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#1 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How do/did you handle people heaping attention on your kids? Actually I am interested in experiences of both positive and negative attention, right now thinking mostly about appearance oriented comments.

We recently had a sort of weird situation happen that I'm still not sure how to handle.

We have a relative who had a baby just a couple months before we had our dd, and her dd is kind of petite compared to ours, and not traditionally baby cute, though very beautiful and so sweet. We were all at a wedding together recently and so much more attention got heaped on our dd, it made me feel awful, I could tell this other mom was getting sort of annoyed, like there was some huge cuteness competition going on. I made a big fuss over her dd and tried to bond with the mom - us sitting together nursing, etc.

I am concerned about how this might affect our dd. OK - odds are, given her parents' looks, her future as the center of attention due to cuteness is probably limited to these few months! But I was shocked at how much looks determine how much cuddling, fussing, etc a kid gets. How do you try to balance out whatever other people say (we have a niece that at 2 is so big that even my relatively PC mom said "wow - how much does she weigh now?" right in front of her - I told her that was awful and she said "she won't know - and besides big isn't bad." yeah right - like she'll get a lot of positive feedback in her life for being big!)
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#2 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 04:36 PM
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Until Iris was 12 mos old she was a real crowd-stopper. I feel like I know what it's like to be a celebrity. I'm totally serious. People stopped me on the street, or were always turning around and pointing, tugging on the friends' sleeves to turn around and look too! I would be waiting for the Metro and people from the train on the other side of the tracks would start to look and point. I found it exhausting. I remember wishing I could be anonymous again.

At that time, if someone actually said something to me directly, I would re-focus the conversation around what a good baby Iris was.

She doesn't get so much attention now, though every woman in my neighborhood seems to know her! Iris has very pretty eyes, a very unusual, deep shade of blue and very long, yet open.

NOW the attention we get has to do with her excellent behaviour. People are amazed at how well she does in restaurants and at family outings.

I think this is much more positive than focusing on her looks. But, like you, I'm not sure how to deal with it once she can understand. She's had little boy admirers ( a 6 year old has been head-over-heels in love with her since she was 10 mo!) for as long as I can remember (she's 20 mo!). I'm afraid it will go to her head, but I think as long as I don't encourage it, she'll be fine. I mean, as long as I teach her that attractiveness has nothing to do with anything important.
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#3 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 05:45 PM
 
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I know what you mean, pina. My dd has very, very large eyes and people are always commenting on them. It made me feel terrible when I would be out with a friend and strangers would pay attention to her and not to my friend's child. Ever notice that people automatically give attention to baby girls for their looks? I would usually introduce the other child, which helped.

Now that dd is 3 (well, she will be in 2 weeks!), I get concerned when she gets too much attention for her looks. I don't want her growing up thinking that her looks are what she is valued for. Fortunately, she is very verbal, bright and outgoing, so even when people comment on her looks it's usually combined with a comment on her language skills or something else of much more value.

BTW, you emailed me a picture of your family and I don't agree that she won't stay cute forever "based on her parents' looks"!!! You both look extremely cute to me!
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#4 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 06:21 PM
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I am frequently told that Jackson is a beautiful child, has soulful eyes, is going to be a real ladykiller, etc. and like Peacemama this bothers me when other children are ignored. It's like when I was small and people would make over my baby sister at the market and my mom would always introduce me so that they felt obliged to at least say hello. I always try to compliment the chubby kid, kid with the glasses, etc because the pretty kids get enough attention and when I do compliment a pretty kid it is usually about pleasant behavior or sense of humor, artistic skills, etc.

I was a pretty kid and am a supermodel now LOL haha and I remember thinking that all people seemed to care about was how curly my hair was, etc.

That said, I always find it amusing when I tell a new mom how cute her newborn is and she is not only unfriendly but looks at me like I am about to try to eat the baby or steal him or something. Even if the mom doesn't want to be bothered I think a simple thank you would do in that situation.:
edited to add: Before I get in trouble, let me say that chubby kids and kids w glasses are frequently quite beautiful. My ds is chubby, and is very beautiful. These kids are good examples of those who are frequently left out or ignored, is what I meant.
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#5 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 06:26 PM
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People use to stare and point at Emmet 'cause of his O2 tube and ask me all kinds of person questions like "Is he gonna live?"
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#6 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 06:33 PM
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Treelove, how did you handle that? That is so bad...
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#7 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 06:39 PM
 
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Whenever I go out with my friend, all the attention goes to her child, it seems.

Not biased or anything, but I love MINE, and sometimes it bothers me when people pay attention to her child and not mine.

But I usually just focus on my child when a situation like that happens. I don't know why, but I can't partake in their "oohs" and "aaahs".

On the other hand, when we go out in public, alone, I get comments on Caleb, and his older brother, sitting right in front of the people (at 3 years old) gets NO comments at all. I think this is RUDE RUDE RUDE, so I always make comments myself about what a GREAT older brother Owen is...

It's hard!! People want to comment on babies, and that's great, but what example are their well meaning comments giving our babies???

When they comment to me, I usually just say "yah, I love him, too!"... I really don't know how else to comment... Obviously they're BEAUTIFUL! They're BABIES!!!

I know this doesn't answer your question, but felt compelled to post, anyway!

Love,
Emily

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#8 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 06:42 PM
 
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i like the attention.
it makes me feel so proud and excited.

i do NOT like it when people touch my baby though.


when we were at the mall with my friend and her baby (same age as my baby) a LOT of people would fuss over how pretty her little girl was. that made my baby SMILE and COOO and he stole the attention away.

he was like "Hey look at me".

i love being the center of attention though....and i do feel a little left out when people only look at the baby and treat me like i am invisible. oh well.
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#9 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 06:59 PM
 
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My daughter was born with a condition called achondroplasia. It is a form of dwarfism. At 4 years old she is the size of an average 18 month old. Her head is very large, her torso is normal size and her arms and legs are very short. She is very disproportionate. We get stared at alot! We get pointed at, whispered about, people have actually laughed out loud and said "Look at the munchkin!"
Unfortunately looks seem to be everything in this society. God forbid your nose is huge, or your teeth are crooked or you are extremely short or tall.
You Moms are right to be concerned about the emphasis put on your child's looks(good or bad) While it is unavoidable in public, at home you must reinforce how smart, funny or creative ( what ever seems appropriate for them) they are., over and over.
It's important for your children and it is essential for my daughter.
I want her to grow up in a world where she is accepted for the smart, funny, compassionate person that she is.
You can all help me with that by reminding your children "it's what's on the inside that counts"
Thank you for letting me ramble. As you can imagine, I am very passsionate about this issue.

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#10 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 07:01 PM
 
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(((((PEGGY))))))

Thank you for sharing that with us!!

Love,
Emily

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#11 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 07:04 PM
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Yes Peggy, please, ramble on!
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#12 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 07:16 PM
 
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.
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#13 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 07:20 PM
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true, shoshanna's mom...good point. Babies are cute for a biological reason: so that we will notice and protect them. It is the exclusion of less attractive or older kids that bothers me.
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#14 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 07:37 PM
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Right on, Peggy!

I always said "He was born early. He'll out grow it."

but had always wished I had the guts to say "No. I only have another 45 minutes with him. Please don't use up anymore of our time."

The ones that had the MOST curtesy were children. I'll never forget the time we were in the elevator at the mall and this boy about 10 years old said to me "They're twins right? I knew because I'm a twin-that's my brother!"
and he cooed over them the whole time, told them how much fun they were gonna have being twins, never mentioning the O2 tube. When they got off the elevator, as the door shut I heard him whisper "Mom, what was that thing on his face?"
I had tears in my eyes-he was kind and considerate enough to wait until he thought they were in private. He didn't act afraid of Emmet. I wanted to get off the elevator and tell that mom what a wonderful job she was doing, raising such a kind, warm loving boy.

Oh, I'm tearing up now, just remembering....

So Mom-of-that-wonderful-boy, if you are out there, thank you for raising such a great kid.
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#15 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 10:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Treelove - I'm tearing up too - imagining that scenario in the elevator, I wish we could all be as sweet as that little boy - especially those of us old enough to know better! Now how do we raise our kids to be like him...

Peggy - I can't believe what people have said to you! Actually, unfortunately I can believe it. Really sad what people are teaching by example. Wish they could learn from Treelove's encounter.

Peacemama - You're a peach!

Babies are gorgeous, and I think they all are, and undoubtedly need to be told they are - all of them, especially the ones that don't fit the standard cuteness profile! Also kids clearly need to hear about their other great qualities, and to know that people come in all shapes and sizes and some have O2 tubes and some have wheelchairs. I guess by the time they are teenagers they will hate how they look no matter what! They'd better know that there is something much more substantial inside.
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#16 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 11:26 PM
 
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My son is one of those "oh, you should put him in commercials, he could make you rich" kinda kids. I love what he is, inside his silly little soul, and I hope that'd be the same however he looked.

He's at the age now (2 1/2) when he asks us to make up stories to tell him. I'm very glad he gives me the opportunity. I include people in wheelchairs, people who can't see, etc. in our stories and just make them everyday characters and friends, to help Cole understand that not everybody is the same. Seems to be working. One day he brought me a toy of his that has a girl in a wheelchair. I explained that her legs worked differently than his, and she couldn't walk, so she used a wheelchair to help her get around. He replied, "Her still can hug?" I said, "Yes, she can still hug." So he got a big grin on his face and gave his toy a giant gleeful hug, then continued playing. That made my day.
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#17 of 27 Old 12-11-2001, 11:30 PM
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So Happy--are YOU the mom from the elevator? Your ds fits the profile!LOL!
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#18 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 12:13 AM
 
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I have a different situation. My ds (who is now 5yr) has always been a cutie pie, you ought to be in pictures kind of guy. As a baby people were always gushing over him.

Now that he is older, my 5 yr is the size of most 4th graders. When in a group, it is always the petite children who get all the attention and oohing and awing.

I have people give him dirty looks for acting like a 5 yr old because they think he is so much older. The same age kids who are small , they think are cute. People have very different expectations of his abilities just because of his height. " Don't cry" , be a big boy" etc.... I try to protect him from such things but it is hard because we get it all the time. I often wonder if he is 4.5 ft now what will it be like when he is 8 yr old.....


edited for spelling
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#19 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 12:28 AM
 
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SoHappy, what a wonderful story you shared about your son! I love that he cared so much about the hugging. What a great statement he made - that a hug is what makes a person whole!

I totally believe in teaching kids about differences in that way. Talking about it simply, the way we would teach them about the weather or animals or whatever, is so much better than that "Don't stare and don't ask questions" attitude adopted by so many people when they see people with differences or disabilities. That just makes it look like they are to be feared, or that they are not part of the human race like everyone else. Some people get embarrassed when their children audibly point out something like that, but I try to teach dd with words that won't embarrass us or the person in question. So when she sees someone in a wheelchair, she says, "That lady has a wheelchair. It helps her move around because she has a hard time walking!" I think that's fine. Of course, at what age can they understand that some people, no matter how positive our comments, may find it rude to be spoken about like that? For example, I've taught her that people's bodies come in all shapes and sizes, but I'm not sure it would be okay if she said that about an overweight person! It's better than, "Why is that man so fat?" but still...
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#20 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 12:33 AM
 
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So Happy, bless you for teaching your son these things. It's not that some parents don't want their children to think like yours does, it's just that they don't always give it much thought,
I hope there are more parents out there like you.

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#21 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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SoHappy - I think you made all our days with that story! Where did you find that doll in the wheelchair? I'd really love to get one like that!

Nyeema - My brother was the same way - I think thats what first made me so aware of the problem, he was always large for his age - still is (6'3" and about 300lbs at 27 years old.) I was 2.5 yrs older but people mistook us for the same age - and him for a girl to make matters worse! (gorgeous blonde hair, he'd never let anyone cut it) That is a really hard position to be in, people don't let you act your actual age. I wish you luck with your ds, surely he's ahead of the game with such a caring mom who realizes what's up.
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#22 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 01:28 PM
 
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Peggy, you are so well spoken.
SoHappy, I hope that I can find toys like that for my son when he's old enough.

DS is also 'Gerber Baby' cute, as so many people like to say. That combined with the fact that he is always up at eye level in the sling seems to get him a lot of attention. We have some friends who always keep their little one in a stroller or car seat, and when all go out to dinner, people sometimes don't even see that they have a baby and only talk to my DS. He's got a really laid back personality too, and people always tell me how 'good' he is, what a great job I'm doing. I think it's an unfair way to judge a baby, because a baby with a more energetic temprement is not BAD, and it certainly isn't the fault of the mom if a baby is 'high need'. I try to explain this to people, but they just look at me as if to say "Can't you just take a compliment?"
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#23 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 01:31 PM
 
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Hi everybody. Thanks for the great responses to the story about Cole! Sometimes I just learn so much from him.

The toy is just this little plastic wheelchair and girl that came in the Fisher-Price(?) school bus. I almost didn't give him the bus (it was a gift, and I'm trying to minimize plastic) but I saw value in the wheelchair lesson. I know there are some cool dolls out there with leg braces, crutches, chairs, etc., though, because I ran across them online once and grooved on them. I just didn't bookmark the site because they were a fortune. (Business opportunity for one of you crafty moms?)

Celebrating diversity is important to me because I was discriminated against as a child. I was the only white person in my kindergarten class in Hawaii. It sounds tame, but I was a tall pale redhead surrounded by people who had been taught that Haoles (white people) ruined Hawaii -- even though the people teasing me weren't Hawaiian either. They were Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Philipino, Samoan, Tongan, etc.) My sister got stabbed in the arm with a fork in the lunch line once on "Kill Haole Day" which was the first Friday of each school year. It was brutal and didn't get much better until we moved back to California.

I remember sitting in the back seat of my best friend's mom's car while all the kids ragged on how stupid and useless haoles were. I was in tears and her mom didn't say a word to shut them up.

I realized when we got back to California in the fifth grade that I had it easy compared to lots of people. A move erased my challenges. Some people's are with them for a lifetime. Thank goodness for life's lessons!
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#24 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 02:02 PM
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Wow SoHappy! My brother used to get pulverized on Kill Haole Day! Nobody dared pick on me, though; I was such a tomboy!
Where did you live? I was pretty lucky because my school, in Lanikai, had a pretty significant haole population.
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#25 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 05:50 PM
 
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I replied above, but read that some of you would be interested in dolls with "disabilities" and I've got a good source. The Lakeshore Learning Store is an educational supply store which sells a lot of things, including dolls, that can be used to teach tolerance. In fact, they have adaptive equipment that fits their dolls but can be ordered separately and may fit dolls you already have. The website is . Do a search under the keyword "adaptive equipment" and it should take you right to it. Great stuff, sometimes a little pricey, but not too bad.
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#26 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 06:01 PM
 
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ParisMaman, we were in Honolulu. I went to John H. Wilson Elem, my sisters were at Kaimuki Jr. High and Kalani High. We got more haoles as I got older, but most of them went to Star of the Sea, a private school up the street.
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#27 of 27 Old 12-12-2001, 06:16 PM
 
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peacemama, thanks for the link!



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