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Journal zedmelon's Journal: OMG SHUT UP! 11

This morning we had breakfast and bought dog food. When we arrived at the checkout counter, the girl who helped us had a--forgive me if there is a more politically correct term--lazy eye.

Zed Junior, who is 23 months old, saw her and said "EYE!." He's not capable of producing many sentences beyond two or three words yet, and for more than one, it's got to be a more familiar subject. In an attempt to redirect, Zedette looked down at the packet of birthday cards in Junior's hand and said, "Yes, that's Shrek's eye."

I wasn't looking directly at my son, but peripheral vision told me he was watching where the cart was going, not his hands; I'm 99.3% certain he was not looking at the card when he said that. Of course, the girl ignored it (hopefully didn't hear it, but that's also very doubtful given Junior's vocal volume).

This is partially a rant, but more of a cry for help and advice (rdewald, if you've had kids at this age, I'm eager to feel your wisdom here)

  • Parents: What should I do? I'm a first-time dad. I've anticipated many scenarios, formulated a plan for some of them, but I'm lost here. What do you tell someone who doesn't grasp the concepts of sensitivity and discretion and won't for some time? Especially when you generally encourage that someone to absorb all he can from his surroundings and develop his ability to express what he thinks? What sort of things/distractions/prevention/etc have worked for you veterans out there?
  • My impression is that people who have visible differences generally would like to be treated normally, but I have no firsthand experience, so I might be wrong. Is ignoring such bursts of observation appropriate? Is an apology the best approach? I'm a pretty discipline-oriented dad, and I don't tolerate public tantrums, but this isn't something I can tell him is wrong (at least not this young), and I'm not even sure it *is* wrong, aside from the discomfort on the part of the girl whose eye he noticed. What sort of response intrudes the least?
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  • Well, from my experience "different" people aren't stupid -- they know they're different. It's the "normal" people who are uncomfortable with their differences. One of the wonderful things about children is that they haven't learned to employ the pretense of acting like nothing's "wrong."

    When my daughter (the elder, 'cause the younger ain't talkin' yet) notices "different" people, I quietly acknowledge her observation. That's all. No need to explain or apologize.

    If it's in a situation like yours, when t
    • Yes, bethanie and richard are on the money here. We try to be as nonplussed and indifferent to "different" people. Our kids are brought up like I was. We're all people. We all deserve respect.

      But you might want to be a little more on the ball next time and start singing when your kid yells out "EYE!" "...'m looking over, a four leaf clover, that I overlooked befoooooore!!!!"

      Sorry. That's about the first thing I thought of after the "respect" stuff. :)

    • It's the "normal" people who are uncomfortable with their differences. One of the wonderful things about children is that they haven't learned to employ the pretense of acting like nothing's "wrong."

      True. Beautiful until it catches you off guard.

      commit the gaffe of using the somewhat derogatory term of "lazy eye," which I assume was your greatest concern.

      Good point, but actually my biggest concern was not making the girl

      more uncomfortable. I know that I can't keep my small child from saying anything

      • It took me YEARS to learn to act appropriately and grow out of it (and of course shake the stigma of being the dorky, bossy, wimpy crybaby).

        You've grown out of it?!? Can you share your secrets? :-)

        And for the record, I'm poking at myself, not you. I've gotten over most of the wimpy crybaby, but I'm still very bossy and occasionally (or more frequently, depending whether you ask my wife) dorky.

        • Heh. Yeah, I'm still pretty dorky too. Im not really sure if you're serious, so I'll elaborate. If nothing else, it's a glimpse into my psyche.

          At seven, I was still convinced that my Grandma was right. Ergo, I was a genius, had the best ideas in the world, and much like the portayal of Mozart in Amadeus, I couldn't comprehend why anyone could even begin to see it another way. Too many notes.

          By the time I got to older schools, I was already in the habit of defending my thoughts before anyone challen

  • I haven't had kids, but I have been a person with a freakish enough appearance (massive obesity) that kids Zed Jr's age have barked out similar expressions of astonishment. Bethanie has it right, I just want to add what I can.

    Ms. Lazy Eye probably heard Zed Jr and despite Zeddette's skillful misdirection, she probably suspected the comment was directed at her. My reactions in the context have run the gamut. I have left restaurants in tears (without eating) because children have commented on my appearanc
    • Richard's post has made me want to clarify that the gentle acknowledgement works just in cases of observation. If my child EVER made any kind of derogatory comment about someone, repercussions would be immediate and severe.

      Yes, Richard, a personal apology would be in order. At the very least. My child should be subjected to at least as much embarassment and discomfort as she causes someone else. That's just inexcusable.

      But I would be absolutely shocked if a child of mine said anything intentionally der
      • I may have not been clear. I don't consider "Mommy, why is that man so fat?" to be a derogatory comment. I have only very rarely actually been the object of abject ridicule from young children, more often what I hear, like in Zed Jr's case, is an expression of wonder.
        • I deeply appreciate it when parents take the time to discuss the inappropriateness of the outburst with their children at the time that it happens...because I am assured that the parents are at least trying...

          I agree. And of course that's the main goal.

          ...I also prefer it when the correction/instruction is given in a private moment, out of my ear/eye sight

          I'm wondering how the correction ("at the time that it happens") could reassure you if you didn't witness it somehow; is it just seeing the parent p

  • Or you can just ignore it. Like when little kids learn to say "fuck". Trying to get them to say "duck" or "truck" won't work - all it does is reinforce the behaviour - "gee, look how, when I say THIS word, the grown-ups freak out! I'll do it again. And again. And again."

    Benign neglect. It works.

    It also allows the target of the comment to not respond, because you didn't, and we can now all behave like adults and act like it was of no consequence - which, in a perfect world, it isn't.

    Also, by not respondin

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI