When my son was younger random people would just approach us and comment about how beautiful he is, how his curls make him cuter, etc. He attracted a lot of people. And we weren’t really surprised, he was a very cute baby.
Now, it’s Isabella’s turn. Random people would just come up to us and comment about how her eyes are bright and beautiful, how her lips are perfect, how her cheeks are so round and chubby that you just want to bite it, how she is so cuddly and squeezable, how she is beautiful and stunning and is no doubt a baby “girl”.
Now this is really nothing unusual. You see a baby, you look.
BUT, something was a little different…. Isabella seems to attract more people than Eloi did. She seem to magnet a lot more “oohhs” and “ahhs”. Could it be that she is that beautiful? Or is it because of something else?
When people do see and talk to her and try to get a smile out of her, they tend to ask this one question “ How old is she?” Now, I always find myself pausing before I answer this question (much like how I somehow try to avoid being asked the question “How is the baby?” or “How are you?”)
In that brief pause, this thought runs through my mind, “Do I tell her how old she really is?”
If I tell her that Isabella’s 6 months old, it will ensue a lot of follow up questions, and those follow up questions also give me a feeling of dread.
Is she a preemie? (No she’s not, she’s full term)
Why is she sooo tiny? (because her size is syndrome related)
Is anything wrong with her? (No! Maybe something is wrong
with you to even ask me that when I DON’T EVEN KNOW YOU!)
I know, I know… most people mean well and they do get curious. Although, I have to admit that I did find myself wondering if the reason behind Isabella attracting extra curiosity is because of her ‘”look”. I did get to wonder if people are just being polite when they say “she’s beautiful” or if they see it. I am not a big fan of people staring.
The mama bear in me feels very defensive and protective of her little cub.
What do I say? Do I shock them with the response ‘Oh, it’s because she has a syndrome.” And walk away leaving them dumbfounded and marinating in their confused thoughts. Should I tell them that she has this rare syndrome and then proceed with a full blown lecture about WHS? If I do explain, will it result in the much needed “education of the public” about children with special needs? Do I print out brochures and flyers and pack them with me in my diaper bag ready to hand-out when the questions come?
Now, my husband tells them how old she really is, and when they ask why she’s small, he tells them,
“Because she just is.”
How he answers them makes perfect sense doesn’t it? I should be able to make myself confidently blurt out the same response… BUT, after his response people stay and look and stare at the baby and then look at us, as if waiting for a follow up, as if waiting for an explanation on why she’s small… they seem to not be content with “because she just is”. We stand there playing the “staring chicken game”…. And when it gets to the point that it becomes awkward, too awkward, they usually just walk away.
That “waiting for further information”, bothers me. I know it shouldn’t, but it does. I hope that eventually it won’t.
And since it bothers me, I tell people that Isabella is younger than she actually is. The other day this scenario happened…
Stranger: Oh, tiny baby! How old is she?
Me: Pause…. She’s 3 months.
Stranger: 3 months? She’s too small for 3 months. (then stared
at me as if waiting for an answer)
Me: Staring…. Just staring… and eventually the stranger just
I realized I can’t pass my daughter for a 3 month old, so I decided to go another month lower and see if that excuse will “fly”. So with the next stranger…
Stranger: Oh, cute baby! How old is she?
Me: Pause…. She’s 2 months.
Stranger: Smiles, stroked the baby's head a little and then
No awkwardness, no staring, no need to be defensive. There is this relief that that response worked out, HOWEVER, there is also this guilty lying feeling that sits in the pit of my stomach. And this tells me that what I’m doing is not quite right. Why else will my conscience bother me, right?
But, how long I can keep this up? Should I continue on with this “lie” (a white lie)? Should I come up with a better and more honest response that will not ensue such awkwardness, that won’t ensue that feeling that I need to explain?
I know, I know, I don’t really owe anybody, especially strangers an explanation, but, What do I say?