The looks that hurt

This weekend, an old friend came to visit. She lives out of state and we hadn’t seen each other in years. She brought her son, who’s 7, the same age as my little boy, Max. Except he and my five-year-old immediately jetted off to the basement to play on the Wii. I helped Max walk downstairs so he could join in.

This kid had two front teeth that were loose and askew, and he showed them to us, proudly. A few minutes later, Max walked up very close to him and gestured at his mouth. The kid backed away with a half-scared-half-annoyed look I’ve observed on other kids’ faces. “Oh, he just wants to see you wiggling your teeth again!” I said with cheer I didn’t really feel as I gently pulled Max away. “Honey, that’s standing too close,” I told Max.

The other kid still had that look in his eyes.

I get where it comes from. Kids who haven’t had much exposure to kids with special needs can be scared of them. When Max invades another child’s space like that, it may seem threatening. When I watch kids watching Max, something I tend to do, I can see that they’re just not sure what to make of Max, a kid who’s as tall as they are but who still drools at times.

I want other kids to accept Max. I want them to see that even if Max doesn’t talk like they do, just like any other kid he likes to play and laugh and have a good time and appreciate the wackiness of teeth that are about to fall out.

But those looks he gets from kids say otherwise. Those looks, they haunt me.

Ellen blogs daily at Love That Max.

Photo/Pink Sherbet

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