I don’t think they are new. These looks. They have been poking at the edges of my consciousness for a few months now. Today, though, I couldn’t ignore them.
Kiran is different. No one can deny that. He will be 2 1/2 years old at the end of April. And he is growing so well, so he physically looks like an almost-2 1/2 year old. And the people around us, the people orbiting this world-of-difference we live inside, have started to notice.
I took Kiran to library story time this morning. We sat front and center (it’s the eager student in me). I helped him stand and participate in the songs and movements that were being done. He started singing along during some of the songs.
And I noticed the curious looks of the other kids. Those I have seen before, and they don’t bother me. Like I have said, kids are way smarter than most adults give them credit for…and I think curiosity of difference is an important stepping stone out of ignorance and into understanding.
But there was one woman…my assumption is she was the grandma of the little boy, likely around Kiran’s age, maybe half a year older…that kept blatantly looking at us. And it was like I could see the thoughts in her head through the look on her face: She was trying to figure out “what is wrong” with Kiran. It was like curiosity mixed with something else…disdain? Maybe not quite. Fear? I bet there is some of that, and that makes sense to me (I wasn’t always the mom of a special little boy, after all). Whatever it was, it rubbed me the wrong way. I kinda just kept looking back at her and giving her a smile.
From my perspective, I wish it wasn’t so taboo in our society to simply walk up to someone and ask questions. I welcome ANY chance to talk about Kiran and educate people about CHD and other differences. It’s the most passionate topic of my entire life.
But I also worry about this next phase of life we are moving quickly into. Kiran IS different. And he is now at an age where the differences are far more noticeable than they once were. Hell, even my sugarist the other day thought he was just over one year old, and why wouldn’t she? These things hurt my heart, but I understand them.
I know I will learn how to be a different sort of advocate for Kiran, but right now, this whole thing intimidates me. I just keep reminding myself that hospitals and medical professionals used to intimidate me too, and now I advocate with ease and determination in those settings.
I wish I could blaze an easier path for him to walk down – for us all to walk down beside him – I wish so many things.
But time keeps moving, and things keep changing. And this fall, this little boy will start preschool. And I have to help give him the tools – and to give his fellow classmates and their parents the tools – to navigate the path we are on.
We live inside a world of difference. For a person who has always felt most comfortable being a wallflower…this, too, will grow me.