Most of the time I wear sunglasses to the park...even when it's not sunny out.
My boys love to be outdoors and any place that has things to climb, slide down or swing on is an extra bonus. Not to mention that it's another place they can hone their social skills (example, "Hi I'm Ethan, want to play?") Ethan and Aiden are very sociable kids, one of the qualities they've picked up from two very sociable parents. However going to the park is also a place where I too am forced to work on my own social skills - the ones you don't learn about in Public Speaking 101 or at sorority parties. The ones that have to do with addressing your child's differences.
I have no problem talking about Aiden in casual settings. The issue is, most people don't know how to broach the subject, so it gets ignored. I'm okay with that, but it does make me feel a bit uncomfortable. There is no easy way of knowing how to bring up your child's differences with a complete stranger - no way of knowing if it is a subject they are comfortable speaking about, especially since you don't know if and how they've ever talked with their own child about others who may look different.
So I often find myself "on guard", hiding behind sunglasses so I can safely scan the room for other's stares directed at my son. When I catch someone looking, it's like a dagger to my heart. I just want to scream - let me tell you about him so you don't have to wonder. But that's not always appropriate or easy to do.
After I wrote this post on my personal blog about a positive experience I had out in public, I began thinking about how I could ease the tension of social situations when I don't know what to say or how to say it? My grandmother, who recently passed away, was always full of wisdom and she emailed me a suggestion after she read that post. This is what she said: