Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Queries from Strangers Part IV

I’ve written a few entries about stupid things people say to me regarding Maggie and her disabilities. (check the label/tag “stupidity” to see the previous three posts about this.) This is probably the last one of these for a while. As noted, sometimes I have snappy comebacks and sometimes I don’t. That depends on several factors, including my mood, my relationship with the person speaking, how insulting they are etc.

The comments happen frequently but not constantly. They are tiresome, unless they come from children. I always answers questions or even invite comments from kids because the only way kids learn is by asking. The same is true of adults, of course, but adults get points off for boorish behavior. Often the answer should be, “it’s none of your business. “ but the last thing Maggie needs in this world is a mother who alienates people. She is isolated enough.

There were a couple of instances that demanded a stronger reaction.

Maggie was a funny looking baby, I admit that. Her head was huge, she wore these (cute) pink plastic glasses and was always sort of draped over my arms. People often stared and then caught themselves and stopped right away. Sometimes they didn’t stop and it made everyone uncomfortable.

In one instance a woman’s incessant staring was frightening the boys, who were about 5 and 7 years old at the time. We were in Toys R Us. I tried to ignore her and told the boys to do the same but she was cranking her head and staring at Maggie mouth agape. Her husband was trying to get her to stop as he could see that the boys were worried. I will never know what her story was and to this day I wonder if she lost a child or something.

But you know what? No matter what your story, you cannot scare my kids. I finally walked up to her and said. “We are done in this aisle, but if you want to continue to stare we will be over in action figures.”

Needless to say that stopped her cold. The boys were relieved and learned that sometimes you have to school people a little bit. They still stare back at people and make them realize what they are doing. That day they managed to parlay the whole scene into (another) Ninja Turtle or whatever the action figure du jour was.

The other was, without a doubt, the most insulting thing anyone ever said to me. But it was so ludicrous that it was almost funny. We were in the dog park and I noticed my benchmate, an older Russian woman, staring at Maggie. I ignored her and simply enjoyed being out in the air watching the dog frolic. After several minutes the woman, who spoke with a very strong Russian accent said “Vats wrong wid her?” I gave my stock answer,” nothing’s ‘wrong.’ This is how she was born.” I studiously ignored her continued stares, but I knew something else was coming. She tapped my leg and waited until I looked at her. She then pointed a bony finger in my face and said”

“No more bebies, pleeece”

Looking back now I get that she was trying to give me a lesson in genetics, but didn’t have the command of the language. That would still be terribly offensive, but the way it came out was incredible. A complete stranger in the dog park was wagging her finger in my face and telling me not to breed again. I was dumbstruck for a moment, which is a rare occurrence for me. The absurdity of the whole thing hit me and the only thing to do was respond in an equally absurd way. I just looked at her and said. “You know I was going to but since you don’t think I should, I will tell my husband -- no more kids.”

My sarcasm was completely lost on this woman. She just looked back at the dogs and said “Ya, dat iz goot”

Now it was my turn to stare.

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