My older three girls were at school. I was at Target with Maura and Meagan to pick up some necessities and get a birthday gift for a friend's son. Being that I have 5 girls, standing in the boy section of the toy aisles is pretty fun - looking at all the fun toys, seeing ones I played with when I was younger with my brother, and just looking at new things besides princesses and Barbies. I had narrowed down the gift to two items, and was standing there going back and forth in my mind. We were towards the end of the aisle. Maura was standing with me, and Meagan was facing outward in her stroller.
A woman walked by the end of the aisle with her cart. She had a little girl about 4 years old sitting in the front of the cart. The woman glanced down the aisle. Immediately following her quick glance, she looked back again and slowed down, staring down at Meagan. She then picked up her pace and continued walking. I honestly didn't think much of it. Ever since we've been letting Meagan "stretch out" in her new stroller when we go out, I have noticed more "double takes" and more stares as we walk through stores or down aisles. I see her everyday, and see nothing different, but I know that her face is shaped differently, and that overall her appearance is not that of a "typical" 1 year old. So I get that 'human nature' takes over at times and we give that second look at something that doesn't quite look as we expected it. OK, that's fine.
What happened next is what prompted this post. The woman came back by us, again, going the other direction. This time, she came to the same spot in front of Meagan's stroller and stopped. She very blatantly STARED down at Meagan. She then looked up at me after several seconds and very "matter of factly" said "Will she ever look normal?"
The question caught me completely off guard. I've had people ask "What's wrong with her" or "Why doesn't she sit up on her own or crawl ..etc.." and I honestly don't mind answering those questions. I can tell they are asked out of genuine curiosity, and I feel it's my opportunity to spread awareness about Hydrocephalus and acceptance of special needs children. But this woman's actions and tone were different. We hadn't been having a conversation about Meagan. Nothing.
The first things that ran through my mind after the shock were several inappropriate words. Most that shouldn't be said out loud. Ever. My second waves of thought were snippy replies, returning a really stinging personal insult to the woman. But then I just blurted out "So, will you ever have manners?"
I honestly couldn't believe that is what had come out of my mouth, but I was satisfied. I believe it was blunt enough to make the point, but not quite to her level where I would have lowered myself to personal insults. I think the comment back to her was appropriate, as it addressed the very reason I was so shocked by her question - she had no manners.
The comment didn't really "bother" me the rest of the day, but, it did make me start to realize I may have a lot more of these moments come up, especially as Meagan enters her second year. She is going to be Meagan, which will be a lot different than the typical toddler. And many more people will probably say many more things; some innocent, and some not, like the woman today.
I started to think about a 'normal appearance.' What exactly is that? Even my 4 older girls look nothing like each other. One has crooked teeth. One has such big beautiful eyebrows, they meet together in the middle. One has hair that is so brittle, it breaks off and doesn't grow. One is missing a tooth she knocked out as a toddler. None of their appearances are the same, and none are "normal." They are each their own - each appearance tells their personal story, and I cannot imagine them looking any other way. The same goes for Meagan. She looks how she is supposed to look. It is her story. It is her own.
We all have our flaws. And we are all human. We tend to naturally stare or look at people or things that look a little different to us based on our own personal experiences and perspectives. Curiosity is ok. It is healthy, because it allows us to learn about new things and new people. But we also need to realize that ultimately, God makes all of us. He makes all of us exactly as we are supposed to be. If Meagan was supposed to look differently, God would have made her differently. But He didn't. Meagan is the perfect image of God as He pictured it to be. And I'm ok with that.