Our Silver Lining

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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.

 

Posted on July 24, 2015, in 3. Addy Stories & Experiences. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thanks for this post, and all other posts! I really enjoy reading everything you write. I’m interested in knowing how you feel about makeup. I have a boy, so it’s not really something I consider an option (unless he wants to use it, then of course I’m supportive of that). The foundations and application techniques used these days, are so amazing that if she chooses to use makeup to cover her PWS, then it truly will be hidden from the world.

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments! I’m so glad that you’re enjoying it here! (We were traveling, so it took me a few days to respond here – sorry!)

      Ahh, good question about makeup. When Addy was a baby, I wondered what my philosophy might become on covering her stain; now that she’s a bit older, I know that I’m not against it.

      I remember the awkwardness of the teen years; I remember wanting to fit in. And I think we’re too quick to rant against ‘society’ (“Impossible beauty standards!” “We need to change society’s perceptions!”), instead of shepherding our children through their natural urges to fit in with the tribe(s) around us.

      Children in every society want to fit in, and that’s not unhealthy. Vanity and self-obsession (for either bad or good) are unhealthy. Therefore, my goal as parent is to gently guide Addy to a place of comfort & safety with her identity. To help her not fixate on her appearance unhealthily.

      Since we’re not hermits, this cannot happen in a vacuum away from society. For better or worse, there will be times when she’ll want to “fit in”. What that means to her in that moment is anyone’s guess; perhaps she’ll need a specific shade of green for her prom dress or she’ll die. Perhaps she’ll want her hair cut short so she’s not the only girl with a ponytail like a little kid. Perhaps she’ll freak out about her port wine stain and panic that her unique face sets her apart from her tribesmen.

      If she does, I shall ease her panic by making the cover-up available to her. It would be the wrong time for a lesson about ‘how stupid’ society is. If she wants to try erasing it, I’ll let her go there.

      The time for building that base confidence is now (and the last 7 years), not when she’s a panicky teen. Addy’s happy with her face right now at age 7. She loves her port wine stain. She says she’s glad to have it.

      Her confidence assures me that the teen panic will be a passing phase; and, like the rest of us, once she’s found her footing, she’ll settle into her identity and relax a bit in adulthood.

      I’m okay with her trying to hide it as a teen. (She loves me and will try to hide me at some point out of embarrassment, too.). I would be concerned if she didn’t want to leave the house uncovered right now, though – that would tell me we have some work to do to help her accept her beauty and flaws first.

      But, even then, if she went to a big school with lots of strangers and some bullies, and everyone fixated on it every single day, and her life was miserable because no one could get past the stain to know her… I’d probably let her cover it up now, too. We would work on being vulnerable and exposed at home; but I wouldn’t intentionally let her daily life be miserable if there was a solution. That’s part of our philosophy behind zapping it off, as well. I can rail against society’s inadequacy as much as I want, but at the end of the day it’s Addy who has to face it with her unique stain, and if I can help her daily life not be miserable, I’d like to try.

      My hope, of course, is that she loves her face enough that she doesn’t ever bother. 🙂

  1. Pingback: Not-so-Uniquely Flawed | What Happened To Her Face?

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