Tuesday, October 5, 2010

31 for 21: A special girl

Last night I took Braska with me to WalMart. She loves to go shopping, and she’s always happy to sit in the cart and say hi to people or point out various items or letters that she sees.  She’s a fun little shopping companion, and I realized while we were walking in that I don’t get to take her much anymore because I usually go when she’s at school in the mornings.

At one point, a lady from behind who had 4 little kids with her said, “Oh, she is SO cute!”  I wasn’t sure she was aiming her compliment at Braska, but then she cam around us a few seconds later and said, “She’s adorable! How do you keep her glasses on??”  [This is probably the most common question of ANY kind that we get when we’re in public.  Followed closely by “How can they tell what prescription she needs with her glasses??”]  I gave the general rundown of the fact that she’s had them since she was 13 months and just accepted them from day one because she could finally SEE things.

As that mom moved on, an employee there came over to talk to Braska.  Of course, she looked the lady over and didn’t talk for a bit.  People always ask a question and then repeat it about 4 times before she will answer… and she’s still processing the first time.  But I don’t get into “Hey, if you’ll ask the question once and pause for about 2 seconds, she will answer you.”  I usually try to get her attention and make eye contact and ask the question… what’s your name, do you have a sister, are you shopping?  Braska did finally tell her what her name was.  Then she pointed to my shirt, because I was wearing one of my NEBRASKA t-shirts.  And she knows that’s her name, so she was providing a visual aid for the lady.  I thought that was funny.

We finished picking up our few items and headed for the checkout.  As we were steering toward the line, a lady passed and said, fairly loudly, “It’s a special child!  You have a special little girl.”  Like I won something.  It was in that kind of celebratory tone.  She came up beside me and said that she just LOVES the “special ones” because they are SO sweet.  Braska smiled at her, with a hint of hesitancy because it was kind of in-your-face-niceness happening.  I agreed with her that I did have a special girl and she was, in fact, pretty sweet.

She went on and we checked out and headed for the door.  Just as we were passing through the did-you-steal-anything detectors, an older gentleman with an unidentifiable specialness of his own leaned over to me and waved at Braska. Then he said to me, “Hey, did she pick up the bill for ya today?” and he laughed.    I told him I always let her pay when she comes along.  He thought that was great and laughed again as he walked away.

These people were sweet to interact with us, they were honest in their interest or compliment.  They held no disrespect for Braska’s disabilities, though they noticed she was different.  They were not all genteel in their approach or up to date on the current appropriate way to say things.  But they saw a little girl who drew them to make a little connection, and that’s great.  I welcome that, and I won’t interrupt it to point out that their admiration needs to be said in a politically correct way.  To me, that’s completely ridiculous.

I am not a champion of all the right terminology.  This is not news for most of you.  I appreciate that these people wanted to engage us.  They could have said any number of “worse” things, “wrong” words, or words in the “wrong” order, and it still wouldn’t have bothered me.  I want nothing more than for Braska to get to be appreciated for being a little girl.  I’m not too concerned with how it’s said when the spirit is purely joyful and full of admiration.


  1. RK, yes Braska is a special girl. I'll agree with you on that point. However, I'm glad it was you and not me. If someone had said "it's a special child" to me I would not have appreciated it, regardless of their intent. But that's just me.
    Luv ya,

  2. Jen, I can imagine how it would have gone if someone had said it to you. :o) But I agree with the lady that I have a special child. I have two, in fact. They're both special, but Braska is especially special in her own way, and I'm completely ok with that. She has "special needs" she goes to "special education," and I don't mind if someone compliments her by saying she's special.

    But yeah, that's me. You know these things don't bother me. And you know I luvs ya, too. xo

  3. I'm with you. I try to look at where it's coming from. If it's not perfectly stated, we can clean it up later, but if someone wants to love on my girl in a less than PC way, that's fine with me!

  4. Carole--It must be that I have a good example of positive outlook and attitude in my mother-in-law. :o)

    Courtney--Precisely. Thanks!

  5. I really appreciate that you look at the intent of the comment - the heart of the matter. Speaking as one from "outside the circle" (for lack of a better term), I tend to feel intimidated and am fearful that I will say the wrong thing in an offensive way without realizing it and so will avoid the topic completely just so I don't hurt anyone through the process... which doesn't do much for educating others either.

    I wouldn't be offended if someone came up and told me my kids were special -- but I'm not having to constantly deal with junk and advocate for my kids either - so I can see the rub.

  6. Jessie---You said perfectly what I've been trying to figure out. So the "outside the circle" perspective is quite helpful so often. I don't want others to have to fear what they say and therefore say nothing... I'd rather they ask an honest question, or make an honest statement, than keep silent and miss the opportunity to interact. There's a whole post about just that...in my head, anyway. Maybe I'll get to it...


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