Keep Calm and Grin On!
Posted Dec 9, 2014 by Jacquie Robison
Over the course of the last three years, we’ve been on the receiving end of a number of curious glimpses and bewildered looks. It could be a sideways glance from someone tracking our daughter’s progress with her walker — or an overt stare when they caught sight of her with her quad canes. This is all to be expected, as she is a bit of an unusual sight. And, while there were a few pitying sounds and furrowed brows, overwhelmingly, there were smiles and encouragement. I warmly remember the time her efforts elicited a hearty ‘you go, girl!’ which brought on a huge grin and wave from our girl.
Those ‘you can do it’ messages have all been a great testament to the goodness in humanity. I like to think our daughter invites it in some way. She’s always had a little sass as she steps along, and we’ve encouraged her positive attitude by bringing her everywhere we go. On a couple of occasions, she would ask why people were looking at her and I would reply lightly, “they must love your curly hair as much as mom does.” And she would grin up at me.
I’ve spent many sleepless nights thinking about the best way to make sure she has the tools to discuss or deflect the questions and comments she’ll get. To consider how I can do it in a way that grows her confidence and assures her that her ‘normal’ was just as valid as anyone else’s. I realized early on that the real challenge would be to quiet the defensiveness I knew I felt — the desire to protect that risked me lashing out or being mean-spirited. That was not the example I wanted to set for her. Not who I wanted to be for myself.
And, I still remember the details of the first time someone came right out and sneered, “What’s wrong with her?”
We had walked into a tiny boutique and Sofia had only just crossed the threshold with her quad canes when the question reverberated through the little shop.
I smiled brightly and answered, “Well, it’s not her hearing. Excuse us, we’re just taking a look at some things together.”
We stepped away and I took a deep breath to calm myself down. Our girl said, ‘hmmm, that’s funny that she thinks something is wrong with me. I feel great.’ I looked at her and said, “I feel great, too.”
And with that, she grinned up at me.