Why, yes. Yes, she is.
Or should I have said, “What would make you say that?”
Or maybe, “And you’re very rude, aren’t you?”
Only the person who asked the question isn’t rude. She’s Sassy’s jazz teacher, and she’s a very nice person. So, imagine my surprise when I walked into the dance studio last weekend, and she looked at Cheeky (who she has seen many, many times in the past three months) and said, “She’s very albino, isn’t she?”
Three-hundred responses jumbled around in my head. The first….No, she’s not. She was born with albinism, and she’s very human and very beautiful. The last something along the lines of…..What would make you say such a rude and thoughtless thing?
Both girls were standing beside me, waiting for my response. Sassy looked like a deer in the headlights, her big blue eyes wide with surprise, and Cheeky was burrowing closer to my side (as she always does when people comment on her looks). So, I had to say something.
And what I really wanted to do was correct the terminology, remind the teacher that Cheeky was no different than anyone else, explain that it just isn’t PC to use “albino” to describe a person and, above all, tell her that Cheeky understood every word she was saying and that it really wasn’t very nice to point out other people’s differences.
But I held back because the girls were watching and because the world won’t always be kind. We all have to face thoughtless comments and rudeness at times, and it is our reactions and responses that make us strong. Being upset and unhappy and rude wouldn’t have accomplished anything, and (as I’ve said before) why should I be defensive about my sweet girl?
Finally, I smiled and put my hand on Cheeky’s white hair and said, “She’s very beautiful and very unique.”
And Sheri (who works in the office and has heard me field many questions about adoption and Cheeky) called out from her place at the desk, “She really is. All that gorgeous white hair and those beautiful blue eyes. Both your girls are gorgeous.”
And both my girls preened as the jazz teacher agreed that they were, indeed, stunning.
They are beautiful, my girls, but there is no denying Cheeky’s uniqueness. She is a white rose in a field of sunflowers. She is a single white cloud in an azure blue sky. She is the brightest of stars in the pitch-black night. People cannot help that their eyes are drawn to her.
She will learn how to respond to that by watching me. I am the mirror in which my daughter sees herself, and I am the person she looks to for reassurance when others try to define who she is by the way she looks. It is my privelege and my joy to guide her as she learns to embrace her God-given uniquness, and I pray each day for the ability to be as gracious as I want my Cheeky to be.
Some days, I think I am getting it just right.
Some days, I think I am failing abysmally.
Mostly, though, I simply acknowledge that I can only do my best.
That, I think, is all God asks of me.