If I was to describe to you my 2 year old son, Kristian, you would laugh and think “typical toddler”. He is a very terrible two when he wants to be; tantrums, defiance and wobbly lips galore: He is also a fiercely independent and a rather sensitive, empathetic toddler.
He loves to play with his 8 year old big brother and is getting to the stage of knowing how to annoy him. It only took him 2 years but he now has it down to a fine art! He stomps his feet and pouts when he wants his own way. He hugs children who are crying, because he wants to make them feel better. He demands crisps at every opportunity and would live on them if we let him. He is a whirlwind of energy that only stops when his favourite 'cbeebies' programme comes on. He laughs at funny faces and laughs more when you copy his. He also climbs on everything and anything that will get him to his goal of something he is ultimately not allowed.
He is also 63cm tall. He runs between everyone's legs, including his 8yr old brother's. He has to shout for help to get his favourite toy from the sofa. He runs after other two year old children and emulates them to the best of his ability and gets frustrated when he cant always do the same. He only just fits in 6-9 month baby clothes with the sleeves rolled up and has grown just a single shoe size in a year.
He has a form of dwarfism. Achondroplasia to be exact.
It doesn’t stop him. Sometimes it enhances his mischievousness. I'm convinced, that even at only 2 years old, he has learnt to use it to his advantage. At every toddler group we go to, he has an entourage of children (mainly little girls) helping him to do his bidding. He gets saved the best seats at the snack table. He is put first in line to the slide. He gets admiration and almost celebrity status from the adults.
More importantly, WE don't stop him. If he wants to try to climb the slide that’s twice his height, we help him once or twice then leave him to it. If he wants to run around with the other toddlers despite not being able to keep up, he does. If he wants to walk instead of going in his pram so he can jump in puddles, undoubtedly he ends up soaking and happy.
He has so many different things that make him who he is. Achondroplasia just happens to be part of that. Yes that means he is different, visually and physically; but in his head and to us? No he is not different. Is he special? Yes. Unique? Definitely. But then every child is different, unique, special. He just happens to have a rare element to that uniqueness.
Kristian is your average little boy, just more little than most. And that has no chance of stopping him. Unfortunately.