Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Benefit of the Doubt

This evening, we took Elijah to the dentist.

He did so good. I made sure to explain to Elijah that we were going to the dentist and that we would be getting his teeth cleaned; he seems to be understanding more language...I think...I hope. He let the dental hygienist work in his mouth a little and even giggled when she "tickled" his teeth.  He was apprehensive at times, but I was actually happy to see that he had some fear. It's appropriate to be a little afraid of new situations. What kid hasn't been afraid of the dentist at times?

We have an awesome dental hygienist named Michele. She's the same person who cleans my teeth and everyone in the office seemed so delighted by Elijah. I love that - when other people can soak in some of the joy that is Elijah. It makes me happy to see people smile at our boy.

Then there was a gentleman in the lobby who just seemed utterly and completely annoyed by Elijah. He didn't say anything, but he gave me this look that spoke volumes. Something like, "Keep your kid away from me" or "Can't you control your child?" or "Lady, your kid really isn't all that cute. Wipe that smile off of your face." There was nothing friendly in his gaze.

We got outside and Andy said, "Wow, the people in the lobby seemed grumpy."

"You mean that guy sitting filling out paperwork?"

"Yeah, what was his deal?"

And this is pretty much the thing that terrifies me about raising a child with special needs - the way other people will treat him. I really don't care that Elijah is different. I seriously don't. I mean, yes, there are hard things about Elijah's disabilities, but that's not what I focus my attention on. Elijah is an awesome kid. An awesome person.  But, I have no control over how other people will treat him. I can't stop the grumpy looks - or the worse things that will most likely happen.

But, the one thing I can do is remember the people who do soak up that joy that is Elijah - the lady at the front desk who couldn't help peering into our exam room to catch a glimpse of our boy's dimples, our dental hygienist who is wonderful with Elijah: "Elijah you were my best patient today!", the dentist who is always so kind, my hair stylist who comes to our house to cut Eli's hair, and all the wonderful people who see Elijah for the amazing little person that he is. That is what I will continue to remember.

I will remind myself that we're all human with our own stories to tell. Perhaps the man in the waiting room was waiting for a root canal and had no smiles left for the day. I have a hard time understanding how one could resist smiling at our boy, but you just never know, do you?


Unknown said...

Hi Lisa, If it helps at all, some people are annoyed with kids -- special needs or not. I pretty much feel like a big spectacle each time I go shopping, with the screaming and the running and the bumping into things....

Erin said...

Andy and Lisa,

I think in a situation like this you just have to take joy in your miracle and enjoy the people who enjoy him. I have gotten some odd looks from Ethan. He LOOKS "normal." It can be hard but honestly I have learned that if they have an issue and are dumb enough not to realize something is different about him (by his sounds, flapping, way of acting in general) than they aren't worth my trying to explain it.

BTW, I miss you! Any miracle you are going to Gatlinburg??? If you guys and even if you could strong arm Andy and Karen to road trip with you guys we have the space, toys, food and hospitality to spare!

sugarmagnolia70 said...

I love your attitude! Who knows why he was grumpy. Maybe he wasn't feeling well, or just lost his job. And if he's annoyed by kids (with needs or not) well he's a lost cause, now isn't he?

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