The Stare

Crystal Mountain pool

We were up skiing at Crystal Mountain, and Wil decided he wanted to go for a swim, so we went down to the pool leaving his dad and his sisters out on the slopes.

In the pool another couple was playing with their four children. The wife and her daughter went to the hot tub, while the dad stayed in the pool playing with his boys. There was an older woman swimming laps, doing the kind of “head up out of the water frog kick” thing. She kept trying to discreetly look over, and the look was always at Wil, not at the dad with his boys. I could read that look on her face, I’ve seen it many times over these last 8 years.

Does he? Does that boy have Down syndrome?

When Wil was a baby, I wavered over and over, when in public, do I tell people? They’d stare just a little bit longer at Wil, and some people would come right out and say it. “Oh, he has Down syndrome doesn’t he?”

On Down syndrome support pages I read the question all the time from new parents, “When we are at the grocery store, and people say something about our baby, do we tell them he has Down syndrome?”

The answer is so simple to me now, but back then, I asked that same question. My answer now is, take it one experience at a time.

If I told myself that answer 8 years ago, I would have freaked out! No, I can’t do that, I need answers!

When our kids are babies, we have so many uncertainties, so many unanswered questions, but being in that place is exactly where we are forced to grow.

Through trial and error, and lots of bumps and bruises, we learn how to trust our intuition. We learn that bumps and bruises aren’t a bad thing, they just teach us to change direction, and try a different tactic. We learn who we are, and how to trust ourselves.

So, now, when I see those people who stare, I don’t immediately jump to conclusions, or take an automated response. I evaluate the moment. That evaluation is based on past experiences, and what I cannot define better than a vibe or feeling I get.

Because, you know, I could have really missed out if I listened to only what others said and ignored my inner feelings. When people stare, I just feel a certain vibe. With the lady at the pool, I felt a vibe where she just wanted to satisfy her curiosity, so she never met my eyes, or glanced my way, so we went on with our business, she with hers, like many strangers occupying the same space. Yet, there have been many occasions in public places where I’ve seen the stare, and I just feel some connection in it, so I look up and smile, and my smile seems to unleash the friendliness in these people, and we make a great connection. Just strangers, who have never met, and I find out that a niece, a nephew, an aunt, or even their child has Down syndrome. One woman told me her son is a young adult now, but Wil looks just like he did, blond hair, and how it is not an easy life, oh, but how very wonderful it is. Just you wait!

I would have missed many of those connections if I had some automated response, or already had my mind set on what staring means.

Sometimes, I think, we don’t have to explain anything, or have it all figured out to an exact science. Sometimes, simply exhibiting a little friendliness can tell us exactly what we need to know.

*You can also view on my website at: http://christieleightaylor.com/the-stare/

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Leigh Longstreth
    Mar 15, 2015 @ 00:27:54

    Love it!!! Also love the picture of Wil. How is the skiiing going! Love, Mom

    Reply

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