10.26.2012

phone home.

My father is a Starbucks regular, stopping in each morning at the same time (eight o'clock on the dot) for his grande bold. Since the Starbucks is in between my house and my parent's house, I've always met my dad there on weekends or weekdays when we can get our act together and out of the house on time. Yesterday morning was one of those days where we did make it out of the house on time to meet my dad for coffee and so we stood in the line, waiting for our drinks. Ethan was happily sucking down a pouch of organic fruit puree and my dad had ventured off to put cream in his coffee. A woman in a tennis skirt and matching visor nudged me. I turned around, half expecting her to ask me for a straw or something like that. Instead she asked me if there was something wrong with Ethan. Yes. Just like that: "is there something wrong with him?"

I was dumbfounded. I always thought I knew the way it felt to be dumbfounded but now I really do. I was unable to speak, to say anything, to do anything but give her the side-eye and shake my head no. She continued on to tell me that his eyes were "normal sized" and the rest of him was "miniature," that there was "definitely something wrong with him," that he was a "miniature person," that if he was her child she'd be "afraid she'd step on him," that she couldn't get over how "tiny and miniature" he was. My mind was jumbled. "He's 16 months old," I muttered, slightly defensively. "Oh, that's even WORSE! I assumed he was half that." I stared at my child, shoved into his 2T clothing and sucking down that applesauce. He met my glance and smiled, letting me know he was ever so much enjoying that pouch. I looked at the floor. She didn't seem to like silence, so she continued on. "He's definitely not going to be any taller than 4 feet tall, if that. He's miniature." My face felt hot and I felt awkward. "Well, he's just about in the 70th percentile for height so I doubt that." I tried to sound snappy. I'm sure I didn't. "Oh, that's not right," she insisted, "he's definitely miniature. Look how big his eyes are, like normal, and then the rest of him is miniature. He'll never reach 4 feet."

I saw the barista putting the lid onto my drink. Why was it taking so long? What was this lady's problem? Why am I not saying anything? Just as my drink was about there, on the platform, the woman left me with the rancid icing on the rotten, spoiled, miserable cake: "You know who he looks like? E.T."

Let it sink in.

E.T.

At first I wasn't even mad. I was freaked out and confused by this stranger's incredible lack of tact. I was horrified that she would say these things to someone about their child and devastated in thinking she'd say something similar to someone who truly had a child with some kind of handicap. I was sad that this woman could value her own shallow life more than the feelings of a child, of that child's parent, or of the handicap said child had. I justified it, even: my child has always been at the top of the percentile charts. He's almost the 70th percentile in height. He's wearing a size 2T and a size 6 shoe. She was obviously bonkers, I thought, as I invalidated all of her points. Then I realized it didn't matter how big Ethan really was or how tall or what size shoe he wore. What if he truly was small, what if he truly was short? Was that a reason to liken him to E.T., to comment on his size, to ask a parent if something was wrong with their child? My heart hurt. After all, I'm only five feet tall. I know about being "Little Lindsay."

Then I became mostly mad that I didn't say anything to her. Not only in defense of my beautiful child but in defense of all children. Children who will receive enough bullying and isolation over their years from their peers without having to deal with it from adults in line at Starbucks.

It wasn't until I was changing Ethan's diaper last night, listening to him laugh and watching his bright-eyed smile that my heart broke. We changed him into his spaceman pajamas and he ran down the hall squealing with laughter, picking up a copy of On The Night You Were Born from the living room rug and running it over to me to read. He sat on my lap and I smelled his hair, chamomile and citrus, and I had to hold back my tears. One day someone would hurt him. One day someone would carelessly take the sweet gap-toothed smile from his face and hurt his heart. The thought was too much to bear. It's still too much to bear. One day he'll cry and he'll hurt because someone was careless with their words and I don't think I'm ready to face that yet. I'm not sure I ever will be.

25 comments:

  1. Omg I'm so sorry you encountered her. I'd be sooooo mad. Your son is about one of the cutest little boy I've seen. He is perfectly proportioned. She was so out of her place, I am steaming over here. I want to hunt her down and beat her up for saying such nasty things. Who cares if he's going to be "miniature" anyway???? Ughhhh people!!!!

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    1. Thank you!

      And, yes, EXACTLY. Who cares about any of that? The real tragedy is that some adult feels it's her place to belittle a toddler in a Starbucks line. :(

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  2. You won't. I'm that mom that is super confident when her children say someone is being mean to them and tell them that person is wrong and that their Mommy and Daddy must not have taught them a good way to handle whatever the situation was. I still cry when they're done looking- and there are still those times when I'm choking back tears as they tell me something someone did or said to them. We're only at 5 years, but I'm going to go ahead and say it keeps getting harder the older they get.

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    1. Ugh, I hate it. :( I always anticipated CHILDREN being mean to other children, but adults? Random adults to little toddlers in a Starbucks line? Ridiculous. :(

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    2. And totally to your point of WHAT IF HE DID LOOK LIKE ET? Which is what really gets to me which kids picking on kids in the case of Richie- he IS small compared to other boys his age right now, and he has told me several times that kids will say, "Na na na na na you're too small!" They way he tells me it makes him feel kills me- he says he thinks the kids don't think he's old enough or big enough to be in Kindergarten. I say, "Hey, buddy. You know you're 5 years old, right? And you know you're old enough and big enough to be in Kindergarten. So if anyone says you're not, you just say 'SO WHAT.'" Then he gets told by his teacher he's not allowed to say 'so what.'

      And the journey continues..

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  3. What in the heck. What a horrible woman. That is bizarre and cruel.

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    1. Yup, exactly. I can't figure out any other purpose for her words other than to just be horrible and cruel. :(

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  4. Oh wow...This made me want to punch that woman in the face! How dare she!? Unfortunately as parents it is a fact of life that we are going to navigate these situations at some point.

    You should have bitch slapped that woman in front of everyone!

    Anyways...THANK YOU so much for coming over and saying Hi! So nice to "meet" you. I am now following along (twitter/facebook - my GFC broke) with you and can't wait to connect!

    Lanaya
    www.raising-reagan.com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I was just...so...shocked. I mean, I'm terrible at confrontation to begin with, but she truly threw me for a loop. She just KEPT GOING! I'm still dumbfounded!

      Nice to meet you, too! I just followed you back on Facebook as well. :)

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  5. Wtf was that lady's problem!?! How awful! I would not be able to keep my cool. I was thinking about that the other day that at some point someone will hurt lk. It makes me so sad.

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    1. Right? Isn't it something so totally sad to think about? I wish we could put them in bubbles and protect them forever! :(

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  6. WOW. That's all I can say. WHO SAYS THINGS LIKE THAT?????!!!! Honestly I would probably react the same way you did, in absolute shock and not able to say anything. Something is obviously wrong with her if she says stuff like that in public.

    Ethan is a beautiful child and I'm jealous of his gorgeous eyes and lashes!! Don't listen to the crazy lady in Starbucks. :)

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    1. Yeah, exactly. WHO SAYS THINGS LIKE THAT?! And for what purpose? I can never think of things to say on the spot, especially not when this happened. I wish I could pause time for three hours and THEN respond to her! Ugh.

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  7. She probably has the "perfect" children or better yet, no children at all, because I find it hard to believe any good mother could say things so horrible about ANY child!
    My heart hurts for you having to experience that but you and I both know that your beautiful Ethan has absolutely nothing wrong with him at all!

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    1. Oh, yes, she did promptly let me know that her five year old is my height (I mean, I am pretty short buuuut I'm skeptical!) and has been walking since he was six months old. Her children were definitely noted as perfect, flawless, TALL beings! Ugh!

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  8. I guess I look like E.T. too then since people always comment on how huge my eyes are and I'm not even 5 feet tall.

    Wtf is wrong with people?

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    1. LOL! Same here. Let's proudly represent our E.T.-ness. Ha!

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  9. Omg, as the mother of a small toddler, I'm so offended. But I probably would have reacted the same way. Wow. There are horrible people out there.

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  10. Oh my word. Some people are just heartless and cruel. I have always had comments about my tiny kids (my 4 year old still wears size 2 and my 6 year old wears size 4 or 5 in small fitting things) but I have never heard anything so horrible said about a child, in front of a child. I too would have been dumbfounded. So sorry that you had to experience this.

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  11. ethan is such a cute little boy and he is normal dont worry about her. its like the saying goes misery loves company

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  12. WOW. My word, that is just unreal!! The nerve of some people!!

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