so many other things that need memorizing), or that I would know
how to tell a child about a subtlety of pink called fucia. Somehow, I take it that many adults blind from birth do know this information and can utilize
it in the way described in the thought provoker. My question: How does one who has never seen color get to this point? Is there a resource out there for
teaching subtleties of color to those who have never seen it so that they, in turn, can teach these nuances to their blind and visually impaired students?

Any information very much appreciated.


**18. This show that child and Mother has a very good line of talking with one
another. This show blind parent still can be parents.

Raise your child like he or she should go and you will have a child that
care for others.

This what so many parent today where are my child. Most today cannot tell
you where they child or do they care as long as they out under my feet. Parent treat your child like you like to be treated and you get a good that
care for you rest of there life.


**19. I very much liked the interaction between the mother and her small daughter. They were teaching each other. She was teaching her daughter, Carrie to be
organize, and about different colors. Carrie was always helping her mom in little ways such as matching up socks, the colors of the budding flowers etc. Her mom was teaching her the importance of safety in crossing streets, and helping her in the super market. I thought it was rather humorous but typical how the on looker assumed that Carrie would take care of her handicapped mom. This short story aptly demonstrated how family members can interact and help each other when one of them is disabled in any way. How we all need to be interdependent as well as independent in this life we live. As a poet said "no man is an island."

Friend ship and peace

Karen Crowder

**20. Oh, yes. Misinterpreting a teaching moment. I had someone tell my two-year-old toddler to take care of her mommy the other day. It was a clerk in the store.

Elizabeth Cooks NFB Parents of Blind Children Mailing List

**21. Hello Ron, I think you have a good balance in your attitude about allowing your children
to assist you. Having been parents of three sons, who are now thirty-two, thirty-six, and forty years old, Rob and I always maintained our leadership and in charge positions while allowing our sons to be of help in certain ways. One perfect example of that independent in charge position was our shopping at the grocery. A store clerk would assist us by pulling the cart while we pushed the cart, and the clerk would locate our groceries for us. Our children, when they were old enough to not sit in the seat of the cart and old
enough to read, would run after some grocery items and proudly announce their finds and ask if they should put them in the cart. Now that our kids are adults, I can honestly say that we must have done some things right because they are all caring, compassionate, responsible, and successful individuals.

Joyce Rogers ACB-L listserv

**22. I get the point: The blind mother actually knows more about traffic safety than her sighted child, and is teaching her so. The part about "not seeing a car coming" was an interesting equalizer, since nobody can see around a corner. Yet along comes this sighted guy, who has no clue what this woman or her child are doing, or are capable of doing. The comment "mommy's little helper" is obviously meant to be patronizing and condescending. It is written to convey the assumption that a blind adult needs her sighted child to go anywhere. (It should be noted that the woman is a cane user, not having a guide dog.) In all fairness, though, isn't this sort of "preaching to the choir"? I mean, a blind person wrote this, and is directing it to a mostly-blind audience. Therefore, the story should be tailored for that audience. Don't just remind your fellow travelers about the same old stuff you get from ignorant sighted people. You should also counter-balance it with advice on how to deal with it. It would also be interesting to have an alternate website, telling the same story from the sighted person's perspective. There are many of us (myself included) who honestly don't know they're doing anything wrong or awkward, and I think we would benefit from these Thought Provokers. Case in point: I'm taking a correspondence course in writing children's books. One assignment was to write a non-fiction piece. I wrote one titled, "You and the Blind: A Public Service Announcement." In it, I presented a scenario in which a High School student meets two blind kids, and they do and don't know the correct rules of socializing. My instructor was caught completely off-guard by the subject matter, and admitted that she herself had never met or seen a blind person, and would not have known the protocols. I have put my foot in it many times, and I offer my humble apologies to anyone who may have been offended by my ignorance. It was purely unintentional. There just needs to be more openness, more understanding, and more "coaching" on both sides.

David Lafleche Woonsocket, R.I.

**23. I hate to bring this up again, but, this is the same miserable old rehashed song about ignorant vision-related negative assumptions from Mr. Normal. The man walks up to them and talks to them both, but then has the automatic and patronizingly negative assumption that Kelly was unable to cross the street by herself with her techniques, training, and experience, and that she absolutely and always had to have a helper. There is always an underhanded put-down when somebody appears on the surface to be complimentary, but ruins it with their ignorance. Some things never change.

Mark Blier Sierra Vista, Arizona

**24. I think that Kelly's mom was doing a good job of teaching her the important things about crossing a street but I think that the person who came behind and told the child to help the mom is offal. I think that the sited person only saw the child answering the mom but didn't stop to think that the mom new how to cross the street on her own.


**25. A great one! This mother is doing great and her little daughter seems to be a very intelligent child. Hopefully, the mom told the stranger in a nice way, that it was not the child's responsibility to take care of her mommy, and that she was perfectly able to get her and daughter across the street safely. Further, the child should not go "when the traffic stops" as he suggested-she should cross on green after being sure the traffic had stopped! Helpful strangers mean well, but are not always helpful! We have to be on our guard against harmful advice.

Jim Theall, Longmont, Colorado

**26. I hope the mother was not angry with the "Big Helper." This man was well meaning, but misguided. I try not to make a difficult situation like this one even more difficult by making it into a confrontational encounter. This thought provoker would be good for discussion for us blind to talk about how not to let our anger out at the ignorant sighted public.

Marvin Polson

**27. Ron said it all about little helpers. That line of authority can't be
blurred when they are teens, or even pre-teens, or you will really lose control. The biggest mistake I ever made was getting a car for my sixteen-year-old son. I thought it wasn't fair and felt guilty that he was deprived of a car just because his mother happened to be blind. Well, life isn't fair. He had the freedom to go out after I was getting enough sleep to get to work in the morning. Then he'd be too tired to get up and go to school. Thank God for the redeeming grace of community colleges!

Now that he's 33, I suppose all guys, to a degree, take care of their aging parents. It isn't just a blind issue anymore. And should the occasional sighted guide function be assigned to an unsuspecting girlfriend? The saga will, no doubt, continue to unfold in ever-new and challenging forms, should I ever have grandchildren.

Abby Vincent ACB-L listserv

**28. probably every blind parent with sighted kids has had more of these kinds of experiences than can be counted. I am certain that perspective on this changes with age (what doesn't?) When I was young I felt it necessary to adamantly deny the assertions of those mentally blinkered folks who believed I was raising children for the sole purpose of helping me. On the other hand my kids always laughed at anyone suggesting that they (the kids) were there to support my every effort. My dilemma was that I believed strongly in having the kids do chores around the house; they were doing their laundry at ten, cleaning their rooms and cooking simple meals by 11. To those unaware, it seems that, yes, mom was truly relying on her kids to do the work. I had to learn to overlook those notions, knowing it was more important for the kids to learn responsibility. I reached a point sometime when they were in their teens when I had to say "I don't really care if people think my kids do everything for me; I've got more important things on my mind." Besides, the people who really mattered to me knew the reality of things. Further, once the kids moved out to go to school or marry, any myth someone might have been nurturing about my helplessness was then shattered. In the instance of this story, it seems that the next logical progression might be for the mom to smile politely, tolerantly, and get on with her day; her daughter is already more than aware of realities that will escape many adults she will encounter in the coming years.

Still educating after all these years

kat Guam

**29. That was very cute and very good to hear. Hopefully the little girl told the bystander that "My mommy can listen to the cars go before we walk. Mommy taught me that the street's where the cars go."


**30. Lovely story. I know that there will be a lot of discussion of how carry should respond, so here's my take. The fellow was being nice, not condescending or nasty. He saw a situation that he obviously did not understand, and perhaps warmth of the mother daughter relationship touched his heart. Now some of us think it's our job to correct every misperception of every person we meet -- I tend to take such an attitude myself, but what's more important than changing the bystander's attitude with a lecture is how Carry relates to her daughter -- the moment as opposed to a life time relationship. My advice -- smile knowingly, cross the street confidently, and continue raising your little girl as you do. Show through example rather than lecture. Again, my congratulations on a real thought provoker.

Robert Shelton

**31. On the issue of teaching color. From having conversations with my mom, I learned that she and dad took the aggressive approach to teaching color so that I could understand about them and their different nuances without being able to see them. Mom's take is that since we all live in a sighted world, she wanted me to understand it as much as possible. I may not have had the input of sight for the colors, but when growing up with the descriptive, that can add to the understanding of their use. Mom was always very vocal anyway. It wasn't good enough, for example, just to say, "She has a yellow dress on," rather, "She has this yellow dress, like a canary, bright, cheery yellow, makes you think of sunshine." I also remember mom describing a shade of yellow being "anemic" or "sickly." To me, this could mean a paler shade, a weaker yellow, like putting too much water in a good glass of Kool-Aid. I also learned how colors can make you feel soothed, or elicit different reactions, depending on the shades. I learned which colors make you think of warmth and heat, while others make you think of coolness. And tinges of one color added to another can either brighten it, make it look "warmer" or "cooler." As blind people, we can pick up on color descriptive in the books we read and apply them to our color knowledge. Authors have to be descriptive to get their story and mood across to the reader. I do agree with mom: sighted or blind, we do live in a world of color, and just because we can't see it doesn't mean it can't be a part of our lives, especially
in training our sighted children. Although my husband and I couldn't instruct our daughters on non-labeled items in their lives, as much as possible and convenient, we would find out about
what they were seeing. We made sure to teach them the basics. I sewed together a cloth booklet of 16 basic colors, with Braille labels sewn onto each
color swatch. This worked very well for us starting our sighted girls off into the wonderful world of color. We made it our business to know the colors
of their toys, their clothes, their socks . . . If I didn't know the color of an object in our house, I found out right away. I was never embarrassed
to ask, and I always do that when shopping for myself anyway. All part of the training process.

Judy Jones

**32. There were a lot of good responses to this provoker. My "better half" and I currently have a 3 year old and both of us are totally blind so of course it has been a learning session in more ways than one that's for sure. However, We teach and learn from one another, the important thing for us to remember is that he is your average 3 year old, even though his communication skills are such that are above average. Just as it has been said in prior posts we have to be careful in how we use or teach our kids when they are young because we don't want to establish with them from on the on set that we are going to be using them because of our lack of independence. It's important for example as when I'm not able to find something I dropped or to make sure I cleaned up the mess in the kitchen I will ask my son if he could do me the favor and come to wherever I'm at to assist me in finding "x". I'm figuring by asking him to do me a favor it's setting the tone for him to learn his manners and when he tries to demand we correct him with asking him how do you ask for something instead of saying I want "x". We have recently started crossing streets with him as well and we are teaching him about the stop signs as well as the traffic lights. He knows his colors so that's not a problem and we have also had his preschool teacher make the comment of what a good little helper he is. Recently, he saw me doing the sighted guide thing with one of my nephews, prior to that I would and still hold his hand, however, since that day he has been providing me with his are and currently I'm trying to teach him the difference between holding his hand verses holding him by the are. I guess it depends his mood because when he is feeling grown he'll ask me to grab him by his are, but when he's feeling like a kid then he will give me his hand to hold. Going back to his preschool teacher we had to early on let her know that even though it may look like he is a good helper which he is at home we had to explain to her that we as his parents are the ones who set the ground work for his learning. Since then she has been more than willing to inform us about the printed materials that have been passed out or events that are coming up and things of such. I think without setting the tone with her she would still be in the frame of mind that he is such a good little helper. I'm sure we will continue to encounter more of the above experiences since it's the summer and we will be out in the community more so we are just going to have to arm ourselves accordingly and be ready to educate the public at those respect times and not to allow those times to turn us off with the public since we all know the level of ignorance that's out there.



**33. In reading the narrative, I think that both mother and child help each other. Yes, the mother is teaching her daughter different things in life as all parents should be as their children grow up, but there's no reason why her daughter cannot help her mother. It has nothing to do with whether the mother is sighted or blind, or whether the mother is capable or incapable. Rather, it has to do with engaging her daughter in the mother and child relationship as well as teaching the child responsibilities and being helpful to others. When the two of them were preparing to cross the street on their way to the grocery store, they discussed what you do before you cross a street and why. Her daughter explained what to do and why, but the mother also added that listening for traffic is important in case there's a bend in the road that created a blind spot for you to see the oncoming car. Such a discussion not only constantly reinforces what the child has learned, but it gives the mother opportunity to add a little more to the lesson. When they got to the grocery store, the daughter's discovery that the apples had been moved puts into practice her own skills of what she's learned in distinguishing apples from oranges, apples from nuts, etc. Though I never got the opportunity to teach my brothers about crossing streets, they, too, have helped me identify the color of an item or read labels on containers. Yes, they grew up understanding my blindness as that I have broken eyes, but as they grew older, my blindness was something put on the back burner and just helping their big sister out when needed. In fact, my blindness and my relationship with them was as such that they would tell me things they would not tell Mom and Dad. Unfortunately, I am estranged from the family because I chose a Black man for a partner instead of somebody White, but that's another entire issue and story altogether.

Linda USA