Why is everyone always staring at us? This is the question Trinity asks me every time we go out in public with Tiara. Trinity is 10 and at the age where she is noticing everything and everyone around her and is always embarrassed that people stare at us. I always tell her to ignore them but I guess that is hard to do at 10 years old. Today on our way to the dentist we had a heart to heart over the matter as Tiara was at home with her grandma.
I tried to explain that through the years I have grown immune to the staring. When Tiara was little, people usually stared in restaurants because she would scream or act bad. I always had daydreams of walking up to these rude people and saying “hey if you had a 100 seizures a day, you might act bad too.” Of course I never did, I just smiled as they glared or frowned at us. I then even went so far as to make up a flier I could carry with me and pass out to people explaining Tiara’s condition whenever they stared at us. I thought it would raise awareness and teach people that just because a child is acting super inappropriate doesn’t mean they are bad, they may just have an issue. I never did pass out one of the fliers because I didn’t want to give in to the staring and why bother? I then learned that if I focused all my attention on Tiara or my other children I couldn’t see everyone looking at us. So, once I learned this approach I have never turned back.
The weird thing is I know why people stared when she was little. It was because of her behaviors but sometimes I have her out and she is acting great but people are still staring. I mean if you see her hitting, kicking flailing on the ground or chucking stuff at me, I would stare too. But people are staring as we stroll her around the mall and she is acting good. I mean is it the wheelchair? I know we live in Newport Beach, but are we so sheltered in this city people are shocked to see a child in a wheelchair? I hope that isn’t the reason. OK, it could be her hair? Ever since the brain surgery it is really huge like an Afro, but once you stare at her for a second you realize she has some issues and probably can’t fix her own hair. OK, it could be the dancing and singing in the wheelchair, but shouldn’t that make people smile, not frown?
I have to admit I recently stared at an adult with special needs and I told Trinity the story this morning during our drive. About 2 months ago we were at a softball game and a group of special needs adults came walking through the park. One of the girls, who was close to 200 pounds dropped to the ground in a tantrum and started screaming. I couldn’t draw my eyes away, but not because I was judging but so interested in how the caretaker was going to handle the situation. Maybe I could learn a trick or two. The girl then started kicking her caretaker who did just what I do. Back away and wait. After about 8 minutes the girl stood up and hugged everyone around her and the group kept going on their journey. The whole scene warmed my heart. I was so not alone in my journey as I just witnessed someone else go through what I go through everyday. Yes, I was staring but I with compassion and a smile on my face.
On Sunday, I told Trinity that if she couldn’t ignore the starers watch them. Because it is human nature to stare, after a second, some will smile and then direct there attention elsewhere, but some will frown and keep staring intently. The happy people smile at her and the miserable people just keep staring. After lunch at Fashion Island on Sunday, Trinity said to me “Mom, I guess there is a lot of miserable people here, because hardly anyone smiled at her.” ” I know honey, it is sad, so many people just don’t get it and apparently they aren’t happy.” I have no idea if my theory is correct, but it makes sense to me and seems to make Trinity feel better so we are going with it.
So if you see us at the mall or on a walk, smile at us, we don’t want to label you “unhappy”….
Have a great Tuesday!