Teaching Disability Studies to a 3-Year-Old

“Momma! These glasses are broken.” The three-year-old is trying to unfurl those black plastic eye-doctor sunglasses and spread them across her face.


Three-year-old girl in purple sparkly dress and pink butterfly wings, holding a wooden wand and wearing those eye-doctor sunglasses.

“No, they aren’t,” my husband says. He wore them home from his appointment the other day after his pupil dilation.

“But look,” she says. “They’re broken.” She’s walking around the living room, wearing a purple sparkle dress, pink wings, and the black sunglasses. My husband and I are eating enchiladas in the dining room.

“No,” I say. “They just don’t have any arms. See these?” I point to the glasses on my face. “These bars on glasses, these are called the arms.” She wanders into the dining room to have a look. “Those sunglasses don’t have arms. Like how some people don’t have arms. Those sunglasses don’t.”

“I think they’re broken,” she says again, allowing the black plastic to stay around her face.

“They’re not,” I say. “See how they work just fine without arms.”


Blurry profile shot of three-year-old. You can see her pink wings behind her, her brown wavy hair, and her black, armless, plastic sunglasses wrapping around her face.

“I think someone needs to fix them,” she says.

“Nope,” my husband says.

“Nobody needs to fix them,” I say. “They’re fine just as they are.”


Fiona, her sunglasses-wearing sister, and me. Selfie style.


2 thoughts on “Teaching Disability Studies to a 3-Year-Old

  1. Hi, I stumbled across your blog when someone on my Facebook shared your “Superbaby” essay. I’m coming from the other side -an adult who has become disabled. But we, too, panic, retrace our steps. How did this happen? What can I do RIGHT NOW to fix it? Your article really spoke to me about the pressures we all have to be perfect. I wish you and your lovely family all the best.

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