Chuck and I went out last night for dinner with his family though I'm not sure why. I guess because Chuck still loves them and whatnot, but oh man they remind me everytime we see them why I like to avoid them. Aside from the usual insults, this time we were talking about how we wanted to take Skyler to the zoo, but the weather has been horrible all summer. It's been stormy and cold most days and the few hot days were too hot to take an infant out to walk around in the sun. The conversation is progressing as it should I guess, when SIL says "Why bother? It's not like he's going to see much of anything anyway." My response was "...!?" at least I imagine that's how I'd translate it into type. Shocked silence I suppose we could call it. I'm not sure why I was shocked, they say rude things all the time.
The thing is she didn't really say it with malice or any sort of mean edge to her voice. I think she just really doesn't get it at all. Factually the sentence is true. He probably won't see a heck of a lot. He can really only see about 2 feet away from his face at most and a lot of the animals are further back, but they do have a petting zoo portion. While I admit that we take in roughly 85% of what we learn and experience through sight. But what about the rest? What about our other senses? And if you can't see very much does that mean you shouldn't bother trying to live life or experience the world?
There's a whole lot more than just how things look, there's smell, touch, and taste at the least and while I hope he isn't tasting any of the zoo animals I think he still deserves the experience. Also there is the fact that it is a lot harder for a visually impaired child to really understand what an animal is. You might show a sighted baby pictures of a cat, and their stuffed cat, and then they can see that that is what a cat is, and they see a real cat and understand hey that's the same as that picture and the same as my stuffed animal. A visually impaired baby on the other hand doesn't have much to go on. You put their hand on the stuffed toy and it feels soft, but it doesn't do anything. So as far as he knows a cat is just a ball of soft fur that doesn't move or make noise. The best way for me to show Skyler what a cat is, is to take him to my mom's place get him down on the floor with my cat and have him pet the cat, hear the cat meow, feel and hear it purring. Let him touch the tail and the legs and the whiskers, show him what it means to pet the cat gently. Tell him "This is a kitty Skyler, he's very friendly, he likes you. We have to be very gentle with the kitty." I have done this with him.
So the best way for me to teach him about animals is to take him to the petting zoo portion of the zoo, and let him experience it. Show him what a bunny is, a sheep, a goat, a guinea pig, whatever. Even the pet store is a good idea, he can hear the birds chirping and I think they let you hold some of the animals. Hmm well now I've just given myself a good idea. It looks like it's going to storm again today, but I could always take him to the pet store..
At least something good came of this.