Monday, August 24, 2015
When people stare at your child
We walked into the sushi restaurant at around 5:00 p.m. We like to get to dinner before the crowds descend because it's more chill for Max. A group of waiters stood in the center of the room. I noticed one of them staring at Max. Blatantly. Her eyes followed him as he ambled to the sushi bar. She said something in Japanese to the other staffers and literally cocked her head at him. She didn't notice me watching her.
I turned on my heels and walked toward them, out of Max's earshot. "Is there a reason you're staring at my son?" I asked her, straightforwardly.
She didn't say a word. Nobody did. They just kind of stood there, awkwardly.
I returned to Max, Dave and Sabrina and we had a good, uneventful meal.
Perhaps, you say, she was thinking he was handsome. Maybe she thought he looked familiar.
No, I say. She was doing that stare-glare thing. It wasn't a kind, friendly or even curious look—those, I understand. It was a "What is up with him?" look.
Oh, how I'm glad Max still doesn't notice. Oh, how I wish I was oblivious too. Oh, how I wish I could stop caring. But I can't.
Sometimes, depending on the situation, I can get a conversation going. Like if we're at a park and another parent is looking at Max, I can just say "Hi" or "Hey" or "Some days, I can't believe how fast he's growing up!" and maybe they just say "Hi" back and stop staring or maybe it leads to a discussion about disabilities.
But when someone's so obviously gaping or gawking, when we're paying to eat out and looking to enjoy an evening together like any other family, I'm going to call someone on the staring. It's rude and unsettling, it makes my heart ache for Max, and it's nothing we should have to contend with.
One day, hopefully, Max can stand up for himself. For now, though, I'm there for him.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:37 AM