First impressions are important.
|Whenever giving instructions to children it is always best to check that the child fully understands what he has been told.
One evening when I was about eight years old it was announced that one of our Uncles, we had not met before, was coming over to stay with us for a fortnight. We were also told that he was a little different from the rest of our relations insomuch that he was what they now call a little person. We were given strict instructions not to stare at him, as this would make him feel uncomfortable, as well as get us into serious trouble for doing so.
Being short for my age and the constant target for bullies and teasers I knew what it was like to be the centre of unwanted attention and I promised to avoid making him uncomfortable. As much as I enjoyed visitors, I could not help but feel more and more apprehensive as his planned arrival drew closer.
Finally he showed up and I greeted him a little sheepishly, tying my hardest not to stare, but curious at the same time as to what this person I had heard so much about looked like. He sounded just like any other relation that I had ever met, and took a genuine interest in everything my brother and I had to say.
I distinctly remember dinner that night, pecking away at the food, constantly diverting my eyes from wandering toward him; wondering how I was going to get through the next fortnight fighting the urge to look at him.
My inner turmoil must have be obvious and looking back now, I think having someone purposely avoid staring at you, would make you more self-conscious than having someone that stares. So after dinner my parents took me aside and explained that it was okay for me to actually look at him as long as didn’t stare, which came as a relief.
That night I bonded well with him and when it came time for him to depart I found myself in tears.