After an appointment with our chiropractor this afternoon, Brielle and I went shopping. We were getting out of my SUV at the second grocery store (yes, I shop at two... to get the best deals, of course!) when I noticed Brielle seemed sad. I asked her what was wrong several times, but she didn't answer. When I asked her if she felt sick, she signed to me, "No, not sick." Exasperated that she wasn't telling me what was wrong, I told her emphatically she needed to use her words to tell me what was wrong.
I figured she didn't mean "lots of people" or "all people", but simply used poor sentence structure (which she almost always does). So, I asked her who stared at her.
"The ladies at the store."
I hadn't noticed anyone in particular staring at us that day at the first grocery store. It was early afternoon on a Thursday, a quiet time with few customers shopping or clerks restocking shelves. But, obviously, someone had been staring.
As we got our cart at the second store, I tried to compose myself a little better. I realized this was a "teachable moment", something mothers live for!
I asked her why she thought the ladies were staring. Brielle just shrugged her shoulders. I had hoped to get a suggestion from her, but without one, I certainly wasn't going to sugar coat the possibilities. I suggested that they might have been staring because she walks differently than other people and has to use a cloth (to wipe her wet chin from not being able to control her saliva).
Brielle just signed, "Maybe." She looked like she was pondering that possibility carefully.
I then told her I was sorry those ladies had stared at her and made her sad.
Brielle turned to me and flashed a huge grin at me and signed, "I OK, Mom." Two seconds later she asked if we needed lettuce this week since it was always her job to go pick out a head of iceberg lettuce and put it in the cart on her own.
The crisis was over. However, I was shaken for hours after it all happened turning it over and over again in my mind.
My heart breaks as I think about what she noticed and what she said. The innocence in this part of her existence is presumed lost. But my heart also swells knowing she is growing up and noticing the world around her in a different way.
PROLOGUE: When my older daughter, Ashley (18), came home from school I told her the story. Her eyes welled up with huge tears and we hugged. I'm not sure if it was harder to hear Brielle's comment and deal with that or watch her sister crying. Gosh, it's tough being a mom sometimes....