Curious Eyes and the Pain They Cause

As the mother of a child with a disability I am pretty laid back compared to other special needs parents I have met. I try to be understanding when everyone in the checkout lines turn and stare at my family when we enter a store. The children who frequently stop dead in their tracks with gaping wide mouths are smiled at as I quickly navigate Sweet G around their curious eyes.

I try to tell myself that they look because they are curious and because we are such beautiful people that they can’t help becoming mesmerized by our striking good looks. Well, I can’t even convince myself of that one but the point is that I really do try to put myself in the position of the lookie-lou in question and move on with my life. There are times, however, when I have an experience that throws me off balance and leaves me searching for direction. Today was one of those days.

We decided to take in a family movie this afternoon. Sweet G asked to go see Cars 2 and since that is something he never asks for we wanted to take him for some special family time. We bought our tickets before entering the theater. Having arrived a few minutes before the movie was going to start we decided to get in line for some refreshments. As we stood there in line my husband says you may want to take G and go find us some seats. Initially I said, “Why, it doesn’t look that crowded to me.” J replied, “Well, it wouldn’t hurt because all the handicapped section may get full.” Not wanting to disagree, I turned and headed with Sweet G toward the theater.

As I rolled G into the theater and into the main aisle where the handicapped seating is located I couldn’t believe my eyes. Every seat was taken by able bodied people. There wasn’t one disabled person in sight. Oh, my blood started to boil. I just stood there with my mouth agape in disbelief. There was a woman around my age in the first set of seats with her young child. An older lady sat with a young girl in the second set of seats. The third set of seats held an elderly man with a small boy, and two wild unattended boys took up the last set of seats. I stood there for a good minute just looking at them all. Remember that I said earlier that we don’t enter anywhere unnoticed. They all, with the exception of the two boys on the far end of the theater looked straight at me and Sweet G.

What do you think happened? Did the woman my age with a little boy close to G’s age offer their seats? Maybe you think it was the older woman and her grand-daughter who surrendered their seats. Surely it must have been the elderly man who nobly sacrificed his seats for a child in a wheel chair. Maybe the young boys took notice and offered their seats. Who do you think did the right thing and moved out of the handicapped seating so a disabled child could sit in the seating reserved for individuals with special needs like him? If your answer was none of the above you are a winner! Not one person moved from their seat. I stood there amazed at the lack of concern those three adults showed by their complacency. They sat there looking at me and G until I turned and walked back out of the theater.

I returned to the theater with an usher who asked the first lady and her son if they minded moving. The woman very pleasantly said, “Oh, of course I don’t.” She quickly moved to another set of seats and I was able to set down and position Sweet G’s chair beside me.

I could have asked someone as easily as the usher. I’m not sure why I didn’t. The only reason I can think of is that I was so shocked by the lack of consideration those people displayed by their actions to first sit in a section intended for those with special needs, and secondly their choice to stare at us without offering to move.

As I talked to my husband tonight I described my desire to teach Sweet G to be kind and retain a Godly character yet be able to diplomatically stand up for himself. There are some things in life he will simply have to endure and the gawking eyes of strangers is one of them. I struggle with how to handle those situations. I have a hot Irish temper and once angered my tongue often speaks fire and death. I don’t want to be a bad example to my Sweet G. He has a precious spirit that I don’t want to corrupt but at the same time I don’t want a lifetime of being treated rudely to cause him to become discouraged.

Life is a constant balancing act that leaves me struggling to decide the right things to do. I feel so unequipped to parent my sons, to be the wife my precious husband deserves, and to trust and forgive those who offend me. It isn’t like I don’t know what I need to do. I need to turn to my Lord and ask for guidance. Instead I wait until I have extinguished all my earthly ways of handling things and am at my breaking point. But you know what? That’s okay. He understands, He knows me more intimately than I know myself and He loves me (adores me) in spite of all my imperfections. I just need to remember that sometimes blessings come as raindrops. It is then that I run to the shelter of my Saviors arms and there that I find answers and peace.

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