Homepreschool and Beyond

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What’s Wrong With Your Face? What’s Wrong With Your Manners?!

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on January 22, 2011

        I have always taught my children not to stare at people who are different, not to ask rude questions and not to make rude comments.  But last night my son was on the receiving end.

        My 10 year old Josh (like the rest of us) has been sick.  First he was diagnosed with a sinus infection and then he got the flu on top of it.  After he got over the flu, we thought he was finally on the mend…then he got severe hives.  Ends up he’s having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic he’s been on. 

        I really hated to take him out at all, but last night I had to get my daughter to a college class.  While we waited for her we went to get blood work done on Josh (he didn’t even flinch!).   Then we had some time to kill before her class was over.  There was a Borders store nearby so we decided to go there.  Josh looked awful (felt awful, too) so I warned him that people might look at him funny, or stare, or even ask him about his rash.  I told him if someone asked, he should answer that he wasn’t contagious, and that it was just hives–an allergic reaction.  It’s a good thing I warned him. 

        I thought perhaps another child might try to talk to him about his rash—but not an adult!

        While we were at the store, I had to use the restroom.  I told the boys to sit down outside the hall of the restroom and stay there for a minute.  In the time I was gone, an adult walked up to Josh and asked him, “What’s wrong with your face?” 

        I BEG your pardon?  What’s wrong with your face?!  This “adult” apparently didn’t know she was being rude, or didn’t care.  At least she could have asked nicely.  ”Are you feeling OK?” would have been appropriate; even, “Are you contagious?” would be understandable.  Better yet, she could have waited until *I* came out of the bathroom and diplomatically expressed concern over him to me—out of his earshot.  But, “what’s wrong with your face”?  I can’t tell you how upset that made me.

        It’s a good thing I wasn’t there…I honestly don’t know what I would have said.  I couldn’t believe that an adult would be so insensitive to a child. 

       Josh answered just as I told him to, and his feelings weren’t hurt, thank the Lord.  But the experience really got me thinking…and it did give me an opportunity to discuss it “differences” with the boys. 

       I told them to imagine that the rash was permanent.  What if his face was like that all the time?  How would it make you feel if people stared at your face, asked you about it all the time, or even made fun of you?  Imagine how hard that would be, and how much it would hurt your feelings.  What if one of us had another physical disability that made us different, such as a severe limp, the loss of a limb, hearing aides, scars, having to use a wheelchair, etc?  How would we want others to treat us?

       I guess the end of this rant is a simple:  Teach your children to be kind to others, especially those who are different.  Teach them not to stare or make rude comments.  Tell them that if they have questions about someone else’s appearance, they should ask you in private.  Most of all, lead by example.  Put yourself in another person’s shoes before you speak.  Watch your manners!

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.


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