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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just curious. I have extensive scars from burns I received as a child. They are mostly on my thighs and chest, at least the most noticeable ones. This is obviously an issue mostly in summer and at public swimming pools at birthdays, etc.

I am very comfortable with the scars. I don't mind telling the (to me rather boring by now) story about how they happened. But sometimes I have kids crowding around me and wanting to touch me. They will sometimes come back repeatedly and "caress" the scars. I know this is all completely normal and I'm not upset by it. I'm just not sure exactly how to satisfy their curiosity while maintaining my personal space and boundaries and frankly, not take up a ton of time when I'd rather be swimming! I think it's a good opportunity to educate kids about this sort of thing, I'm just not sure how and sometimes I've had enough. I also don't know if it's even appropriate to let other kids touch me (it's just my legs, but still).

Anyone else have experience with this? FWIW, to me they're not THAT dramatic; so I'm that much more surprised when they attract so much attention. To me, they're just part of my beautiful, normal body!
 

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When I worked as a preschool teacher, I used to get lots of children fascinated with my acne, and had to tell them in a nice way not to touch it. I think it it is a very appropriate to tell children about your scars but to kindly discourage them from touching them. You also may say that I would like to go for swim now and excuse your self from the groups of children. I think its great that you are willing to talk to children and they see you excepting of the scars and having a great time swimming. I agree it can be a little annoying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply, poetlizabeth and welcome to MDC! Yes, I'm sure this is pretty common. Kids notice any kind of difference. I just know they're not being rude or mean and I'm trying to deal with it in a gentle way without feeling like a sideshow. I like your simple, straightforward responses. I think that will work just fine!
 

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IDK how old these kids are, but I can remember a similar situation when I was growing up. There was a teenaged boy with the WORST case of acne I have ever seen in my life. His entire face was covered, and it actually looked painful. We all were fascinated. He was a very nice guy, and tried his best to answer everyone's questions, but his niceness sort of encouraged even more attention. Finally, an adult had to tell us to lay off, that it wasn't nice to focus on someone like that, and that it could make a person uncomfortable. It never occurred to us it would have that effect, as it really was innocent curiosity and he was so nice. Of course, we knew better than to make fun of someone, but we didn't know that even curious attention might be a problem. I don't know how well you know these kids, or how comfortable you are, but maybe you can make it a teaching moment by gently guiding them and saying you don't mind talking a little about how your scars got there, but people don't always want to be touched a lot, or something. That way, you are getting them to back off, but they are also gaining a better understanding of considering people's feelings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, I think in terms of teaching what's appropriate, it's probably better to not engage them in a lot of conversation and really not let them touch me. I would never let them behave that way to another child or adult with scars or some other "difference." It's truly not a big deal to me, so the issue is how to teach them appropriateness. I had so much unwanted attention as a child over this. I wore full-length elastic stockings for years at a time, even in summer. The scars were MUCH more visible then. I also had full-helmet headgear. It's surprising I'm not more sensitive about this now. Sometimes I know the kids well, sometimes not. Sometimes it's been ADULTS approaching me, sometimes with their kids in tow. They ask very intrusive questions. It feels weird to be surrounded, even if people mean well. Honestly, maybe that's exactly what I should say. I came here to swim, just like them! I know how hard it is, even as an adult, to feel curious about "what happened" to someone when you see a difference. But there is just no polite way to ask or to stare, I don't think; unless you know the person really well and even then. Because of my own experience, I NEVER ask questions about someone's appearance. I know how great it is when people I know well have simply not said anything. I think it's important to develop that kind of impulse control. Not that I feel embarrassed or anything and not that it really bothers me if people ask. It's just refreshing if they don't.
 
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