I knew the day would come that someone, somewhere, would comment on my Mermaid’s nevus. I mentally prepared myself for how I was going to handle it and my plan was full of grace and couth. It’s my intention to show my Mermaid that other people’s reactions are just that, reactions. Things we aren’t familiar with spark people to stare, not always to be malicious but out of curiosity, and other times the unknown sparks fear. Having a level response to that will help build confidence and I need to be the foundation of that.
Well… the day had come, and my “plan” failed to say the least.
Mermaid and I were in the store bright and early on a weekday morning. I needed to pick something up for work and Mermaid was perusing the candy. A woman had been in the aisle with us for several minutes and looked directly at us multiple times and all was right. Mermaid was in a sundress which showed a lot of skin but unless you are looking for a problem or she lifts her arm, her Nevus is a well-kept secret at this point in time. Well what is a 2-year-old to do when the treat they want is higher than their little arms go… they reach for the sky right?!!?
As Mermaid’s arm went up, exposing her Nevus the SAME woman who had been standing next to us for several minutes with no problems at all, gasped, not a meek gasp, a LOUD, attention drawing gasp as if she hadn’t had air in days and projected “OH MY GOD” as she stared at my Mermaid.
Mermaid, being 2 and not understanding what the woman was reacting too, jumped – startled, and began to cry. I didn’t even think, I don’t remember there being more than several seconds between her gasp, Mermaid’s cry and my response but it wasnt nice. I must have turned a deep crimson and shot beams at her with my eyes as I watched her stare with slight disgust at Mermaid’s arm as I yelled “YOUR A DISGUSTING WENCH!”, grabbed Mermaid’s hand and basically drug her from the store. No treat, without what I came for, heart pumping, baby crying, obscenities flying the whole way out and knowing myself, I was probably stomping. There is no doubt in my mind I looked a certain level of crazy.
Sigh. Not my finest moment. I don’t even use the word wench so where that came from I can’t say. My preparation to handle that moment with grace and couth was a fleeting thought and I failed my first test. I was just down right mad.
I have now had a few days to think about everyone’s reactions in that moment. I don’t blame that Woman for being a bit shocked. The reality is, that until my child had it, I knew nothing about this disease and would be caught off guard myself if presented so closely with it. Did she need to gasp and yell to the extent of drawing attention and scaring my daughter, No. Then again, did I need to yell and draw attention? No. It seemed to be a chain reaction of good ole’ fight or flight responses. The Woman felt threatened by something unknown, Mermaid felt threatened by the unknown Woman, and I felt threatened by the response to the unknown. The perfect storm for a convenience store debacle at 6 am on a Wednesday morning. The cashier probably thought we were in a spat over a kit kat!
I feel like every situation, every appointment, every new bit of research I come across adds this whole new layer I need to understand. Bigger than that is getting the people who are NOT familiar with the disease to understand some of it too. At 2 years old my daughter isn’t hurt by a strangers stares or gasps, but her Mom is. To be reminded that what I have accepted as normalcy is seen as a flaw to others is hurtful. To be shown the response people may have to her disease when she is old enough to understand is hurtful. To know that it may continue to grow and thicken and be even more noticeable creating more opportunities for those encounters, is hurtful. If people were better educated on the disease perhaps it wouldn’t be such a scary moment when they were faced with it.
I would like to say that if presented with the same situation down the road, I would respond differently, more of a serene approach opposed to attack mode, but it hardly seems fair to make a promise I don’t know I can keep. I can say this though, I am not proud that my response was somewhat aggressive and to that Woman, I apologize. I also apologize that after leaving I imagined myself attacking you like a wild animal and settling the score right then and there, but I AM proud that in a matter of seconds I felt the need to protect my Mermaid without any hesitation. I’m sure Mermaid would also like to thank you for the fact that as a result of being drug from the store she got to eat the random candy from my car for breakfast. (Mom of the year award right here).
With it now out of my system I am moving forward with our journey and hoping my next response is a bit more tactful! Live and learn right!
“If you use tact you can say anything, then make it funny.”
Thanks for walking with us today,