On a resent visit to the mall, I noticed that almost every person I walked past took a back take when they saw Leah, some just using their eyes as they walked past us, others even went as far as stopping to stare…. I don’t want to sound like im exaggerating about this matter; most of the time I just keep quiet because I feel that all people ever hear me speak about is Leah and Achondroplasia!
I feel I have to vent some feeling on this post. The reason why I know that the stares were more noticeable is because my six-year-old daughter Nicole turned to me and asked why everybody was looking at Leah? This is when I realized that there are no more … “I cant notice so much” or the “im not quite sure” stares, this was Official Leah has taken on the full appearance of a “little person” and the reason why its not noticeable to us as her family is because we are with her everyday we don’t see her as being different.
I have brought this topic up during a conversation with one or two of my acquaintances and I was told that being the parents of special children we (the parent) tend to overreact to the “staring thing”, and sometimes people just stare, they don’t actually mean anything by their reaction. At the time of that particular conversation I thought that maybe this person was right and just maybe I am overacting…. but today after some long hard thinking I beg to differ. I distinctly remember one of my first “childhood life” lessons taught to me by my parents, and that was not to “STARE” because it can be considered rude, and if you do happen to see something that you would like to know more about, ask your questions tactfully in order to get an answer.
Society tends to dictate what is “normal” and “acceptable” and I know that there are some individuals out there who believe that people with physical and mental disabilities don’t have much purpose or value in our society. I was once asked the question of weather I would send Leah to main stream or special needs school, when I gave main stream schooling as my preference for her, I was horrified at the reaction I received “ Why would you want to main stream Leah when clearly she is not going to fit in”…. “Why”… There might be social acceptability issues because she looks different??
SHE IS SHORT!!!!!! Leah is not mentally or physically challenged, who gives them the right to decides who fits in, and what is socially acceptable?
I have come to the realization that I will never be able to change the way strangers react when they see Leah for the first time. I sometimes wonder if I have worked through all my emotions regarding Leah’s achondroplasia, I know that there are some issues that will stay, the biggest being the sense of protectiveness, I will always be protective of her, especially while she is to young to defend herself. I have promised myself that I will raise her to believe that she will be a fully capable young woman who can do anything she sets her mind to. It is disappointing that some people will never change and they have made up their minds as to what is acceptable and what is not, sad thing is there are so much more to life, and they will never experience the true joy of being free spirited, their judgmental ways will consume them as they try to fit into a world that they believe is perfect.
So I say thank goodness I am not one of them… those are the people I fight against, I have made it my mission to raise awareness about Dwarfism, and I will fight to have my child live and enjoy life just as any other “normal” child would, with the freedom of choice to do what she feels will fulfill her dreams.
My hope is that instead of a blank stare, come over and ask her name so that next time you see us you will say, “Hey look its Leah”, instead of “Hey it’s the little Dwarf girl oh shame”. I really hope that this day comes soon because Leah is such a blessing to us, and we would love to have her touch your heart and be a friend and blessing to you as well.