Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why Do They Stare and Do I Care?

I'm going to start this post by admitting that I, Jamie Renee Freeman, have never, EVER shied away from attention.  EVER.  I did theatre and some other acting for most of my life and loved the spotlight more than I sometimes care to admit.  Sigh...  We all have our flaws, right? :)

This being said, I don't always know how I feel about attention aimed at Benny.  On one hand my proud Mama self thinks, "YES, my baby is adorable and I know it!!!"  Then there's that other hand...the less optimistic hand....that thinks, "Are you staring because you think there's something up with him?".

Saturday, my husband and I took Ben to Panera for lunch while we were out.  For those of you that have met Benny in person, you know that he is just one happy dude.  He is VERY happy, but not necessarily quiet.  He draws a LOT of attention!  Anyhow, we were sitting smack dab in the middle of Panera eating our lunch.  Ben was happily making noises here and there squealing and giggling, but mostly just allowing Mama to stuff his face.  Boy likes to eat, and he was a BIG fan of the turkey chili!  All the time we were there, I just couldn't help but notice the massive amount of people that would just stare at him.  Like, REALLY stare, for a long period of time, and keep looking back again and again.

It all started when we first got there and I took him to the bathroom.  There was one lady we passed that did a double take on us as we walked by her.  That one kind of caught my attention, but I didn't really think too much of it.

Then, on our way back from the bathroom, she was staring again.  She continued to stare off an on at us throughout the entire time she was there.  We outlasted just about everyone, as Ben takes an extremely long time to eat now that we are in the world of big boy food.

Throughout the course of our lunch, there were many folks staring.  There were too little elder ladies that would stare, talk, stare again.  A mom with her kids just in front of me would look, smile, look away, then look again.  Two other families that came in and left that were kiddie corner to us that kept staring and smiling...you get the drift.

My immediate feeling when I see people staring is pride.  I see people staring and smiling at Ben, and my chest wells up with Mama pride because I just KNOW they are staring because he's the cutest thing in there.  I just KNOW they are getting a kick out of him smiling at me during his wide open-mouthed chewing as I open and close my mouth saying, "CHEW CHEW CHEW BENNY!".  I just KNOW that when he claps after every bite they are melting just like I do at the sheer adorableness that is my son.

I just KNOW!  I just...know.  I just... I....  I don't know...

Then the doubt creeps in.  "Are they staring at Benny because he's cute?  Do all babies get stared at like this?  They've been staring a LONG time!  They're staring because he's different aren't they? They are staring because they know something is different, and they perhaps can't quite put their finger on what."

This is what happens in my mind.  I don't know why.  I REALLY don't.

However, here's the funny thing.  I don't care.  I REALLY don't.  If that's why they are staring, then stare away!  Whatever...go on with your bad selves!  Don't get me wrong... I notice.  I note it in my head, but then I simply move on.  I need to be aware of things for Benny, but at the same time I just plain ol' don't give a crap.

The truth is, that regardless of why they are looking, they are looking at Ben.  They are looking at Ben because he has captured their attention with his magnetic personality.  They are looking at Ben and they are seeing a healthy, happy, BEAUTIFUL baby boy!  They are seeing a happy family eating lunch with that beautiful baby boy.  They are seeing a very important truth that I hope to one day show to the whole world.  That truth is that Benny is the best damn thing that could have ever happened to Mark and I.  The truth is that Down syndrome is not a curse.  It is not a burden.  It is NOT the end of your lives.  Most of all, it is definitely not a situation that requires any type of pity.

So, if you were in Panera the other day and saw that happy family eating (loudly) in the middle of the dining area, I hope that Benny put a smile on your face.  If you were trying to figure out if he was different, he most certainly is.  You'd have to be the best kind of different to capture the attention of an entire restaurant and leave most of them walking away happier than when they came in.


  1. I think if I would have been there I would have come up to your table and talked with you and really showed Benny that not all people are rude and really do think that children are children no matter how different they are. People that stare repeatedly and then talk among themselves about what they are seeing are ignorant. God gives certain children to certain people because he knows that you are the best ones for that child. So you go on and be the proud mommy and daddy, he is Gods gift to you, you have been so blessed.

  2. I would've stared... The first thing I saw when I saw the photo of your son is "OMG he's adorable!" I didn't realise he has DS until you said so. Absolutely stunningly cute child :)


Would love to hear your thought, comments, advice, or emotional outbursts!

-xoxo Jamie