Saturday, October 10, 2015

Oh The Comments

When Scotlyn was born she had high levels of jaundice, so they sent us home with the instruction to place her either in the sun, or in front of windows in the sun. Now, five months later and a diagnosis of Albinism under our belts, a condition that causes the skin to not produce any melanin, we have strict instruction to keep her out of the sun. In fact, she has a whole wardrobe quickly filling up with full-body UV swim suits, hats, sunglasses, and soon a daily dose of head-to-toe sunscreen. I imagine we will get so good at spooning out tablespoons of Banana Boat, and lathering it between each finger and in the crooks of her ears, that it will become as ritual as brushing our teeth.

So, when a lady at the drug store tells me that my baby, is the whitest baby she has ever seen, but will probably be the first teenager out suntanning, I just smile. It doesn't end there of course. She continues on about teenagers and tanning and as I walk away she turns to her friend to share whispers and stares at my fair haired baby. This scenario happens almost every time I am out with Scotlyn, but it's a different store and a different woman. Their comments make me uncomfortable because they bring with them a fear that my daughter will have to grow up hearing how white her skin is and her hair is over and over again. I try not to let my mind play out these situations which may or may never happen, but today I can't help it. Maybe she's on the playground and the little boy wants to know why on the hottest day of the summer she's wearing a long sleeved shirt and sneakers instead of sandals, or maybe she's sixteen and the girl in her class wants to know what she does to get her hair that white. Today she is less than a year and I just want to buy my vitamins and go home. Scotlyn might grow up to have low vision and not always be able to perfectly see you, as is the case with most people with Albinism, but she will always hear you, so I'd like to tell this lady, the little boy at the playground, and girls in her class, to please choose their comments carefully.

What I wished I had known that day is that the next time I would return to that same store, with a pocket full of dread, is that I would indeed be met with more comments. However, this time as I was leaving the store it was the unmistakable tone of an older gentlemen shouting my way, "Hey Miss". When I turn, I recognize him from the card isle where I gave up trying to find the perfect card, trying to balance a basket full of baby items in one hand, and Scotlyn in the other. I had to stop and put everything down, so that I could hold Scotlyn by both arms and let her bounce, her new favorite past time. He continues talking as I strap Scottie into her car seat, half ignoring him, trying to get her out of the sun, "It's so nice to see the love you have for your daughter. I can tell your a good mom, so good job, they don't stay that age for long and I miss mine." The comment took me off guard because it wasn't, of course, what I was expecting to hear and at that moment I realized [it] had happened. The one thing I hear over and over again from parents with children with Albinism. That on this day we were normal, just like any other mother and daughter out buying diaper cream, and leaving without remarks of whiteness, but instead a lasting impression of love.

This post was featured on The Mighty, a website dedicated to spreading love and awareness. Check out the shortened edited article here.

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