Small but mighty

People can be so dumb. I know that is not news to anyone, but it bears repeating. In the past few days I have encountered several strangers who felt compelled to comment on my son’s breathtaking good looks, only to follow such comments up with statements that make me want to go all Steve Blackman on them.

On Thursday I was at the eye doctor and some seemingly nice woman told me that my son was adorable and that he had beautiful eyes. After thanking her, she asked me how old he was. I told her he would be a year the following week. She made an odd face and told me that he is very small for his age. I smiled and kindly told her that (shocker) I was aware of that fact and that it was okay. I told her we recently adopted him and that he was indeed small but was quickly catching up. I was willing to throw her unsolicited, unnecessary comment aside and engaged in conversation with her. She started talking about her time in Africa while in the Peace Corps, and about the lack of Ethiopian restaurants in our area. Out of nowhere she asked if Little Dude was walking. I said that he was not, but that we were very proud of the fact that he recently learned how to sit unsupported and that he was progresses well. Once again she made a face – this time it was one of blatant pity – and said, “Most kids his age should at least be able to crawl, you know.” I pasted on my fakest smile and said that yes, I knew that and that he would get there eventually. Thankfully the doctor took her back them. My hopes of Little Dude discovering his middle finger right then were not realized. Dang.

S and I were in the checkout line at AC Moore’s on Saturday night. I was holding Little Dude as the girl was scanning our items. Like the first woman, she told us that he was adorable and had beautiful eyes. She asked how old he was and I responded that he would be a year the following week. With a pitiful look on her face she told us that he was very small. Again we simply smiled and agreed with her. Then she just started staring at the 3 of us. It was weird for a bit – especially when her look became very puzzled – and then she said, “I am just trying figure out which one of you he looks like.” Well I had been waiting for this one, so I simply replied, “Neither of us.” Her puzzled look changed to one of bewilderment. We let her chew on that for a few seconds before telling her that he was adopted.

In both cases the women meant to be nothing but cordial, I am sure. But both of then stuck their feet in their mouths, and I hope they realize it. What kind of responses are those? They have no idea what a child’s situation could be when asking such questions. Other children with chronic illnesses could be very small too, and perhaps hearing such a comment from a complete stranger would make an already emotionally drained parent upset. What in the world possessed these woman to say such things? Did I point out that they were slighty overweight, that the one had a bad dye job, or that the one had piercings that were just fugly? No, I did not. I guess in their world, though, it would have been perfectly acceptable for me to do so, right?

Little Dude was prematurely born, malnourished after being abandoned for who knows how long after receiving who knows what type of care. He has been exposed to TB, measles, mumps, and chickenpox. He was taken by the Ethiopian government and put into an overcrowded orphanage the didn’t have enough food to go around. Small? Yes. Strong? You betcha. Size doesn’t matter, after all.

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