Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spreading Acceptance

Last weekend, Peter had an unpleasant social experience when some little twerp said to him, “You look creepy.”  No adults were around to overhear this comment or to help Peter out with handling the situation.  At bedtime when I came in to say goodnight, he broke down in tears and only then told me about the incident.  I have to admit that we were both unprepared for this discussion.  We have fortunately not had situations like this happen in a very long time.  Peter is familiar to everyone at school and in our neighborhood.  When the question of, “What happened to your ear?” inevitably happens, he has always replied with a simple, “I was born this way.  It’s no big deal.”  However, asking “What happened?” vs. saying “You look creepy” are very different remarks.

The incident bothered me for several days.  What upset me was that I didn’t feel prepared to help Peter handle the situation, that I wasn’t able to empower him with advice after he told me the story, and that I had not rehearsed these situations with him in a long time.  After reflecting on it for several days, I came to the conclusion that situations such as this give Peter an opportunity to make a positive difference in the world, that he has the ability to change a person’s perspective for their lifetime.  Now that’s empowering!

With the exception of intentional bullying, most hurtful remarks are made out of ignorance, lack of understanding, and fear of the unknown.  I want Peter to be smart enough and strong enough to dismiss the hurtful part of what someone says and to quickly reply with a firm and strong statement.  It has to be something positive, simple, and easy for him to remember.  Something like, “That’s a mean thing to say.  I don’t see what is so creepy about missing an ear.”  I want to practice with Peter until he is able to confidently reply in any stressful situation.  I want his speech to be very clear and firm, and I want him to look the person right in the eye when he says it.  I don’t want Peter to be rude, but I also don’t want him to turn away, look down, or ignore the comment.

As we read in Erica’s blog last week, the comments and stares never really go away when you live with a craniofacial difference.  As Peter’s Mom, I feel compelled to come up with ways to help him have “Grace Under Fire.”  Our craniofacial community needs to create tools that help spread acceptance, especially with those one-on-one encounters.  So, I am asking for your help in the form of a contest. 

Please submit your best comeback for, “You look creepy.”   I am looking for a simple, positive, and educational remark.  Submissions need to be made either on the CCA Kids Blog Facebook page or here at  We will accept your comments for one week  (until May 20th) and then Peter will select his favorite.  The winner will be announced on the CCA Kids Blog website on Monday, May 21st and will receive a $25 Amazon gift card from Peter!

Together we can make the world a more accepting place for our children.  Happy Mother’s Day!


  1. I'm sharing this blog with my aunt. She been my 2nd advocate for me and my TCS. She also been contribute to the CCA. She great with words. I will let you know what she said. I had CPR class yesterday to renew my certification. I came in the room on the dot! 11am I said Hello with a smile on my face. I guess you can be stuck with room full of uneducated or/and unhappy people and/or be at the wrong place and time. I felt all eyes with on me and I know they were not trying to scare. I try do small talk but I think they just didn't want to give me a chance or they stuck up and rude. I think I was the oldest one there. They were all got to be at least 10 years younger than me. They do seem to have that HS attitude.

    I know the TONE, how you say it sometimes bother me the most than what you said. But yeah, you creepy. That is mean and intentional. But "Why do you ears look like that or your eyes?" I try not get defensive right away. They might be curious. They don't know how to ask. This might be their first situation. I try to use unexpected stare, comment etc as opportunity to educated them instead of lowing myself to their level.

    How was your night out? Happy Mother's Day!!

  2. Statement- You look creepy
    Response- Creepy makes me think of ghosts or zombies (scary things). Missing an ear isnt scary at all. Because Im different than you doesnt make me creepy. We're all different and thats ok!
    Heather Compton- Jeffersonville IN

  3. "I look creepy? Huh. What I know is that I have a good heart and I wouldn't dream of saying something so ugly to another person."

  4. People that hurt others the most are the people that are hurting the most
    Debra H
    Louuisville, KY
    related to the famous "more skees please"

  5. So in the past week I also have struggled with this very topic.
    On one occasion, a little girl about 3 years old asked me, "Why does his face look like that?" as she was trying to hold his hand and take him onto the playset at the park. Her remarks were completely innocent and to which I replied something to the effect of nothing is wrong with his face, he is just a little boy that looks a little different, and I told her how nice he is and he loves to sing...
    Yesterday, three much older boys were making comments like, "Hey look at that kid's face," and the crowd of kids got larger as the interest spread on the playground." With no parents in sight I chose to ignore these boys, because some parents get touchy if you correct their kids especially when they are not around. I did however give a very disapproving look.

    So, Peter, I am so sorry that you haveto deal with this. And I would love to give you a few zingers to throw back in that boys face, but I will refrain from doing so.

    You are so lucky to have such a wonderful mom that is helping you through all of this. Please just remember how loved you are and how much support you have.

    Here is the best that I can come up with when someone says something awful to you.... then you say,
    "I am sorry that you feel the need to TRY and make me feel bad about myself." and then just walk away.

    Also, I feel that education in schools, by parents, and by community support groups should be on going as a preventative measure.

    April Morealli, mother of Jackson age 2 with Apert's

  6. I grew up with a vascular malformation that was huge on my face. I dealt with the very same thing until I was 21 and had it removed. To be honest, as the kid in the situation dealing with it, the love and support and acceptance I had from my family and friends really made the tactless, rude, and down right cruel people inaudable. Doesn't mean it didn't sometimes hurt to the core, but after a couple kisses from mom and day, a lick from the family pooch and I knew I was going to be ok. That although I might have an issue beyond my control, that the people making fun of me were really the ones with a much larger problem, one that made them much worse off than myself. I would love to spread more awareness about this issue. I love this piece and would like to share it with HER

  7. Creepy, NO. One in a million, YES! I like to think of myself as unique, you aren't going to find another kid like me for ???? Miles.

  8. My response would be: Define creepy for me please? Because I dont see anyone crawling here. I may look different but then again, you kinda look different too!

  9. I am not creepy, I am just unique-y and so are you. Just like birthday presents and snowflakes, not one will ever look like the other. What a wonderful world.....

  10. I really love all the suggestions here. Everyone has a different way to handle these times. I know for me, it is often the worst when I'm at a work function or social networking event and I need to remain on an equal level with my peers, to convey confidence and professionalism. It is unnerving to some people unaccustomed to differences and they act odd towards you, like they don't know how to take what you're saying. The need to seem professional and hip is very present in the "career world."

    In that light, I wanted to say I love Heather Compton's response! I actually think I could use it as a young adult, because sometimes I need to add some assertiveness to my demeanor.

    I could say, "Creepy? Okay, GhostHunters. It is just a bone formation difference. I was born with it." And just move the conversation along with a redirect. "So, how are you involved with X event?"

  11. I have a line I have used on the, thankfully, very few encounters we have had with Avery. Curiousity is acceptable, but rudeness is not. Maybe he could try a spin off such as, "If you're going to be mean, then don't talk to me. If you have a question, ask me."



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