Hi Inevitable, nice to meet you. My name is Kristin.
I knew this day would come. It was inevitable, after all.
A stranger making a miserable failure of an attempt to whisper "That baby has a HUGE head".
Ok ma’am – first off, we are sitting less than 2 feet in front of you. Maybe if your own head was a little bigger you would have the common sense to realize how sound travels in a very quiet room.
Second off, what’s your point? Is my child’s head larger than average? Well since you are so intrigued, no. It isn’t. His head is completely average sized. Is his body smaller than average, thereby making his head appear large? Yes. Is that any of your business, or is it gossip worthy enough for you to feel the need to point it out in a shameful whisper to your friend, No. Did you know that it was rude to comment on someone’s physical appearance like that, even a baby’s? Yes, you did, or you wouldn’t have bothered to whisper.
Ok, mama vent over – all the things I wish I could have said to her are out there for all to hear. But the reality is that I knew this day was coming, and I know it is only the beginning. And honestly – it did not break my heart. And as I spent the entire drive home thinking about it, and trying to come to terms with how it truly made me feel, I realized that it didn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it would. I didn’t go home crying, like I always assumed I would. And the only reason I can think for that is because I’m way too busy being so incredibly proud of Asher for exactly who he is, body proportions and all, to be upset when rude and ignorant people feel the need to comment or point.
That being said – I am not so naive to think it will not hurt Asher’s feelings one day when he realizes people are pointing and staring at him because he is "different". He will come home crying because people stare, point, laugh. He will be upset because kids his age call him a baby. And as much as I want him to understand how incredibly special he is – and for him to be proud of that – I know that there will be long days ahead of us when he doesn’t want to be "special" – when he wants to be just like everyone else. And THAT, will break my mama heart to pieces.
Any parent knows that the one thing they want more than anything else in the world is the ability to prevent their child from being hurt. We make them buckle up, we buy the safest carseat, we make them wear a helmet riding their bike, we baby proof the house, we set rules, we set curfews, we make them eat their vegetables. We do all of this try to keep them healthy, to try to keep them safe, and to try to keep them from being hurt. We know our kids will get hurt, they will fall, they will scrape their knees, they may break their arm, they will get sick, and they probably won’t eat their vegetables. But we do everything that we have control over to keep them happy, healthy, and out of harm’s way.
But what about the things we don’t have any control over? Namely – other people.
I can’t force everyone in the world to be nice. To not point, not stare, not whisper, not call my child names. Oh, but if I could… I can’t force all of the kids Asher will interact with to be mature beyond their years – to be kind, to treat him as an equal, to care only about who he is, not a disorder he merely has. After all, it is their parents that are sitting in the room with me commenting on how large his head is – so why would their children realize that is wrong?
I can certainly hope that our society is becoming more accepting of differences. That things as simple as Gerber selecting the first baby with Down Syndrome as the Gerber Baby for 2018, will help "normalize" differences. That the world will finally come to terms with the fact that different does not mean weird, it does not mean bad, it does not mean funny. Not common, but perfectly normal. That people come in all shapes, all sizes, all different types of genetic sequences.
But will that worldwide realization occur sometime in the next 5 years by the time Asher starts Kindergarten? I’m guessing most likely not. So until then, I will smother my child with love and support – and ask the same from all of our family and friends. I will focus on who he is, not what he has, and I will encourage him to do the same. Dwarfism will never be the elephant in the room in our house – he will always know that he has dwarfism, and what that means. But he will know that means his bones grow differently – and that is it. Dwarfism will be part of his life, but it will not define who he is.
So to the lady in that quiet room – know this: Asher is SO. MUCH. MORE. than "a baby with a huge head".