11 hours ago
Friday, January 15, 2010
Mama Bird? Ha! I am a Mama Pterodactyl
First, thanks to all the lurkers who came out of the blog closet yesterday. Nice to meet you! I welcome you to keep commenting and enriching the conversations that go on here. The more perspectives, the better. You can also feel free to come babysit.
And now, I'd like you to meet my alter ego, Mama Pterodactyl.
When I was at the doctor's office with Max the other day, as we left the exam room a mom, dad and toddler were headed our way down the hallway. As they got closer I noticed the mother was blatantly staring at Max, who was wearing a bright green bib and drooling a bit. When we passed each other, she literally swiveled her head so she could keep looking at Max.
"Do you have a problem?!" I snapped, then kept walking as Max darted over to the sticker area to see if there were any purple ones.
I couldn't help it. I get fiercely defensive when I spot people staring even though Max never notices. To be sure, day-glo bibs call attention to Max. I have some bandana-like ones that look cooler, but that morning I'd grabbed the green one.
Still. That staring was maddening.
I know I should work on my reaction, as it's not doing Max any favors to hear me mouthing off. Nor do I want to spread the idea that moms of kids with special needs are angry at the world. It would be more appropriate if I said something like, "It's not polite to stare that way."
But when this happens, I lose it. It gets to me on many levels. It's a reminder that I have a child who is handicapped and not like other kids, and a reminder of how ignorant people can be about people with disabilities. It violates my sense of justice: He is a child, how dare you gape at him like he is a freak in a circus side show! And you are a mother, don't you know better than to stare at a child?! It also hurts to see this leveled at Max, innocent and beautiful as he is.
I feel protective about Sabrina, too. But I feel that much more so about Max, who is not yet able to verbally defend himself. I hope someday he can, should he choose to say something. For now, this Mama Pterodactyl will be there to guard him.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 12:36 AM