We were driving along on a back country road, on our way to a friend’s house, when it finally came.
Connor piped up from a quiet back seat as we listened to the country music on the radio.
“Remember when that person didn’t know that Brenna has special skin?”
I stalled. I didn’t expect it. And so I took my time trying to decide how to respond.
“Which person?” I asked him.
“I don’t know,” was the reply.
“Yes,” I said carefully. “Sometimes we just need to tell people when they don’t know, don’t we?”
And then, from the other side of the car…
Brenna exclaimed the words, and with her left hand, she pointed to her right arm and rubbed her finger along the crook of her elbow. “Special skin,” she repeated.
Yes, special skin.
I feel like I’ve been found out.
It was inevitable, but still. It hurts. It hurts to know that so many people have asked about Brenna’s skin or commented on Brenna’s skin that both kids have heard us explain her “special skin” so much, they now know this phrase without anyone bringing it up.
Truth be told, I want to shield them from this forever. Because right now, it is simply “special skin.”
But it won’t stay like that.
It will eventually morph into noticing those kids staring or hearing “what’s wrong with your sister?” It will eventually become rude comments or maybe even games in which the other school kids try not to touch her skin.
And the responsibility of teaching both Connor and Brenna how to react or respond to these situations feels so daunting sometimes.
As their mother, sometimes I feel so completely stuck between the protective mama bear that wants to jump all over everyone who gives her a funny look, and wanting to model the best way to respond to public reaction. Exemplify confidence, self-assurance, and even kindness. (Sometimes even to the rude people…darn that whole ‘setting an example’ thing.) And it can be hard to figure out what to teach as the best way to respond in each new and unique situation, with each new and unique question, when I’m still trying to figure it out myself.
So we take it one step at a time, trying to prepare without letting it invade our very full and happy lives.And I hope that we can help people see that this “special skin” is only one part of our lives, and if they don’t let it obstruct their full view, there is a lot more to our story.
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