Our house has been a sick one lately. Oia is back to her old self now but last week she did miss a day of school and a PT session. Rob worked from home the day Oia was most sick to help out with both of our sick girls (and to allow me to stick with Oia's afternoon IEP meeting). Once I returned home from the meeting, Rob needed a quiet house to attend to a conference call so the girls and I headed out across the street where some neighbor kids were playing. Both girls happily rode in the wagon.
As we became part of the neighborhood gang, Oia wanted out. Of course. I love that about her, always willing to be a part of the action. About 6 kids, ranging in age from about 3 yrs to 1st grade, ran around the dead end street, happy to be out of school and/or out of the house. Oia was just happy to be feeling better.
The first grader, C, who we have ran into occasionally says to me "Hey, I see her in the cafeteria all the time." I act surprised/excited, and turn to Oia to join her in the conversation.
"Oia, C sees you in the cafeteria at school. Do you ever see him?" She smiles and reaches for his hand. I guess she must.
C holds her hand for a while until Oia directs him to pull the wagon that Esme is still riding in. He follows Oia's orders as I step aside to allow for the new driver. Suddenly, everyone wanted to pull the wagon and suddenly it became a lesson in taking turns. Lucky Esme. Then, C randomly shared out loud the fact that Oia always wears glasses, to which I reply, "You are so right! And so does J (who was an adult standing near us) and guess what? I do too!" "Oh" he said, as if he suddenly realized that wearing glasses wasn't so out of the norm after all.
Kids continue to play around and few moments later, as C has control of the wagon again, he felt the importance to inform me that Oia was drooling. I just shrugged my shoulders, "It's okay, that happens". And God love Oia... she acts unfazed by all of the commentary involving her.
Then, still amoung the swarm of busy kids, I hear C as he points to Oia and begins to exclaim to his buddy, "Hey, that girl... " and he never got to finish what he started out to say. I intercepted. "Wa-wa-waaait a minute... she has a name! Do you not know it or did you just forget what it is?"
C pauses. "Ummmmm..."
"If you think you forgot her name, then you should ask her what it is." He then asked, and Oia answered.
"That's right. Her name is Oia so from here on out that is what you will call her, okay?"
C nods. Our conversation ended. He ran off to play some more. Oia veered in attempt to play with other friends. And I never got to hear what C was going to say about that girl, the one who happens to be mine.
Perhaps a compliment to Oia was on the tip of C's tongue and I ruined it. Maybe he was just going to tell his buddy that he sees Oia in the cafeteria, just like he told me. I can only hope it was something nice. But the term, that girl, sounds isolating. Probably feels that way too. Who wants to be that girl or that boy in a crowd of peers? No one, I assure you, especially when blending in as a typical and equal part of the whole is often a challenge. The situation warranted as a teachable moment in my book, because even though Oia may not fully understand or be fazed by such things now, one day she will be. We all deserve to be known by name, not by differences. We include and if we don't know one by name, we introduce. We gave our child a name, and for all who interact with her, she shall be known by that name, not as "that girl". An over-protective momma bear? I make no apologies. It's just that simple.