Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder ....

Jake is my sensitive one.My keep it all inside one.The one from time to time that I have to break so he will just get it out.If I didn't, that boy would just shove it all down,choke back the tears and move on.Not all that bad of coping mechanism really.He and Jess are eerily similar.I remember when Jess was watching the movie "ET",she was about Jake's age and it got to the part where ET was laying in the riverbed near death and Jess did this pretend to be yawning move and proclaimed to be ready to go to bed.Didn't finish the movie.Still hasn't to this day.Jake pulls the same move.But today this little guy shared and for him to share what I am about to share with you, means it was really bothering him.Now mind you,he shared it but wanted no part of discussing it.He just needed to get it out and that was that.

Today I walked over to school to pick him up.Joe rides his bike alongside me and Zoey is all comfy in her carrier strapped to me.By the way,she loves that thing.I swear I own every kind of carrier you can name and this one,that was given to me a couple weeks ago by a friend,is her favorite.Anyway,we head to school,grab Jake,retrieve his bike from the bike rack and start back home.Today Jake lingered beside me on his bike instead of whizzing ahead and just blurted out"I heard two kids laughing and talking about Zoey when we were out shopping for shoes the other day."He said it and sped off.I tried to catch up to him,to no avail and when I kind of hollered to him and said we'll talk about that later,he stopped and said there was nothing to talk about.That was my cue to not push the issue.All I said was "Jake,you know,mom and dad would have no problem if you were to say something to anyone, who was laughing or saying anything about your sister.In fact Zoey and all her friends need you to speak up."He said okay and left it at that.I tried,not very successfully to broach the subject again this evening and he wanted no part of it.I know he would have probably cried if I pushed the issue but tonight I didn't have the heart to break him.I think his heart was already broken.Jake was also present when a little girl walked right up to me as I was holding Zoey and there I was cluelessly expecting her to ooo and ahhh over my girl and instead she proclaimed."Your baby is funny looking."I think my heart broke at that moment.

See,I just don't get it.I understand that most of the time these are children, who just may not know any better but then, on the flip side,even before Zoey,I know my children WOULD have known better,because we taught them better.We raised them and instilled in them,the belief that ALL of us are uniquely and beautifully made.No one better then the next.All equal.And when I say ALL I mean ALL.Irregardless of race,religion,political views .. the list goes on.All equal.So sometimes I am blown away and that others do not subscribe to the same parenting method.I know that when I venture out with Zoey that there are double takes.Yes,sometimes because of her striking beauty,kidding,but sometimes those double takes are because in some strangers eyes,she looks different.I don't ever see the different.Ever.Why isn't it then,that the world can't behold the very same beauty I do?And why is it that my other children have to see that kind of ugliness,even from their peers?I won't ever understand it and for certain will never accept it.

28 comments:

peter.olson said...

It's just blindness. They can't see the beauty that God has created. We can!

Anonymous said...

Heather - Oh I know that ugliness and it hurts. I had an aunt who was born with polio. She was "different" - walked and talked and looked different than the normal person, but she was a beautiful person. Kim and I would take her shopping every Saturday and we would hear the whispers and sneers about my aunt, which really upset Kim. But my aunt (who also heard the words) would say to Kim, "don't be upset, they have seen me and I know I am different. That's what God wanted. I have just made an impression on them, that everyone IS different and hopefully, when they see the next 'different' person, they will remember me and not be so mean". Yes, it does hurt - but every time I looked at my aunt I saw only a beautiful person and I knew those that didn't, worn blinders. Your daughter Zoey is a beautiful person and will make a difference in those young lives. They will remember...

Robyn from Otisco Lake

stephanie said...

What a heart your little man has. What a love for his little sister.Maybe he will feel better now that you gave him the thumbs up to speak up for Zoey should that ever happen again. I hold it all in too, but I also have a breaking point.
It makes me so sad that parents of all people in this world still don't get it. That whatever you put into your child is what you'll get out. I feel sad for the children being raised by these closed minded people,they are going to miss out on so much.

grammygwen said...

This post really touched my heart. Some kids and grownups can be so cruel.As you know I am the grammy to Angel Chloe and to John Paul and Dasha adopted from Ukraine, all with down syndrome. We had JP and Dasha at my other grandson's baseball game this summer. Sitting on one side of us were two women who kept looking with funny looks on their face like they were going to catch something. On the other side was a woman who kept smiling at us and after the game said what beautiful kids they are. My 7 year old grandson didn't know that Chloe was any different from any other child. After JP and Dasha were adopted my son explained to him that they had down syndrome like Chloe. His first question was "are they going to die too?" He loved Chloe so much and he loves John Paul and Dasha. He recently gave up a weekend at the beach (which he loves)because if he went he would miss seeing JP and Dasha when they came to visit.He is such a sweetheart, because he has also said that he had better never hear anyone making fun of them.He also introduces them to his friends. I am so proud of him. My heart is touched because of all the cruel people out there, there are kind loving ones to make up for their rudeness. When had Dasha in the grocery store one day and two little girls came up to us and starting talking to us. The older one about 9 yrs old said "she is the most beautiful little girl that I have ever seen and I love her hair." Thank you God for this kind of loving child.
God Bless,
Gwen

Reagan Leigh said...

What's funny is I find myself doing double takes more often now. Not in a bad way though. It's because I know what these families are going through. I know how hard it is to be on that side of the fence. I feel a camaraderie with them...an unspoken camaraderie. It's so hard to get those "looks". Immediately I get on the defensive...just waiting on a remark. But that's just my personality. Then I think about the fact if they knew all we go through, they would be looking at us, in amazement.

The VW's said...

It breaks my heart that our children have to deal with this pain! It's hard enough for us to tolerate it and understand, but they definitely shouldn't have to have this burden on their shoulders!

I know that all of this will only make them more sensitive to others and stronger in the long run. So, although it hurts to watch this, I know that our children are learning some very valuable lessons in life; lessons that unfortunately many never get to learn. I'm so thankful that God has given our family this wonderful gift! HUGS!!!

Lacey said...

Sweet Jake, so much like Mondo. Holds everything in and doesn't show much emotion. I don't understand people either. But maybe thats because I don't think Zoey looks different. I mean every child is different. Its so frustrating. I wish we could teach the world acceptance.

blogzilly said...

The problem is not so much in the parenting overall, its in the exposure. You have to have your kids in a social environment, ala school and such, and all it takes is ONE kid to do something off-color and the other kids can sometimes absorb it even if you don't want them to and have taught them to think and believe contrarily to what they see/hear.

It's not the same thing at all, but lately I have found Carter, my 5 year old, commenting on people being fat. He even said to me "Daddy, you're fat." I try to explain to him that it's not polite to tell people you think they are fat, or ugly, or whatever, and he says he understands, but he'll still do it from time to time.

He would also imitate Bennett's seizures, which also struck me hard. But at the end of the day, maybe there is some solace in that kids will always be kids, and they all say and do things that maybe they shouldn't, but your children will have the benefit of an experience with a sibling that is different and they can be the ones in their classrooms one day leading the other kids by example about what the right things to do are in those kinds of sensitive situations.

Anonymous said...

Your children are truly blessed to have such amazing parents!

Googsmom said...

{{{{{{{{{{{{Jake}}}}}}}}}}}}

Anonymous said...

Hi Heather,
This post went straight to my heart. When our son (who happens to have downs too) was a baby and my husband would take him out to run errands or to get something to eat, he noticed that often, people would stare. Initially, he wasn't sure what to do with the uncomfortableness of that. But soon, it dawned on him - he decided it was a great opportunity to show them how much he loved his son, and what a wonderful relationship they had. This made it easier for people to be comfortable, and when they saw the interaction between a father and his son,they responded, and their stares became smiles.
Our two girls have made it easier for their friends to be comfortable with Scotty by showing their friends how much they love him by the way they interact with him. As a result, Scotty has won over their friend's hearts too and they love interacting with him. He has been such an influence for good in their lives. Wishing sweet Zoey and her whole family all the best,
Karen
Logan UT

Denise said...

Unbelievable!! I can't look at a single picture of Zoey and think she looks anything but beautiful. I don't see what a child could even notice that is different. We just have to remember that we can't change what another person thinks, but I believe that the way we react to something we can control. If we blow up and get mad, that defensiveness just reaffirms their thoughts but if we act maturely and calmly and positively, then they might see a different light!! (I know easier said than done)

Anonymous said...

My heart is breaking.

Jenefer

Anonymous said...

I know about the stares. I have spina bifida. I have seen a lot of stares in my. I walk with a limp.
I am also the proud mom of an autistic son. My older son stopped a friend dead in his track with the following respoinse. Friend:"your brother is stupid"
Son A:"my brother is not stupid. He just thinks different than we do" This was in Kindrgarten or first grade. He is a senior now.
The friend used to come and ply with the younger brother even if my older son was away. SInce then my older son has been diagnosed with aspbergers syndrom.He usually has a comment that will stop you in your tracks in most situations.
Zoey is beautiful, as are all of your chiildren and little CHarlie.

datri said...

I don't think we've ever heard any negative comments towards Kayla (knocking wood). Maybe it's because where we live the largest employer in the county is a place for the multiply disabled? (same place Kayla goes to school now) I don't know how Laurie would react if her classmates said mean things about her sister. I'm sure it would break her heart, no matter how many times we've talked about what to do if it ever happens.

Anonymous said...

The whole Needham family - all eight of you - are an example of what true beauty is. We are grateful and honored to know you.

We love you; you're in our hearts and prayers always.

Anonymous said...

Hello Needhams, I have missed so much by not turning on the computer for 5 days.... Oh goodness, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE!!! Love the high chair and the computer, love the blankets, love Mack & Grace, love the stories. Can't wait to make some blankets! Love to you all, sorry about the teething Miss Zoey, your pictures still look beautiful. xo Christi Harman

Cammie Heflin said...

Wow, our Jake's are very much alike! My little guy always talks about how wonderful his sister is. One time a boy asked him what was wrong with her and he said "Nothing, she has Down syndrome but nothing's wrong with her!" I cried right then and there!

julie said...

when I've taken Madison to the park down the street from our house there was a bunch of kids Madison's age. It was durring the summer,madison wanted to play with these four little girls and one of them tells her you are ugly and don't have hair!I could'nt believe it. i did'nt even know what to say.I felt so bad but madison still followed them around,wanting to play. What to parents teach there children or should i say what don't they teach them!

Sarah said...

Hey Heather,
I was just stopping in to see how you, Zoey and your fam fam were doing. As I was looking at the pictures and watching the video of Zoey, I couldn't stop thinking about how beautiful she is. How her beauty and strength always shines. I got choked up thinking about how I just don't understand how so many are so blinded to that. Even before Annika came into my life, I saw the beauty in what others claimed as different. then I happen to read what Jake said and what not. its such a hurtful thing to feel, when people shut their hearts of to others because they are perceived as different. especially when the one they are shutting off is someone you love. when the one you love has so much to give and share and because your right, all our souls are equal, each unique, but all equal. So I just wanted to share with you that I see the pure beauty and tremendous love that shines within Zoey, and your whole family. Zoey has already touched so many hearts, even the ones who don't know it yet.. so keep at it you guys, it shows:)
Well its good to see Zoey flourishing, I hope things are well and full of smiles.

Loves and take care-
Sarah from the Ringer Family

Sarah said...

ps. Phil and I are wearing are bracelets proud!! :)

Anonymous said...

Heather - So sorry that sweet Jake had to overhear the cruelities of life. He is such a sweet, sensitive little guy, it's good he spoke even briefly about it. And I must say the other children, learn by example, namely their parents --and shame, shame on them for not teaching them that all of God's children are different and each and every one is a blessed child!

Love to you big brother Jake

Great Aunt Bluebelle

Victoria Strong said...

Oh, Heather! All I can say is what you already know -- your son will be a better person because Zoey is in his life. Keep doing what you are doing -- being a great role model, a loving mother, and an open-minded person!!! It makes a difference!

Anonymous said...

It's sad that to be different is a tragedy instead of a reminder that we are all made different. My daughter is anorexic, and we get the same thing. My heart breaks as a mother who knows her child and what demons she is fighting every day just to stay in this world. And to see others who whisper or break stride just to stare makes me so sad. No one knows what she struggles with each day. She is a gift to her family and we surround her with all our support and love. Zoey is so lucky to have a family that does the same.
Paula

Rhea said...

Kids can be so hurtful. My cousin who was 7 when his dad committed suicide was teased endlessly. It broke his heart!
Zoey is beautiful! I know that you are so proud and honored to have her. Thank you again for sharing your journey with us. I feel honored to know Zoey through your blog and so do all my kids. They think that she is the sweetest.
Blessings,

wvamom said...

It is so hurtful when one of our precious kids has to hear some careless remark about them, for something they can't even help. I remember a little girl saying things about our son who has ds when he was a baby--her mom was one of my closest friends--I thought she probably heard that from her. I just had to educate her, which was simple, then work on forgiving and not holding it against her, which was harder.

My mom says, God never brings two people together for the benefit of just one. I hope you were able to benefit the girl who was so rude, by teaching her--any benefit to you, I guess, you may have to search out.

By the way, I know Zoey is beautiful, inside and out, just like her mother. Your blog really blesses me.


Carolyn

Kele said...

Wow! I am a little behind on my blogs, haven't been on in over a week... sorry I missed this one, or maybe not. Kinda breaks my heart, I know about the looks, I know it all to well... I dread the day Mikah and Jett are perhaps hurt by the ugliness and 'the looks', it just makes my heart break to even think about it. Hugs to you guys and an extra big one for Jake.

Anna said...

thank you for posting this.....
very real.