Monday, August 2, 2010

Tell Me How You Really Feel

We don't really see Em's dot anymore.  It's just part of her and makes her who she is.  Other people, however, definitely seem to notice, and I am increasingly amazed at the frequency with which strangers will bring it up.  More often than not, they want to know what it is, as though there are several alternatives: a third eye, a REALLY BIG freckle, a bad sunburn in a very localized area, a stamp from a Bingo-dobber like the kind my Grandma carried in her lucky Bingo bag?  What do they think it is?  I always reply, "It's a birthmark," leaving the implicit "you dumbass" unsaid. 

But when it comes to children, I can't really fault them for asking.  After all, it's an intriguing world out there, filled with birthmarks and moles and lost appendages and all kinds of things for kids to stare at.  I can fault their parents if they don't handle the situation correctly, or don't handle it at all, choosing instead to go mute or fumble through their diaper bag for an object of vital importance instead of talking to their children.  Those parents get my Look of Death, not the kids.  Unless the kid is old enough to know better, at which point The Look is unleashed upon all.

In this story, the little boy in question was probably old enough to know better at 7 or 8 years old, but his mother was sufficiently contrite and horrified so that the Look of Death was withheld pending further judgment.  No little boys were harmed in the making of this dialogue.

Characters: Me, Em, Little Boy (LB), LB's Mom
Setting: Lake Pinneo in Quechee, yesterday

LB: What's that on the baby's head?

ME: It's a birthmark.

LB: No, it's not.  Birthmarks are brown.

ME:  Yes, most birthmarks are brown, but some are red, like hers.

LB:  Well, I don't care what it is.  She looks like an alien.

LB'S MOM (gasping in horrified embarrassment):  LB!  You can't say things like that about how people look!  It's not polite!  (smiling awkwardly and apologetically)

ME:  Don't worry, it's alright.  Kids don't have filters.

LB'S MOM:  LB, you can't say things like that about people.

LB:  Why? It's true.  She looks like an alien.  (screaming) ALIEN BABY!!!!

Awkward moment while LB's MOM tries to punish him and I turn away like it's no big deal.

And it really wasn't a big deal and it was funny.  But it makes me think about people whose babies really do have something wrong with them, something more serious than a strawberry birthmark, and I feel sad for their moms who must have to deal with oblivious, idiotic people all day every day.  Em and I can take it, especially armed with the Look of Death, passed on for many generations, but if her birthmark doesn't fade and her hair doesn't cover it, will I be dealing with stupid people when she's in elementary and middle school?  I might not be able to contain The Look if it goes from curiousity to unkindness.  I hope, for her sake, that it doesn't get that far.  Otherwise it may be hard for her to make friends with a mommy who always has a crazy scowl on her face if she has a big birthmark on her head!  Oh, the things we worry about...she's only three months old and I'm fighting theoretical bullies for her in my imagination!  Lucky for her she has a cool older brother to keep an eye out for her and maybe some bust heads if necessary.

Let's just hope it doesn't come to any of that!

Pretty baby girl.


lauren & aaron said...

Love it!! :)

Zeller Family said...

Yes she is...pretty that is :)

gramma said...

my beautiful emmy, beautiful, beautiful,kisses from above for beautiful emmy! love gramma

amy g said...

She is so beautiful. And you are such a great mom...

Dawniebee12 said...

She is beautiful and it looks like a heart in pictures sometime! Cute! Don't worry, her hair will cover it. She'll just have cute bangs that Auntie Molly will cut for her!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I love this and it sucked me right back in time to the countless children and adults that I was forced to deal with as a result of the tumor on my eye. Your daughter is simply beautiful just the way she is!

Just as an FYI, i'm sure your pediatrician already discussed with you-but it will likely be go away. My son was born with one on his back and, at six years old it has been completely absorbed. My middle daughter has one on her back and her shoulder, one raised like your baby and one not. Both are shrinking and though taking a bit longer than my sons, they seem to be going away as well.
Funny, the tumor on my eye at birth was a more serious version of a strawberry mark. I was terrified that my children would be born with one and face a lifetime of LBs like the one you encountered at Quechee.

With a strong and confident mommy, she'll be just fine :)