Monday, June 27, 2011

summer time

Summer time is a mixed bag in our family, for many reasons. Today, one of them came clear again to me.  It is what my friend and I call, short season. Meaning that this is the time when we are all in shorts/skirts etc. That doesn't sound so bad, right? Except when you wear a prosthetic leg.  When you wear shorts it becomes really obvious.

Madeleine usually doesn't notice (or doesn't care) the staring. I do. I notice it big time. Sometimes kids are rude and say weird things (what is that?  What happened to your leg? Why is there a hole in your foot? Do you have to wear that? Is it a cast?) Sometimes they whisper and point. Sometimes they run from her. Yep, it's true. One time a kid told me it was "creepy".

Yesterday we were at a public pool in a different town and this 11-ish year old girl was staring so bad I thought her eyes would pop out. She followed us around the pool. I tried the smiling technique: you catch their eyes, look straight into them and smile really big. That didn't work. Finally she said, "what happened to her foot?"  I explained. Then she asked if she could still swim without a foot. Madeleine demonstrated. Later Madeleine wanted to put her leggie on and see if she could swim in it. The girl came back and asked more questions and when Madeleine showed her the leg she said, (and I quote) "Ew, Oh My God". 

Today my kid rocked greenlake (2.8 miles) on her two wheeler bike. She rode the whole time and rocked it. We finished at the playground and two little girls were whispering and pointing and staring. I was fed up. I looked at the girls and said, "it is impolite to stare, if you are curious you can ask her questions but please don't just stare."  They walked away.

Just venting. Parent, teach your kids that staring is rude. You can be curious and ask questions but please respect peoples' differences.


tmezzy said...

When Matt was little, Matt's mom would get fed up with the rude stares and yell: "Take a picture, it lasts longer!" LOL
People can be SO rude. Shame on their parents for not teaching them to be more polite about their curiosities. People/kids can learn so much from asking simple questions. We always welcome questions about Matt and his wheelchair, but lots of times, the parents punish the kids for even being curious and yank them away like we will bite or something! That is on the parents. Most kids are truly curious, but with parents who do not facilitate GOOD questions and responses, the kids say rude things :( I am so sorry.
Obviously I see it all from a different protective perspective (as a wife to a husband who is "different" and a mom to a kid who has a daddy who is not like all the other daddies. . .) I won't pretend to know how you feel, but I have sympathy. I think we share some common feelings. . .and those feelings get hurt by ignorance and insensitivities of others. Our kids are trying to figure out the world from a different perspective than most kids. So far, Hannah seems unphased by her daddy's wheelchair and still thinks it's cool. . .but I KNOW someday kids will tease her, and I am dreading that day! How the *honk* do we protect our kids from that kind of pain?
Overall, Matt's experiences have made him a STRONG person, and my experiences with Matt have made me a stronger person, as well! I find myself going out of my way to educate others when I can, whereas in the past, I would have preferred to "run and hide" from similar situations. . . It sucks. I am sorry :( But Mad will be SUCH a strong woman! She is already an AMAZING little girl! Just imagine what she will grow up and do in life :) Her mama, daddy, and brother are all by her side. . .but most importantly, she knows how to stand and conquer on her own :)

Kate said...

Can totally identify with your feelings!!! It's helped our kids learn how it feels to be stared when they come across someone who is "different" than them, it's no biggie. As our Chloe gets older (and more self conscious) we are trying to teach her to own it and ROCK IT!!! Some days are harder than others but man, when they hold their head up high in spite of the stares and whispers, gosh it just chokes you up. Hang in there guys!!! We know how it feels in our house, we're rooting for ya.....wish we lived on the same side of the country, our kids would have a blast together, with Logan too!!
~ Kari (through Jenna Powell)

The Turkington Family said...

AMEN TO THAT! My little guy was born without hands or feet...all limbs different lengths too. I totally feel your pain! Today was the worst for me...a young boy, about 7 years old said "That's creepy. That kid is going to give me nightmares!"