Laylee loves to watch people and occasionally to make observations about them. She’s getting better about gawking and making hurtful comments but sometimes she can. not. control. herself. With Seattle Children’s Hospital as her playground today, there were just too many amazing and mystifying people to see and she could not be restrained from filling me in, sometimes loudly, on all the sights.
We started out the day with a long rush-hour drive into town. The first thing she noticed was how mad and mean the car ahead of us looked. With its flat-line unibrow and squinty eyes Laylee commented that it was “about the meanest car” she’d ever seen.
“Yes,” I said, “It does not look happy.”
I wonder if the car was just mad to be up before the sun had fully risen. Because I can imagine how it might feel that way.
In the hospital parking lot we saw THE SHORTEST MOMMY Laylee had ever seen! Fully formed and looking in every way exactly like a million other mommies Laylee had seen in the past, the one thing that set her apart was that she was shorter than Laylee, probably about 3 feet tall. I mean. What will they think of NEXT?! It was truly remarkable. And Laylee certainly remarked.
She wanted to know why she was so short. I told her that people come in all shapes and sizes and Laylee thought that was SO COOL. The woman didn’t seem at all offended and I smile on her head for that. I’m sure Laylee’s not the first curious kid to cross her path.
In the bathroom I told Laylee not to use the handicapped stall in case someone with a wheelchair came in who needed it more than we did. As we were washing our hands, a young woman walked in and went straight for the oversized stall. Laylee’s mouth fell open, “But MOM! I thought you just said we shouldn’t use the big stall so people with a wheelchair could have it to be polite. And then that girl went in there with nuthin’!”
I mumbled something about how everyone gets to decide for herself what she’ll do and scooted out of the bathroom. Into the hall. Where a young cancer patient was walking by. WITH NO HAIR.
“Mom! That girl has NO HAIR!”
“I know Laylee.”
As we walked away I explained how some people can get sick, so sick that the medicine they take to kill the sickness can actually kill their hair too and make it fall out. I told her it was very serious and that it happened to my aunt once. She didn’t ask if the medicine made my aunt better after it claimed her hair. I didn’t volunteer that information.
I hope that by calmly explaining things to Laylee she will learn that although various circumstances in life may cause us to look or act differently, inside we’re all just people and we all want others to treat us well. I’ve also explained, tearfully in fact, that sometimes it hurts people’s feelings to have their physical differences pointed out. This came about one afternoon when Laylee was taking great pains to explain to me just how amazed she was by the ever-growing jiggle around my midsection. Yeah. Some things, although fascinating, are better left unsaid.
For the most part, people were pretty understanding of her 5-year-old observational skills today. In fact, the only person who seemed annoyed was the driver of a recently wrecked vehicle who parked next to us with his windows rolled down. “Wow!” Laylee exclaimed, “Do you see that totally smashed-in car?!”
Yep. I saw it. But in this case it seemed that the driver was even more mad and mean than the car itself.