Our Silver Lining
The scariest kid-social-encounters moments I’ve encountered in parenting have had absolutely nothing to do with Addy’s face.
They’ve been at the playground, when Addy runs up to a small group of older girls, joyfully shouting “Will you play with me?” My world stops: Will they turn their backs on my earnest big-hearted extrovert and break her little heart? Or will they play?
They’ve been at festivals, when Addy finds other children dancing to the music, and jumps in to join them without invitation. I watch intently: Will they look at her like she’s an alien and break her little heart? Or will they dance with her?
They’ve been at school, when Addy comes to class wearing a uniform that’s older, more worn and ill-fitting than some of her classmates’. Will they point the differences out? Or will they be blissfully oblivious to their meaning – that we can’t afford a new set of uniforms, and had to sift through the secondhand bin?
Yes, I bring my own baggage to the table. Addy may be outgoing, but I’m an introvert. I’m still intimidated by any group of children over the age of 3. I’m an adult who wants to be a lot better-off financially than I am, and it kills me that Addy’s stuck with a wardrobe that is a window to our budget.
But none of these has anything to do with her face. I’m almost relieved when it’s the reason a kid looks at her strangely at the playground. I can’t handle the thought of her being rejected for her gracious, extroverted, loving soul, and it would break my heart if she’s rejected for a budget that’s out of her hands.
But her face? That’s easy. She’s got that. She just points to her cheek and says, “Oh, that’s my port wine stain,” or “It’s purple from my laser surgery.”
Keith and I know that a kid can be made fun of for anything. And that they will be, at some point. We count it a blessing that Addy was practically given a flag, like a matador’s red cape among the bulls, to both attract and deflect attention. As long as that mask is visible, it may perhaps be a bully’s go-to flaw, and I’d rather they latch onto that than any quality of her extraordinary soul.