Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Those Eyes...Again!


So....I'm needing my blogging family and friends to help me out a bit. Am I being overly sensitive? I think so...

I've noticed lately that I'm a bit more sensitive when people strike a "funny" face for photos and more often than not people love to cross their eyes and stick out their tongue to make this face. I realize lately that the face is somewhat the face of a person with Down syndrome or any other brain injured person. Joaquin obviously has a strabismus so his eyes are crossed most of the time and occasionally his tongue rests on his lower lip when he is overly tired or relaxed.

I realize people...adults and children...mean absolutely no harm in making this face but when I see the crossed eyes I just cringe a tiny bit thinking they are making fun of themselves and looking "silly" or "dumb" but they are doing this by making their face resemble the face of someone with a strabismus. Do you think this goes back to the whole "retard" thing....looking and acting "retarded" to poke fun at oneself.

Just a random thought for the day. Silly I know but just sharing some of the thoughts that I have. It's not like I expect people to stop crossing their eyes when they make a face for the camera or for fun, it's not that. It's just I wonder where that ever came from or started from.  I've grown to love and adore my boy's little crossed eyes but yes, we will be doing the surgery to straighten them later this year and we'll see how successful the surgery is for cosmetic and medical reasons. Will having straight eyes help Joaquin to be more mainstreamed and less made fun of in the future? I don't know. Will it help people see beyond his disability if he doesn't "appear" to have DS or doesn't have the strabismus? I don't know. Does it bother me? I don't know. Will this bother Joaquin someday? I don't know.

I think I'm just having one of those overly sensitive days. I'll get over it...

17 comments:

vernyvern said...

I've been feeling the same way lately. My 4 mo. old has DS & I have noticed things like that, too. Your thoughts are valid & I am with you. Thanks for sharing.

http://secondtimearound-vernyvern.blogspot.com/

Talley Images said...

I dont see this at all... as a photographer, I take pics of kids all the time - even from a small age (where they have no idea of the concept of making fun of someone else) - they will do this...

Think about it this way... say you were asked to make a silly face - using only your face.... your eyes and mouth/tongue are really the only things you can control, right? well, what the easiest thing to do with your eyes - cross them, and your mouth? stick out your tongue... ahhh, also, sticking out your tongue is also a (almost universal) gesture that means you dont want your picture taken

just my two cents... :)

Bulldogma said...

I think we all have our sensitive days, and I can understand where you're coming from. Personally, I don't have an issue with "funny faces." In fact, I often make funny faces at my kids to get them to laugh. My daughter with Down syndrome gets the crazy-giggles when I do it. I've never associated it with anything more than a goofy contortion of the face. Some of my faces look like the Wicked Witch of the West and some of them make me look like a frog... but I have never associated funny faces with the beautiful faces of our chromosomally enhanced children. That's just me. I can not say what goes through the heads of others and as with everything, there will always be those who are just hateful and ignorant for no particular reason at all.

sheree said...

Oh, mama. It's so hard not to take these things personally. I wish I had an answer...Are they poking fun at people with disabilities? I don't necessarily think so. Still, it doesn't make it anymore right than when people say "but when I use the "R" word, I don't mean it like *that.* It still hurts and people just don't think.

We just need time...Time for our skin to thicken.

Love you.

Monica said...

Hi Jen, I hope my photo of Greta and JM didn't prompt your feelings! It's OK to feel sensitive, we all have our triggers. Mine is when people outright mimic someone with a disability or use the R word. My thought with a silly face is that it's an exaggerated expression and just being "silly" or funny rather than trying to look "dumb" and nothing more. Again, I hope we didn't hurt your feelings! HUGS!

Mel said...

There are no easy answers and I think we all feel overly sensitive at times. There are pros and cons for having the 'look' of Ds. At least people know what they are dealing with, and our kids are extra cute :) I'd be fixing the eyes too- can't be that comfortable for Joaquin. You have a gorgeous boy.

Denise said...

If it bothers you, it bothers you. Doesn't mean you are being overly sensitive. There are a lot of things that we have all looked at differently since having our children with Ds. I believe that it is all a part of our lifelong education.

Lisa said...

Jen, I know exactly, where you're coming from. I have the same feelings. I find myself cringing even when my kids make silly faces. And I KNOW that they're not making fun of Finn or anyone else for that matter, just being silly.

Obviously, having children like Finn and Joaquin have made us more aware and more sensitive. I'm not sure what to do with these feelings. In some instances, I think these feelings can be used to advocate, which is a positive thing. But sometimes feelings are just feelings, and they're neither good nor bad, and perhaps not even useful in any way, just a heightened awareness of things, you know?

I don't have any answers for you, but I wanted you to know that I do understand.

Jennie said...

My oldest, Nathan, went through a stage where he was making goofy faces, including sticking out his tongue and flailing his arms about. It made me sick to my stomach, but I knew he'd outgrow it so I didn't bother saying anything. I seriously have no idea where he learned it (camp this summer?). He would say, "Mommy, laugh... I'm being silly." Ugh. Not sure what to tell you. We have a lot of educating to do.

Cory said...

I am not as sensative to the whole "funny face" thing as I am to the short bus comments, the slang use of the word retarded, or people hitting themselves in the chest with their wrist in an effort to look handicapped as a joke. My "typical" child is in first grade, and has just recently started coming home and telling me "look mom, I can cross my eyes, and do the taco tongue at the same time". For her it is a silly thing to do, and she is not conjuring up in her mind a person with disabilities and making fun of them. It is understandable that because you love your child you are sensative to what might hurt his feelings. We are all like that. I am sensative to people talking about overweight people. I am overweight, yet I have people (friends) who will discuss another person who is overweight in a very negative way right in front of me and I'm thinking "hello, fat person here" but they aren't thinking that (I believe). Instead they are not even paying attention to my roundness because they love me. (Not that I appriciate the tone of the negative conversation either) But... I feel like I am rambling. Someone will always find a reason to make fun of someone else no matter what is my point. It doesn't make it right. And if your son can be helped that is great, and if it doesn't work to make him look a certain way there will still be people to love him and accept him just for the way he is crossed eyes, tongue out, whatever. He is Gods child. :-) {{HUGS}}

The Hapa Girl said...

Jennifer, I think it about it sometimes. It often hits me when we are sitting and reading or watching a show together and she gets this look...not sure how to explain it. But it's this look where her head is tilted back a little. But it quickly goes away.

heather said...

My kids still think it's funny to do that in pictures. And I try to tactfully tell them that that's not the best 'funny face' to do in pictures. We were taking a family picture when Morgan was just a few weeks old and my oldest, 5 years old at the time, crossed his eyes in the pictures. I quickly said, "Quit crossing your eyes. You look retarded!" Then I looked at my sweet little newborn and realized what I was saying. I vowed to never use that word again. Sad that it took me having a child with special needs to realize the hurtful nature of that word.

patsy said...

i know what you mean. i think it is us as momas just trying to protect our sweet babies. i used to love the movie 'multiplicity' with michael keaton before we had miss maggie. i honestly never thought anything about it...until now. the thought of him playing the character where he is a copy of a copy(so he is not so clear i believe they said) with his tongue sticking out and not speaking clearly, well i can now say no one involved with that movie must have ever loved anyone that was delayed in any way. it may not be right but now i do not ever want to see him act in anything! we just love our babies and want to protect them as much as we can for as long as we can :) and the recent pics of sophia and her big brother,too cute!

Cindy said...

I've wondered about this too- enjoyed your post and the replies, thanks for sharing.

Emily said...

You know... I was at dinner with a bunch of friends and family and someone made "that face." I was instantly (and quietly) offended. I know I was probably being more sensitive than necessary. I KNOW my family would NEVER do anything to hurt me or Justin. Some days it just hurts. Loves and hugs my friend...

P said...

I find the word stupid offensive and know there are a lot of better ways to describe our mistakes. I've been trying to avoid describing myself as crazy and a host of other similar "better" character and choice of words that have maybe bothered me some but my heightened awareness adds to that list.

Silly face is a good ways to relax kids. How about silly POSE with arms held high or in different places. I'll start that in my area, baby steps!!

P said...

Or what about fun super happy face to emphasize happiness not different or unique odd features!??