Monday, September 19, 2011
Hurtful Words of a Five-Year Old
We spent our day yesterday at the breathtaking Pico De Loro Cove which was South of Manila with hub’s family. Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu Batangas was a perfect getaway for the family and the kids. The weather was simply perfect and it was the first time that Janina did not have to worry about staying cold-free for any pending surgery so she finally got to swim as much as she wanted to. This was her first time to actually swim (outside the kiddie pool we have at home) so it was a big day for her.
She was hesitant at first to get into the pool (yes, it’s a beach cove but they have swimming pools at the side as well) because the water was a bit chilly. Eventually, she got used to the temperature and began splashing and shouting all around. She didn’t mind getting water all over her face; in fact, I was the one who kept wiping my face because water kept getting into my eyes.
As Nina and I were playing in the water, it happened. Something that I had dreaded about ever since Janina came into our lives. A little boy, about 5 years old came up to us and said to me: “Bakit ang pangit nung baby?” (Why is that baby ugly?). I was stunned and had to ask him to say it again to make sure I heard it correctly.
After he repeated his question (apparently, he found nothing wrong with it), I had to fight the urge to put the kid’s head underwater or to even show him what ugly really was. But since he was just a child, I had to be nice. I told him in my kindest voice (and trying not to be condescending) that Janina merely looked different in the same way that he looked different as well. The parents were no were near us so I was sure they didn’t hear him say that. My response seemed satisfy him because he didn’t ask any more questions. Besides, I simply turned Janina away and began playing with her just as we did before the nasty comment was given. At the back of my head, I wanted to tell him he looked like a pig ready to be grilled at the Club’s restaurant and that I kinda spotted the head chef coming out of the kitchen looking for him and that he better run and hide. Thank God I was deep in cold water because my face was growing hot. Even minutes after, my mind was spinning with all the other possible answers I wanted to give just to get back at those hurtful words– the best of which was: “Honey, she isn’t ugly, you are the ugly one!” Ooh, the joy of seeing this mean boy’s face change with that winning remark!
I looked at my daughter and was extremely grateful that because of her developmental delays, she had most likely not understood what the little boy said. I stared at her face, which to others may seem odd, and realized that this would not be the first time that we would encounter this. I’m sure there would be other children or even adults who would be unable to see beyond the physical appearance and simply blurt out unfeeling comments. I felt sad for the little boy and worried for my little girl. To us, she is the prettiest girl ever and I don’t want other people to shatter her world with cruel statements like that. I have to admit that Janina does look very different from children her age, her head appears bigger and her eyes are not deep-set like most kids. But she has a smile can take your breath away, her laughter will make you smile and those eyes, though bulging, shine with so much happiness and zest for life. Unfortunately for the little boy, he didn’t see any of these.
I know I could have handled the situation much better. Every time the little boy would come near us, I’d try to shield Janina away from him, hoping he wouldn’t see her hands as well because if he made another comment, I might not be able to contain myself from giving out a nasty remark. Maybe next time, I’ll have the presence of mind to respond in a way that would teach them about children with special needs and how they are not so different from everyone else. Hopefully so. But then again, I also wish there would not have to be a next time.