I looked at the ocean water, as it moved calmly under the bright glowing sun. Nate sat next to me in a beach chair, relaxing and enjoying himself on his first trip to a Caribbean Island. It was great to be on the beach, as a day before we had spent a wonderful time, walking through the cobblestone streets of San Juan, and eating beans and rice, after shopping for souvenirs in dainty little shops.
As our trip came to a close, we decided to have our last breakfast in the hotel restaurant. In front of my growing boy, sat plates of his favorite food; pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, and hash browns. I helped him eat, to avoid his food becoming ornaments on his clothing. And as Nate took small bites of his food, he smiled and flailed his hands in delight that his stomach was being satisfied.
As we ate, I noticed a couple at the table adjacent to ours. A man was talking to a woman and instead of giving him eye contact, her large eyes were fixated on us, but mostly Nate. At first, I tried to ignore it, but as we continued to eat, her stare began more intense, which irritated me.
I whispered to my mother “What is her problem?”
My mother turned around to see the woman’s eyes set in a gaze on Nate. “I don’t know…” she responded.
I then decided to look at the woman and do what I had done in the past with others, who I noticed were locked in a deep stare of my son. I smiled at her. However, she didn’t seem to care, as here eyes continued to hone in on my child. I was done! So we quickly finished our meal, then walked out of the restaurant, as her eyes escorted us out the door.
Through the years, that incident and many others used to bother me to my core. I can still here myself complaining.
“What are people looking at?”
“Don’t people know it’s rude to stare?”
“Wasn’t they taught manners?”
And….I can go on and on and on…yet what is the point.
Well, after years of letting “staring” bother me, I began to understand that it wasn’t other people. I had to simply not care, about the looks that people gave my child. And that could only come by growing in confidence. As I developed confidence, truly believing that Nate was “perfect in his way”, the looks and stares were no longer a problem for me.
It’s amazing how, to this very day, when Nate and I are in a store, swimming at the YMCA, or anywhere, people still look at us and stare. I “notice it”, but it doesn’t have that same effect on me. That “What they are looking at?” attitude is gone. I have learned to focus on Nate and “Let People Stare”.
In allowing them to stare, I know their eyes will be encouraged and even blessed by receiving a glimpse of our life and seeing me raise my child with special needs.