The other day, I was sitting on the side of the pool, trying to wrangle a toddler in my arms while my four-year old was scooping mythical ice cream cones and flutter kicking in the water. Mostly, she just looked bored. Every once in a while she would offer me a half-smile, which is code for “uh, later maybe we can split a smoothie? Watch PBS? Mulch the backyard?” Buck up, sweetie, I teleport back directly to her brain. She sighs and keeps scooping.
Between my son’s cracker-eating and shrieking and my daughter’s bored looks, I made friends with a new mommy who was smart enough to put her little one in the YMCA day care. She was calmly watching her twins swim next to my daughter. I’m all friendly and “oh your kids are so adorable” and “where did you get that swimsuit cover-up” and such, when the following conversation occurs:
“Your son is so precious!” I say. “I just love how he looks like a little man. He’s got these cute little arms and legs and he just seems to strut around like a grown-up.”
“Thanks so much,” she says. She looks lovingly at her precious August, flopping around in the water, trying to hold his nose and paddle at the same time.
“I’m serious. He is just about the most adorable kid ever. The way he sort-of struts around with his arms out like that? And his little bowl-legs? Get out!”
“Yes, he does have a long torso,” she says.
“I’d say. And just look at those legs! Just want to eat them up!” She sits for a moment without saying anything.
“He’s got dwarfism.” She turns and aims her Ray-Bans back toward the water. “He’ll probably make it to four feet if we’re lucky. I guess it’s starting to be more obvious. His legs won’t grow that much.”
No. Please Lord, no. Did I honestly just flat-out make fun of some smallish person with dwarfism? I just thought he was a way-cute four-year old for goodness sakes! I didn’t know! I smiled in that way you smile when you accidentally spill coffee on your crotch or when your kid blurts out a curse word in public. That horrified, pasty smile. That smile that literally says “holy sh#t” without actually saying holy sh#t.
Only me. Seriously, people. Only me.