I am officially okay with the fact that total strangers stare at my child, trying to figure out what's "wrong" with him. I'm not actually okay with this, but I resigned myself to it a long time ago. He has large pieces of plastic and metal hanging off his head. People are people. I'd stare, if I didn't know what it was. When I see something I don't understand, I look a little longer. We're hardwired to do that.
But it still gives me a very strange sensation when I notice people staring -- which, in a crowded city like this, is every few minutes. A strange combination of fierce mama bear defensiveness, pride, and slightly dizzying self-consciousness. Adults don't stare for long, because it's rude, and most of them come to their senses very quickly and avert their gaze -- having pegged him as a child with some sort of disability, probably deaf (if they recognize the hearing aid), they feel pity for him and for me. It's really weird walking down the street or hanging around a playground and knowing that you are the object of other people's pity. It's kindly meant, but it just feels weird.
It's a very fleeting sensation and we've learned to ignore it most of the time. For all I know people have been shaking their heads in a vague sort of pity over me all my life, and I never noticed it -- I am after all a math geek with particularly weak fashion sense. Weird.
"I Cannot Even Smile Here"
2 months ago