Staring is an issue my family will forever learn to deal with… I used to have a really hard time with it. When Jordan was a baby, I’d look for people staring. Like I was a glutton for punishment. At some point I realized I was focusing on others and not on my family. No, I’m not ignoring what’s happening around me. I’m just not encouraging the drama. I also think it’s more important to focus on my family than worry about the general public.
But I keep thinking about the staring.
I was talking to one of the grad students about our life with Jordan. In so many ways it’s just like having another kid… But when you think about it, we’re different people now. We’re different because we aren’t able to just pass by in the crowd. I used to be very jealous of families who have kids without any obvious differences. The comfort of just being a family without staring is a gift that you don’t realize you have until you lose it. Then I felt bad for even thinking about those stares because I’m not the one who really will have these stares for the rest of my life. It’s Jordan who will have it forever.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to think of constructive ways to deal with staring. I’m offering kids the chance to ask questions when I see them whispering. I look people head on when I see them stare. If there are any inquisitive looks, I offer the person a chance to ask. It’s the kids who don’t know when to stop staring. I have a hard time. It’s the grown up who does a double, triple take without saying something. I have a hard time.
But then I realized I have a staring problem too. Any time I walk by a person with any type of limb difference, I stare just a little too long because I feel connected to this person. BUT then I don’t want to interrupt their day just because I want to say: “Hey! I have a little girl who belongs to your world! Can I be your friend?” A limb difference shouldn’t be a person’s identity. But yet, I want to identify with people who live in my town just because of their differences. Isn’t it strange? No one writes a book on how to be a parent of a child with a “difference.” I just want to do my best. I also hope I can help other parents so we can lean on each other… And make sure our kids can lean on each other.