3 Best Lessons to End Staring, Seeing How Beauty Lies in Difference
Our life changed for the better the day my daughter was born. It did, however, start with an interesting twist. The moment she was born, they whisked her away, my husband to follow, and I heard “see the slant of her eyes, her chin is back slightly, I cannot confirm, but it looks like Treacher-Collins Syndrome.” I screamed, is she ok??? They finished her routine check and brought her back to me, and at that exact moment, the moment I first held my little girl, I had the feeling she would change the world!
Over her five years, we have learned a great deal about how to raise a child, what TCS (Treacher-Collins Syndrome) is as we had never heard of it before her being born, and that it comes with a lot of medical treatments and follow-ups. We stayed in the NICU for the first week, then immediately at two weeks old, the Doctors’ visits came. All of a sudden, we had a team of 9 Doctors at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto, Canada. On top of that, we also had her pediatrician, OT (Occupational Therapist) and several nurses that came to do weekly checkups. It was a busy time, but with every visit and every appointment, it was clear that above all, just love your daughter and enjoy this time with her and did we ever!
Over the years, along with many more medical appointments and two surgeries, we realized she has a personality, a kind of charisma that pulls you in and empathy that is like no other. The positivity that comes from such a little girl is amazing to me;
She’s just like everyone else with a few beautiful differences.
She was born with facial differences, and although perfect in my eyes, she gets stared at by almost everyone that passes by. Wherever we go, when we walk down the street, are in a mall or the grocery store, even as a newborn, people would stare. Most adults see her beauty and are respectful, even say hi, or they would see me, seeing them and quickly say, “Oh, she’s so cute,” and she is. Or if their stares were intense, I would promptly ask if they have a question. Or if their stare is bad (and it’s often not the case), I stare them down like I’m looking right through them.
BUT, throughout all of this, she never really lets it get to her. She is a strong-willed confident young girl that doesn’t feel she is any different than any other child her age, and she shouldn’t. I’m not sure if she’s still too young or just doesn’t care, or if I’ve shielded her from it, but it gets to me. We are curious by nature, children especially, and that is very much ok; I encourage questions, but when does my daughter get a break from the constant staring?
At what point do we all get a break from it, when does the staring stop?
We took her on her very first vacation this year, and it was the best. We went to the best amusement park in the world and had a fantastic time. Everything was a stage; she waved to all the people as she walked by them and danced to the music playing along the streets. She was having the time of her life, but I was on high alert.
Who did I have to watch?
Who might I have to stare down?
Who do I have to question if they are getting too close?
The answer, almost everyone! Every line up waiting for the amusement ride was the same, a child her age or older would be staring, and she did what we taught her, to introduce herself. It worked every time, and they were instant friends, but I got exhausted and hurt from watching almost every person stare at my daughter. It wasn’t done offensively, disgustedly or harmfully. It was just staring.
The vacation, no different from everyday life, was a constant worry. Would she become sad or self-conscious? Am I protecting her enough or too much? She is my precious child, and I will continue, but when will the world stop staring and realize differences are great? When will my daughter get a chance to walk down the street or stand in line at a ride and just be a child?
I know I’m at fault too, if I see someone with a “difference” I look. But now I try to engage so I can smile and acknowledge that I see the beauty that lies in their difference.
In the world I grew up in, we didn’t know how to handle these situations and didn’t speak about it. Thankfully today, we can take that next important step and talk about it, bring it up, share our thoughts and the best part, speak to the person with the difference as a regular human being. It’s ok to be different; that’s what makes us unique, that’s how we get our superpowers!
So, if you ever see us walking down a street or in a grocery store, be mindful of how you’re looking and remember:
- Smile, that way, it doesn’t look like you’re staring.
- Say hi, we’ll say hi back, we’re so friendly. It’s incredible the power of a simple hi, or introduction; it completely changes the atmosphere for every age, including adults.
- Think, you’re not the first person we have seen today; you’re not the first person who has stared at us. Please look at us and remember we are beautiful and have feelings like you.
Always be you,