“That baby looks different.”

 

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The boys hangin’ out in the car.

 

For a time in my teenage years, I was obsessed with the 1985 movie “Mask”, starring Cher and Eric Stolz, for a few reasons. First of all, Stolz played the role of a real person whose last name was Dennis, and secondly, the young man he portrayed had a rare condition that caused his face to be very, very different. I could not stop wondering how he survived the daily stares and comments without snapping.

I am almost passed the point where I am too nervous to hold Marshall up in the air like the opening scene of The Lion King and declare, “This is my child!!!” I make an effort to treat him the same way I treated Quinn at this age.

But I’m still a little nervous, knowing that sooner or later, it’s going to happen.

Well, it happened.

 

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Dropping Quinn off at camp.

 

I’ve been dropping off Quinn at his hippie outdoors-all-day camp each morning and picking him up in the afternoon, always with Marshall in my arms.  I love holding that sweaty meat sack in my arms, watching him curiously scan his surroundings with his big eyes.  The view is way better in the park than in a hospital room.

I’ve noticed some parents noticing.  For all I know, a few may already know about Marshy (more on that later). A lot of kids have noticed too, which was inevitable. Quinn is so used to Marsh he’s oblivious to the quick glances in his direction. There have been a lot of, “Oh, he’s so cute!” because he really is bloody cute.

On the way back to the car, I heard an older boy behind us say to his mother, “That baby looks really different.”

I froze inside but tried to act like I hadn’t heard anything.  I needed to think about what I should do. I continued buckling Quinn into his car seat when the boy’s mother spoke up.

“Oh, you mean his beautiful curly hair? It’s so nice.  You had curly hair too when you were his age.” And with that, I exhaled, got into the car, drove away, and never said a word. One day later, I still don’t know what I should have said, or if I should have said anything. I appreciate the mother’s response.  I think her words were a good answer in that situation.

I know kids have no filter and say whatever comes to mind. I don’t think this boy meant any cruelty; it was just an observation.

I love my little sweaty fluff, and I can’t let my anxiety about situations like this keep me from going out and showing the world how amazing he is.


 

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Out for a sweaty walk on a hot day.  I love to kiss his sweaty feet.

 

On another note, with summer holidays upon me, I’ve been spending a lot of time out and about with Marshall. Apparently, through the power of social media and Bridget’s online omnipresence, Marshall is a bit of a local celebrity.  Every few days to a week, I am stopped by someone who recognizes him. Just this morning, a mother out with her daughter stopped me while crossing the street to tell me she reads this blog. We chatted briefly and we introduced our kids to each other.

It has been uplifting to meet strangers who have entered our lives through Marshall’s journey.  Thank you to everyone who had been following along. Every time you stop to tell me you know Marshall, it gives me the hope that Marshall is going to leave this world a better place than it was before he entered it.

 

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Taking a bath in a sink.  Awww…how cute is that?

 

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5 thoughts on ““That baby looks different.”

  1. Oh dennis – you stories are so honest and heart warming. As for your thoughts on what to say when a comment is directly or indirectly made about your child, we encourage parents to prepare a ‘mission statement’. Think about what you could say that will allow everyone feeling positive – it’s a education moment. It will leave you feeling empowered, the others feeling enlightened, and most importantly you will be modeling for both Quinn and Marshall. We can certainly chat more about it. But good on you and your beautiful family. Good on that other mom too! Hugs!

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  2. Dennis, you have 2 very lovely and beautiful boys! One of the joys of being a teacher is we are privileged to be able to spend so much time with our children in the summer months. Quinn get to attend a summer day camp and you get to spend lots of time with cute little ‘Marshy’ (and he looks so adorably squishy soft!).

    As a teacher of special needs children, some with ‘invisible’ differences and other’s with physical differences (and recently had an Apert’s child for 2 years), I understand your concerns and worries for Marshall. Believe it or not, I have the mother bear come out in me when it comes to my students.

    I view each one as my own and I tell the parents that. If this were my very own child, what would I want them to learn and experience this year, both academically AND socially. Then I have to work to meet those needs.

    It is important that we as adults know how to react properly when rude or awkward (but innocent) comments come from other adults or children out in the community but it’s equally important for teachers like me to try to equip my students with proper responses.

    With the loving care and guidance you bestow on Marshall as he grows up, I’m sure he will be fine. Besides, the people who live with and work with Marshall will always absolutely love him.

    Just from his pictures, he obviously has a curious and living nature. What’s not to love about that? The people around him are the ones who truly matter in his life and to them, Marshall’s ‘differences’ won’t even be there!

    P.S. In 10 years time, please report back to us and let us know if you still love to kiss his smelly and sweaty feet. 😀

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  3. Such bright beautiful eyes. Looking forward to meeting Marshall. 🙂 I think it’s great how the blog you and Brig have created has created a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness, build bridges and connect people.

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  4. Thanks for writing this blog, Dennis! I just got the link, ans I was glued to it all morning. So touching, heart-warming, and inspiring. I really appreciate your sense of humour and your honesty. Your love for your family and the courage you have in facing each hurdle really shines through. I have no idea how you had the time to write (and reflect), but I’m really glad you did!

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