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.
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.
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.