A couple of days ago Amie and I were having some milk and coffee (respectively) in a coffee shop when she spotted the large lump on the back of the head of the man sitting right behind her. I had seen it long before she did and was hoping she wouldn’t turn around because I dreaded what I knew would follow:
- Mama! Look at that man’s head!
The poor man was sitting not two feet away, but he was chatting with someone else, and if he heard her he didn’t show it. My own reaction (freeze!) must not have been satisfactory for Amie because she was about to repeat it, but then I put my finger to my lips and she stopped.
Then I took her out of the cafe and sat her down somewhere and explained:
- Mieke, when you see someone who looks a strange, just different than you and me, someone with a strange face, or a different kind of body, you shouldn’t say anything about it, okay? It might hurt their feelings if you remark on it, or if you stare.
She thought on it a bit and agreed, and we decided to make that a rule, the Grumble Rule, or Bumble Rule, I forgot precisely its name, and it changes anyway.
Today at the Farmer’s Market we had a test run. A lady came hobbling by, very slowly, resting on a cane. Amie stared at her, then said:
- I guess she must be really old.
Oh, well. Sigh. At least she said it quietly, to herself. I immediately said:
- Grumble Rule!
And she understood, and nodded, and held her finger to her lips.
Of course this can’t be the end of her lesson on how to deal with differentness, what is different, and what is normal, and what that means. But it’s a start.