Wednesday, July 22 2015
The University of Iowa Hospital is typically a safe place for us. It's a place where we run into a lot of people who are "different." Being there always reminds us of how much worse it could be for us.
We were running a little late for Jax's appointments today, so I was speed walking with the stroller to make it to the eye clinic on time. I got stuck behind a dad holding the hands of his two sons, one on each side of him.
I slowed down and walked behind them for a few seconds because I couldn't get around them. One of the little boys, who was probably 5 or 6 years old, turned around and was staring at Jax sitting in the stroller.
I heard the boy mumble something as he was staring at Jax, but I couldn't quite make out what he said. I believe I heard the words "baby" and "weird." I wasn't 100% sure what I heard and I was in a hurry so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and kept walking.
Then I heard the little boy turn to his dad and say, "Hey daddy, that baby looked really weird." At this point I stopped walking and I quite obviously stared at them to observe the dad's response to his son calling a baby he saw at the hospital weird-looking.
I saw the dad look down at his son and I heard him say, "yep" and they continued walking.
As I said in my earlier post, I'm not angry at the child. He was just a curious little boy who saw something he had never seen before and expressed that he noticed Jax's difference by saying that Jax looked weird.
I was, however, a little pissed off about how the dad handled this situation and if I hadn't been in such a hurry I would have said something to him.
I know we can't be perfect parents all of the time and who knows, maybe the dad had a loved one in the hospital and his mind was wandering at that moment or maybe the kid continuously jabbers and the "yep" was an automatic response to get the kid to shut up.
Regardless of this dad’s situation, it got my blood boiling to hear him not only let his kid get away with saying something like that to a stranger, but he responded in a way that the child could have easily perceived as agreement from his father which is kind of like telling the boy that its okay to say things like that to others.
Witnessing that interaction today just further illustrates that I can do the world a favor by attempting to make parents aware of the importance of using situations like these as a learning tool to teach their kids about empathy and differences.
Parents should also be aware of the fact that, in the eyes of a parent of a child who has a noticeable physical difference, there is a right and wrong way of responding to their own child unintentionally saying something inconsiderate to a stranger.
Maybe some people out there just don't care about how their kids' choice of words effects a total stranger, but just remember, it’s hard to see someone else’s perspective on something like this until the issue becomes a personal one.
I’d hate for anyone to experience something that left their child with a noticeable physical difference that made them look creepy or weird, but if something like that did happen, I can guarantee they would start to care if random strangers let their kids call their baby creepy.
I truly appreciate everyone out there who shared, liked, or commented on my last post. It was totally worth writing if even just one person learned something from it and had a conversation with their kids on this topic.
I encourage everyone to keep sharing! Who knows, maybe it could be beneficial to someone close to you someday.