Friday, January 27, 2012

Seeing Myself In Her Eyes

Hannah in the car

Hannah has been battling a cold.  Her nose has been both stuffy and runny and she has constantly been wiping at it. Because of that the skin between her nose and upper lip is bright red and very chapped. We've been treating the area with aquaphor and encouraging her to "dab not rub", but apparently kids at school noticed her chapped lip this week and have been asking questions about it. She hasn't acted like the questions bothered her too much, but tonight she said it really embarrasses her when people say, "What's wrong with your lip?"  I get it.  I was just like her when I was little.  I was quiet and didn't like any attention focused on me.  This might explain why I cried when I was told I needed glasses at age ten.  I didn't want anyone staring at me or asking me about them. Leah is the complete opposite-- she likes to have attention focused on her.  She shines in the spotlight where Hannah and I avoid it at all costs. Which brings me to a story.....

My seventh grade year was the worst year of my school career.  Starting junior high, acne, braces, bad hair, insecurity, social cliques....need I say more?  Well, things got worse for me in May of my seventh grade year. We were all required to take a speech class.  The class was designed to help us overcome our fears about public speaking and ultimately gain self-confidence.  To me, it was a nightmare.  To stand up in front of others and speak!  I would rather undergo some sort of oral surgery than stand in front of a class of my peers.  They would look at me, judge me, dissect my outfit, my hair and possibly say mean things to me.  Our last class assignment of the year was to memorize and then deliver a monologue in front of the class.  I received my monologue and spent a few weeks practicing, hoping a sinkhole would somehow swallow up my school so I wouldn't have to actually go through with performing it.  Around the same time I was practicing, I noticed a bump on my lower lip.  Over a few days, the bump grew and started to crust over.  My mom thought it was a cold sore, so we treated it with various over-the-counter remedies, but with no success.  In fact, more bumps appeared on my lip and my chin.  They oozed and would crust over and were even painful. Going to school became torturous.  "What is on your lip?  Gross, what is on your chin?"  I was mortified and embarrassed.  Finally my mom took me to a dermatologist who diagnosed it to be impetigo.  I was given a prescription and told it would go away within a week.

But wait....I had to perform my stupid monologue!  In front of the class!  With these horrible sores on my face!  My mom talked to my teacher, but nothing could be done about switching my performance date.  It was the end of the year and grades had to be tallied by a certain date.  I was one of the last to perform, so it was do or die.  The day arrived and I was beyond nervous.  Speech was the last class of the day for me, and I watched the hours tick by with a sick pit in my stomach.  Finally the time came and I found myself standing in front of my class and my teacher telling me to begin.  For a brief moment all I could feel were the sores on my face.  They felt enormous and gross.  But I had no choice.  I began my monologue and did the best I could do.  Thankfully, no one said anything to me about my skin issue and I went home relieved.

The next day my mom allowed me to do something that only happened once in my entire "school career".  She let me stay home for no good reason.  I wasn't running a fever.  I wasn't throwing up. We weren't going out of town.  She just knew I needed a day off from school.  From the embarrassment of my chin.  She knew she was giving me a reprieve from the questions and stares.  And for that I was so very grateful.

I guess I shared that story because I understood Hannah's tears tonight.

PS-- The sores did clear up quickly once I started the medication, and I've never had impetigo again.  Also, looking back, I should have stayed home because impetigo is highly contagious.  Live and learn.


k_stin said...

Good story! It reminded me of what all my little kiddos go through every day. It's sometimes easy to forget. Hope Hannah feels better soon!

Maria Rose said...

Oh man your mother's heart must have been breaking for you. So hard for parent's to send their kids out to face the world sometimes. How kind of her to give you a recovery day.