Tuesday, January 1, 2008
By now I should be immune to the stares when Ashley and I are out in public. Ashley's left eye is very, very small and is a strange, cloudy green color. When I first adopted her, I would get upset when people stared at her. Sometimes people would even ask what was wrong with her, and that would make me even angrier. But, over the last 11 years, I have learned to make the best of those situations by explaining how Ashley was just like everyone else except for a few vision and hearing problems. I tried to view each question as an educational opportunity, a way to help people accept Ashley. I wasn't always successful, but there were times I was. But the staring still bothers me, especially the staring without any questions asked.
Yesterday, all the kids, Amy and I had lunch at a local restaurant. Ashley loves to go out to eat, and since our winter vacation was drawing to a close, we decided to celebrate. As we entered the restaurant, we were ushered to a large booth that was connected to another large booth. There was a short panel between the two booths, but it didn't afford much privacy. From the moment we arrived at the booth, an older woman in the adjoining booth stared unabashedly at Ashley. This older woman was having lunch with an equally-aged friend and two children who appeared to be someone's grandchildren. I could almost read the thought bubble over the women's heads - "I'm so glad my grandchildren aren't like that."
Sometimes I will force the issue and ask the staring person if they have any questions I can answer. That will usually stop the staring or open a positive dialogue. But I decided not to do that this time. I wanted our lunch to be a family affair without the intrusion of others. But I don'tknow if that was the right decision because I was uncomfortable during the entire lunch.
I tried my best to make the lunch a positive experience for my family. The wait staff person helped tremendously by assisting with all the special food requests for Ashley. And, it was so noisy in the restaurant that Ashley's happy noises didn't bother anyone. However, I hardly remember what I ate because I was so obsessed with the staring woman.
Why do I still let people's staring get to me? Shouldn't I have been able to move past all that by now? Does anyone have any strategies for dealing with the staring and comments? I haven't made any New Year's resolutions yet, but if I do, I would like to resolve to handle situations like yesterday's lunch in a more positive way.