I remember the first time I looked at Timothy. He was absolutely perfect. Here we had this 5 1/2 pound, absolutely adorable bundle of joy. 10 fingers, 10 toes, gorgeous eyes and the hair of an old man. We were smitten.
Look at that perfect tiny old man <3 Image by: Given Ideas Visual Productions
Stigma: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
Stigma can lie behind many situations. Mental Health, Physical Looks, Clothing Choices, Skin Colour and so much more. Physical Disabilities/Differences seems to also be a big one, which for us, is the one that makes people run, and it all happened in the blink of an eye.
It just takes a split second.
Just a brief recap for those of you who don’t really know us. September 1, 2016 Timothy was badly burned in a household accident. Our entire world shattered. We battled through a 2 month hospital stay, rehab, doctors visits, nurses, physio and so much more. The first 6 or so months after the accident are a strange combination of being a total blur and remembering every painful detail. I will write more about all those as time passes.
We are now nearly 1 1/2 years post-accident and have proudly put a checkmark behind surviving the crisis period. Now, we are in what feels like a chronic state of, something. Managing? Moving on? We still deal with surgeon follow ups, Physio follow ups, at-home rehab, the tears, itching, frustration, guilt for feeling like I should have done a better job. The memories surrounding everything, the unknown of what’s to come. We still deal with, people.
We’re hurting, but not Blind.
We see you. Staring, whispering, putting hand sanitizer on your child after she stood next to mine while she is all confused about what’s going on and you simply tell her “it’s for your own safety”, all while glaring at my innocent nearly 3 year old son. Do you think we would take our Child out our front door if it wasn’t physically safe for him? Do you know that you are making it emotionally unsafe for him? That you are raising your Children to make kids with differences feel ashamed of themselves?
I get it, it doesn’t make sense.
I understand that looking at my child you don’t understand what is going on. What has happened. That’s okay. I don’t expect you to know. How could you? You haven’t been there, which, again, is perfectly okay and much preferred. Scars can look strange. I won’t disagree with that. I also understand that they may make you uncomfortable. Put yourself into Timothy’s shoes. The slight discomfort you experience not know what to do is nothing compared to the agony he’s gone through, and to be totally honest, making him feel ashamed of his scars are continuing that agony. Harsh? Maybe. True. Yes.
He knows he is different.
He’s turning 4 in May. He understands. He knows what his scars are from, and that they make him different. I remember when he first met someone else who had scars, wore a silicone patch. He was fascinated and I truly believe he understood he was not alone. The first time he met his scar buddy, they instantly connected. At 3 and 4, they saw their similarities which are differences everywhere else and embraced them. It was beautiful.
I know he’s different. He knows he’s different. You know he’s different. The difference? We see him for who he is. We can see past the scars. Can you?
Stand Against Stigma.
There is a Stigma behind kids with Scars. And it burns. Not a very funny pun, but it really does, it hurts. Right now it hurts me more than Timothy, because I see it, while he is busy being beautifully innocent, as he should be. Please don’t rob him, or other kids with scars of that innocence. They have already endured so much, and have a whole lifetime ahead of them, which yes, will include dealing with their scars. Some Childrens scars are more visible than others. I believe it’s a miracle that Timothy’s face was spared from his accident, it healed perfectly. Late Fall, Winter and Early Spring is gentle on him, as he can wear long sleeves and pants. He also still wears a full body compression suit. However, that shell won’t be there forever. I’m scared for warmer weather, as much as I enjoy it, it also means he is more exposed. I know I can’t hide him in a bubble, but it’s scary.
Did you know that you can ask? It’s perfectly alright for most parents if you ask them about their Childs scars. I know I don’t mind. That is a much preferred response and gives the opportunity to teach about Kitchen Safety as well. Encourage your Children to ask questions rather than pulling them away or letting them know they shouldn’t say anything at all about it. Your Child could have a Timothy in his/her class once they’re in school. I can almost guarantee that your child will have a classmate that has Physical differences.
Please do the right thing.
Please. I am now begging you. Have a change of heart. Don’t be afraid. Scars don’t bite. They’re not contagious. Teach your children to be accepting. Show your children acceptance. Take the Stigma away from Kids with Scars because they have hurt enough. I am terrified that Timothy will come home one day, having been made fun of for his scars. They are nothing to be made fun of, to be stared at. He’s a survivor. You know who a burn survivors parent will blame for your childs behaviour? You. Harsh again, but it’s true. Your child will never learn to be understanding and accepting of all the Timothy’s out there if you do not teach them and show them how it’s done.
See that happy, beautiful, innocent 3 year old below? Don’t steal his smile, or any other childs who has Scars. I’m begging you. Stand Against Stigma.
Shirt: Wire and Honey
Pants: Rustic Pickle
Shoes: Classy Cassie Collections
Disclaimer: We feel so honoured to be raising awareness against Stigma along side Sarah, owner of Wire and Honey, who graciously provided us with this shirt and gave us the courage to speak up for all those brave warriors.