“Don’t stare, honey.” “Sssshh!” “Let’s not be rude.” These are all comments that I can expect to overhear on an average day when we are out with Sophie. Take today for example – we were out grocery shopping and Sophie was sitting in the front of the cart eating Cheerios, smiling, and blowing raspberries. A little girl across the aisle noticed her and said what a cute baby she is. Sophie started waving as the little girl got closer and passed by, but then the girl noticed her CIs. “Mom, what is on her head?” “I don’t know, sweetie. Please don’t stare, though.”
How am I supposed to handle situations like this? It doesn’t necessarily bother me, but I am just uncertain about how to go about it. The truth is, I have to set a good example for Sophie. I have to teach her how to deal with these situations. Although she is still very young, it won’t be long until she will start to notice the stares and whispers. Lowering my head and pretending not to notice will not teach her to have dignity and grace. I have to show her that she has nothing to be ashamed of and that she needs to be proud of who she is. How do I do that? It’s hard enough sometimes to be a good parent and always do what is best for her. I worry about doing everything right to begin with and now I have this extra worry, an additional parental duty. Honestly, I understand that most people do not even know what a CI is and have never been exposed to this technology. I would love to enlighten them and explain what is on Sophie’s head and how everything works. But am I supposed to run them down and say, “I’m sorry, but I saw you staring at my daughter and whispering about what is on her head…”? Very awkward, right? I guess it may not be ideal, but it is definitely necessary.
I also have another idea of how to handle these situations, thanks to Lucas' Mommy! She created a card to hand out to people when they notice hers son's CIs. I've comtemplated creating some for Sophie, kind-of like this. I think handing out these cards when I notice people staring and whispering will be less awkward than me confronting them. ;) We'll see, I guess.
The thing is, even if I am successful and able to teach Sophie to have pride in her CIs, the thought of her being out in the world without my protection makes me cringe. Can I always be there, right at her side? Ready to fight away the rude comments, stares, and whispers? No, I can’t. And I know by the time Sophie reaches that age, she probably won’t want me to be there anyway. I will just have to do the best I can to make sure she is equipped with the tools needed to handle the ups and downs of life. Like any other mom has to do, just with an extra responsibility.