Staring

by Jen Lee Reeves on November 19, 2007 · 8 comments

in Holiday07,November07,Stares,Thanksgiving

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**Note: I’ve spent a few days on this post. So pardon the slight rambling**

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.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 20, 2007 at 7:46 pm

Hi,

My name is Michelle. My daughter was born like Jordan and I found your blog. I have been following it lately and, like you, want to know people understand what we go through as parents with kids like your Jordan and my Annabelle. I’d like to chat with you via e-mail if you are up for it.

Jordan is a beautiful little girl. As she grows, people will stare not because she is different, but because she is remarkable. Kids like her shine bright, and people are bound to notice.

NerdyMom November 20, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Michelle, I’d love to chat. Feel free to email me: laemom@gmail.com.

I’d love to talk anytime! This isn’t an email I use often, but I promise to check it as often as possible to catch up with you.

Student of Life November 21, 2007 at 10:48 am

So, maybe you should write the book. You’ve already given yourself a good start here with your blog. Every step you’ve taken is well-documented. Maybe you can use your gift as a communicator to educate others. That would be a great contribution, I think, and it would show Jordan that you feel very passionately about her, her difference, and how others view that difference.

NerdyMom November 21, 2007 at 12:14 pm

Hmmmm. I will give that some thought. About a month after Jordan was born, one of my former anchors said she was certain I’d write a book. I guess you both are right. I could give it a try.

april. May 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm

so glad you linked me to this older post of yours, Jen. it’s a tricky balance, I’m learning. my son is not his limb differences. and yet, that’s the first thing people might notice about him. It’s good for me to see how others have dealt with the same feelings I experience. . .

Jen Lee Reeves May 7, 2012 at 9:22 pm

April – Please know that I am happy to support you along the way if I can! (And while I try to figure it out as well.)

Angel's mom September 10, 2014 at 11:06 pm

I SO understand about feeling compelled to run up to an limb different person and declare that you are family! I also refrain because, as you said, why should having a limb difference mean a person doesn’t mind being accosted by strangers… and yet there is a kinship of sorts, because we understand a unique side of life– the “one of these things is not like the others” side. My daughter has herself spotted other amputees and happily declared “look mom, he has a nubbie too!” I feel as though I want to exchange numbers with any family of a limb different child in my area, since there are so few!

Jen Lee Reeves September 11, 2014 at 6:42 am

Ask any parent of a limb different kid in my area and they’ll tell you how I walked right up to them and gave them my contact information. Connecting with other families is really important to me. It may seem strange but I’m glad I did it.

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