When I go out with my three beautiful girls, we attract a certain amount of attention. As any parent of multiple children who are close in age, I’ve gotten used to it. People can’t help but comment about any family that’s larger than 2 young children. I get it. We’re a spectacle.
I often have two of them strapped to me; which makes them appear even closer in size and age than they are. If not, I push one in a bright red stroller as she plays with the beads I attached and joyfully yells and smiles at everyone. My oldest talks a mile a minute with the vocabulary and clarity of a child twice her age. If the store has kid size carts, she’s surely pushing one with her babies in it along with a bag of grapes. They always have brightly colored bows on their heads, and occasionally match. My middle girl has Down syndrome. We’re a unique family. The comments are expected.
“Three girls? Your poor husband is outnumbered!”
“Are they all yours?!”
“Look at all those beautiful bows.”
“You’ve got your hands full.”
I also get the occasional unique comment; one that makes me genuinely smile. From people who really look at my family before speaking.
“Three girls. What a lucky family.”
“How close in age are they? You look like you’ve got it all under control.”
I don’t mind either type of comment. The vaguely observant, stereotypical, or the ones who spread joy.
Cashiers and wait staff remember us even if it’s only our second time going somewhere. I understand the urge to single out my middle girl. I really do. Shes cute. She’s LOUD. She’s got the almond eyes, low set ears and flat nose that indicate her Down syndrome; it’s hard to miss. She has an infectious smile and is learning to communicate, so she might even “say” something to you using her hands.
But please, don’t ignore my other two. Finley is observing with her big, beautiful eyes, her own squeals of joy, and a ready smile. Kaylee Dee is a little mother hen and is dying to be noticed in public for her manners and helpfulness. Please don’t ignore them and only compliment Everly’s cuteness.
Especially don’t do this when she’s throwing a fit. I’m sure you wouldn’t praise a typical two year old while in the throes of a terrible two meltdown; please don’t tell me she’s cute when she’s trying to hit her big sister and yelling.
Inclusion is when you treat all my girls with equal attention. Not when you single out Everly and ignore the other two. This hurts all three of them in the long run. It teaches Everly that she is allowed to behave however, and be lavished with praise and even given things. And it teaches my other two that they aren’t special. They are young now, but soon Kaylee Dee will start to notice the discrepancies, and Finley will too. Resentment will build. I know you mean well, but I’m trying to raise three girls, not just one.
Our local grocer “gets” it. She acknowledges all three girls’ contribution to my family equally. She always has something to say to each one, a sticker for all three and frequently offers to help me to the car even though it’s not a store where that’s the norm. I go out of my way to be in her line, even if it’s longer.
Because as much as I love the acceptance my middle girl is always shown, please don’t forget my other two. They may not have an extra chromosome, but they do have feelings.