Every summer I’m reminded that Olivia’s “different”. During the school year, she’s surrounded by kids who know her and love her and teachers who feel the same. No one thinks of her as “different”; they just think of her as Olivia.

Then summer comes and it’s a big slap in the face. We go to the library, the zoo, the pool and baseball games. People stare. I like to think they’re staring because they can’t believe how beautiful she is; they can’t stop staring at her gorgeous, melted chocolate brown hair, her beautiful brown eyes, her perfect sprinkling of freckles across her pert little nose. But I can tell that’s not why. They’re staring at the way she holds her hands up while she walks; that she walks “funny”; that she wears a life jacket suit; the way she flaps her arms and screams when she’s excited; that she sounds different than they do.

They may not be staring to be mean, they’re probably just curious. But as a mother, it’s so hard to have people stare because you know why they’re staring.

But this summer, I’ve been trying something new. When I notice someone staring or pointing, I look at Olivia. I look at her and she’s completely oblivious. She’s swimming with a giant smile on her face; she’s looking at the animals at the zoo and trying to get my attention to tell me something cool; she’s cheering for her brother at baseball with utter abandon. So I look at her instead of trying to stare down the child that is staring at mine. Because if Olivia doesn’t care or notice, why should I? If she’s happy, I’m happy.

This summer we’re going to scream, flap, walk the way we want and hold our heads high. Stare all you want. We won’t bother to notice.


11 responses to “Staring

  1. Perfect!! I have found that this is the best way to handle stares. I just focus on her, and how happy she is. She is oblivious, and so am I.

  2. That’s a great philosophy. When my brother was little he was very sick and had a G-tube at one time, and then a J-tube. When he had the J-tube and he would see kids stare he would look at them and tell them what was wrong with him. Usually they were just curious. Now, once he was a little older and people saw his crossroad of scares on his belly, he told them that he was actually an adult and that he had been to the Gulf War and had been hit in the stomach, and that his legs had been shot off and that was why he was so short. It probably wasn’t the best answer, but it was his answer and his choice so we went with it.

  3. I think this is a better option than punching them in the face which is what I’d want to do. I’m glad you are a better person than I am 🙂 I’ve only had a little experience with this and dred the day when it happens. How does Gabe handle it? I worry more about Rex than anything.

  4. That is an awesome way to handle it. I know I’m not in the same boat as you, but I have caught myself telling my girls not to do certain things because people will stare. I always want to kick myself after the words leave my mouth because they always ask, why would people stare? Right now they don’t care what other people think and I shouldn’t either.

    If I saw Olivia at the pool, I would be staring at her beauty and zest for life. Perhaps this is what all of those other people see, too.

  5. Like Mother like Daughter — “If she’s happy, I’m happy, Perfect life lesson.

  6. I love your attitude. You are right – if she’s happy, nothing else matters.

  7. Sometimes, though, I’m on the other end. I stare. I stare to see what other mothers do when they child has special needs. I stare to see what equipment that child has, or what interesting inventions the mom has come up with to deal with uncommon issues like drooling. I stare and I smile. So, when someone stares in my direction, I smile at them. I think they must be looking at all of MY crazy contraptions and inventions and learning from them.

    But, I know exactly what you mean, and how you feel and looking at life through Olivia’s eyes is the right way to go about it. I will keep that in mind when a stare in our direction gets to me on a particular day.

  8. You always teach me something, Elastamom. I worry too much about what other people think and see. It’s time to stop noticing!

  9. You know, she can teach us all something. I wish more than anything that I could just not care and always be happy. She is one lucky girl!!!

  10. I don’t like this 😦 I mean it is just that right now people are always staring at my Katie and smiling and saying how cute she is…but I know one day it will be staring at what is different. I hope I can have your thoughts and not act out on tell those staring people to go jump off a cliff!

  11. We should all learn that lesson from Olivia.

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