I Don’t Care If You Stare

Pretending to be a puppy at the pet food store…


The moment I stopped caring so much about how strangers perceive my child,
is the moment I was set free.
I can’t pinpoint when it happened exactly, but
somewhere along the road from resentment to contentment, I rediscovered the joy
of parenting my unique child. 

 
I don’t mind a curious glance my way if it’s brought on by my own behaviour. If I pull out some experimental moves on the dance floor and turn over on my ankle and squeal like a pig, (hypothetically of course) an eye-roll in my direction is justified.
 
When strangers stare disapprovingly at my innocent child however, my mama lion mane stands on end.
 
Though my daughter appears “normal,” her developmental delays cause some decidedly odd behaviours. Errands are always eventful. 
 
Common grocery store scenario: As she furiously stuffs checkout aisle candy into her pocket, her attention suddenly turns to the man behind us in line. While tugging relentlessly on his sleeve, she announces to all within earshot that he’s her daddy (I never met the guy, I swear!). When she tires of him, she darts behind the counter to give the cashier a bear hug. My attention is elsewhere as I frantically search for my iPhone… later found in the bread aisle on the shelf where my child put it for “safe keeping.”
 
I can hardly blame observers for thinking, “What’s wrong with this kid? She’s too old to be behaving this way.
 
And this is when I’d start to sweat; worried about people thinking I was a terrible parent who had lost control of her unruly kid. Not only did I feel protective of my child, I sometimes felt embarrassed by her. How horrible is that?
 
I am a good parent. I know it, my child knows it, and those who care about us know it.
 
I’m not the first parent, or the last, to feel mortified by their child’s behaviour. I’ve seen kids throw some impressive public tantrums, use colourful language and run around restaurants like hyper squirrels. But as the saying goes, “Kids say (and do) the darndest things.” And it’s okay. Believing that has rekindled my joy of parenting, temporarily lost under a pile of fears and insecurities.
 
So now when we venture out, I focus on my child, enjoying her zest for life and the laugh out loud moments. I’m proud of her and grateful she’s mine.
 

She is energetic, demonstrative and curious. She’s my girl. If people want something to stare at, I can give them an eyeful. The grocery store is the perfect place to show off my signature “shopping cart” dance move…

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