Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tact & What's Left Unsaid

The other day we went to a restaurant, and as I was sitting there with Skyler a man from a table nearby commented to his wife or possibly whoever was around that "the baby's eyes are crossing from trying to look at his soother." Now it wasn't said in a rude or ill-mannered way. And yet, here I sat debating internally, do I say yes his eyes are crossed because he is legally blind and looking at things tires out his eyes very quickly, or do I just stare at my baby and pretend like I never heard the comment? I chose the latter. I'm not sure why, probably because it's much more work to explain to someone who may or may not care about why my baby is cross-eyed. It was just a random comment made by a random stranger who I will likely never see again in my life, but I suppose it's part of something bigger in my life.

I have to start taking stock of how I want to respond to the comments, it seems like such a trivial thing, but it isn't. It affects my life, my family, and especially my son. Had the man specifically asked me about his eyes I would have been completely honest and followed the conversation through for as long as he held interest. I don't believe there is anything to hide. Yes my son is blind, he was born that way, he is a happy baby. I'm not sorry about it or for it, and neither is he. I think the hard part is making others understand that. They can't see past the "OMG THAT KID IS DIFFERENT THAN MOST OF US!! HOW HORRIBLY SAD!!" point of view. Which honestly I think is the sad thing. Why can't people open their eyes and see that we don't all have to experience the world in the exact same way?

I know I've said all this before. It's just I guess I have to internalize how to deal with the random comments. I want to say something to these people, but I don't know how or if it's worth it. It would be easy if people just talked to me directly and asked about his eyes. It's the commenting to other people thing that I don't know how to respond to. Or if the man had been rude about it I would have cut in and said something, that I know for sure. I guess if it's a harmless remark to someone else I can let it go.. I don't know. This is just as troubling to me as "Is this your first?" How do I answer that? First child yes, first pregnancy no. I usually just nod my head when they ask if he's my first because I don't know how to respond.

Oh and on that note, last weekend at the in-laws we were watching some stupid show on TLC where women give birth and didn't even know they were pregnant or something. We were discussing how not every woman has the same symptoms, and I said "Yeah I never had morning sickness with Skyler." and of course SIL says (sarcastically) "Like you did with your other kid??" Ha ha ha so funny. She doesn't know we lost our first, but it cut deep nonetheless and I had to hold back the tears. I wanted to say yes I did have morning sickness with Sophie, I couldn't even look at eggs or red meat without feeling queasy and running for the bathroom. But I didn't, I couldn't because that family is not a very compassionate one. They would make jokes or blame me and C for losing the miscarriage. So I just kept my mouth shut.

I suppose I should be fair and mention that they have been getting much better, they are trying hard to be nice and to impress us so we will bring Skyler over to visit them. I appreciate their effort. I mean they still insult each other constantly and act like jerks most of the time but it's not as bad as it has been in the past. So yay for improvements no matter how small.

Oh and Smolder got her apartment today! Yay! So excited for her.

So I'd like to leave you with a question: How do you deal with the comments that make you uneasy or the questions that you're not sure how to answer?

4 comments:

Stacie said...

I struggle with how to respond to people about my son, too. I haven't come up with a clear resolution yet, either. I tend to address comments and explain way too much which leaves me feeling like I have to make things better for everyone else. Who the F cares about everyone else's opinions? I sure don't, but I still explain.

Sigh.

Hugs to you. Comments like that sting.

Stacie said...

I am the type that "lets things go", unless I get mad enough to say something. Sounds like in your case, the man didn't intend for you to hear the comment he made. But still, the fact is, you DID hear him.

As far as C's family...Wow, I don't know how either of you manage to be around any of them. His sister sounds like a piece of work for lack of a better term.

Karen said...

I respond, but in a short and sweet sort of way. When my oldest was all bandaged up from his eye surgery, I'd just say, "He has some vision problems, but he's getting better and we're happy about that." I'm much the same way when my kids (or kids playing nearby) make comments about someone's skin color. I just matter of factly say, "Yes. Hasn't she got lovely brown skin. Yours is pretty, too." Or if the comment is about someone in a wheelchair I'd say, "Isn't it great that someone invented wheelchairs for people who have trouble walking. Now that man doesn't have to stay home. He can go to restaurants and museams and all kinds of places."

For me, the key is to keep it short, honest, and focused on the positive. Maybe, "Oh my son has some vision problems so he sometimes crosses his eyes. But he's making lots of progress and really enjoys exploring new places." It doesn't exactly invite questions, but neither does it cut off someone who has an honest interest.

Trish said...

It really depends on the time, place and my mood.

We've gotten lots of comments on Robbie's size forever.
Sometimes I just say "yep, he's a peanut" other times I say "yeah, he was 3 months premature and has lots of stomach issues so he doesn't eat much."
It really just depends how the person catches me.