People apparently like to stare. I don’t know why. I don’t know what inside of a person makes them want to stare but they do. They tend to stare specifically at my family and how we move Mom around. I would love to say this doesn’t bother me but it does. It especially bothers me more when it is happening at a family gathering or a party with friends. Why do people stare?
As a child I can remember distinctly Mom telling Sister K and me the phrase “Don’t stare.” She would say this when we would see someone who might have some sort of disability or may be different from us. She would say this because as children our instinct is to stare. It was one of what I would call Mom’s cardinal rules. I figured everyone knew this rule. Naively I especially figured adults knew this rule, but I am finding out they don’t.
We were at a family birthday party this past summer and everyone was lining up for a family picture. We were the last to get situated. The rest of our extended family seemed to move rather quickly to get in place. Then they just stood there and stared as Mom moved slowly with her walker and we followed around across the living room floor. Later that night when we had said good-bye in front of the house they just stood there again. Stood there and stared as Mom walked slowly to the car. Stared as we got her into the car. They didn’t speak. They just stared.
Similar things happen at parties we go to. There is a lot to maneuver and manage quickly without trying to draw attention to us. All while keeping a calm happy look on our face. It’s tough. We wait for the right moment when no one seems to be looking, then we move Mom from her wheelchair to a chair at the table. We shift her legs. Sometimes we literally move them. Sometimes we literally have to bend them. We help her stand. We help her balance. Then we do it again at the end. Even if she stays in her wheelchair there is always getting her into the car. The bottom line is there is always something. At the same time there seems to always be someone staring.
A word to society: Stop staring. As a family we are under enough internal stress in these situations ourselves and it would be helpful if you would just leave us alone and continue on as if nothing different is happening. Continue on in whatever else is happening and stop staring at us. How would you feel if you were in our shoes and we were staring at you? I am curious what people would say if I asked them that question. Maybe I should start.
Do you have any experience with people staring in difficult situations? Do you think there is a reason people do this? Were you ever taught not to stare? Do you think I could just be more sensitive to this and need to get over it?