By Mrs. Mel Telford
My son Kendrick was born on February 23, 2017 at 6:37am. He was 7 lbs, 2 oz, and 19.75 inches long. He started breastfeeding right away without any troubles. He is a good sleeper, he is strong, he hits every milestone early, and he has been an amazing little boy. There is nothing wrong with him!
When Kendrick turned one month old I noticed a red speckle on his ear. Just like any smart Mum would, I didn’t hop on Google! I waited until his one-month check-up and I asked his nurse about his ear. The nurse confirmed our suspicions and assured us that it was absolutely nothing to worry about and it was very common. It was just a birthmark. At his three-month check-up the doctor said the same thing, if it isn’t bothering him then there is nothing to be worried about. So I stopped worrying…sort of.
By the time Kendrick was 6 months old his birthmark had spread to cover half of his ear. It was red and bumpy but it didn’t bother him at all. It’s not something that I ever went out of my way to hide, however, the fact that I was asked repeatedly by friends, family, and strangers, “what’s wrong with his ear?” really started to weigh on my nerves.
It wasn’t the fact that people looked at him or asked about his ear that irked me so much. Humans are curious, it is in our nature! But the way that people would assume that there was something “wrong” with him is what started to make me feel shame for him. I started to worry about him getting teased and bullied in school. I worried that he would feel less confident in himself because he was different than his friends.
There is nothing wrong with my son’s ear. He is a happy, healthy boy. And I have come to realize that if I keep worrying about what other people think or say about my son’s birthmark then he might grow up worrying about these things too. That is not what I want for my son, or for anyone else’s child. I want to teach my son to be proud of who he is and to help others love themselves too. Just because someone (or something) is different doesn’t mean it is wrong. My son needs to know that there is nothing “wrong” with him and he is beautiful just the way he is.
As a Mum it is my goal to instil in my son the values that this world is so desperately in need of right now: acceptance, self-love, empathy, and kindness. We need to be conscious of the things that we say (or type) to each other and choose our words carefully making sure we are mindful of who we are talking to and what we are talking to them about, because you never know what someone else is struggling with on the inside.
So the next time you see a kid (or ANYONE) that looks different, speaks different, dresses different, prays different, or loves different from you please take a moment to think and choose your words carefully. We are all beautiful and we all deserve to feel like we belong in this world. Always speak with acceptance, with love, and with kindness.