Thursday, March 19, 2009

What to Say?

So.....I'm not sure what to do or say.

We have tons of activities going on all the time and it seems as if my minivan is a gathering place for preschoolers and kindergartners these days. When I pick up Diego from school, I usually park right outside the school and have the side door open so I don't have to get Joaquin and Mateo out each time I go. It's often that a few kids will jump in to say hello to all of us in the car and look at the baby. Recently we've also been doing a lot more playdates and carpools and there are lots of kids in our lives. This is where my question comes up.

Joaquin does not have a strong tongue protrusion but often when relaxed, which is usually the case when he's in his car seat, his tongue will stick out. Also, lately, he is teething and it seems like his tongue is one of his favorite things to play with in his mouth. The number one comment made by kids when they see the baby is "Why is his tongue sticking out?" which is followed by laughter. Now, this isn't usually taunting laughter. I think it's fairly innocent. I believe it's because every school aged child has been told not to stick their tongue out so when they see a baby doing it, it's fascinating and hilarious.

What do I say to that? How do I explain? Is this an opportunity to educate and inform? Or do I continue to do what I normally do which is say something like "oh, he's just relaxed and his tongue sometimes sticks out" or "he just likes his tongue" or "isn't he funny?". I find myself struggling with how to give an appropriate response. I feel like this is just a small "taste" of what is yet to come as far as managing other people's reactions.

Even today, I was on campus at our local state college. Joaquin is a guest patient for a Mock Physical Therapy Clinic for the students once a week. I was walking to the clinic and enjoying the sun and the breeze with Joaquin in my arms and he was having so much fun with the wind. He was smiling and sticking his tongue out almost as if to taste the air. A couple of young girls walked by us and caught a glimpse of him and smiled but as soon as they passed by I heard them giggle and say "did you see his tongue sticking out?" It broke my heart a little bit.

So...again....I'm not sure what to do or say.


  1. I used to say, "Well she has Down syndrome which means she has a small mouth so sometimes her tongue sticks out." We taught Kennedy early not to stick it out. We kept sour licorice with us and would wipe it over her tongue whenever it was sticking out. She would automatically put it back in. Now we just have to say, "tongue in" and she does it. AND she LOVES sour candy! LOL

  2. I guess it would depend on the situation. Small children won't care what you're explanation is - they just innocently think it's funny. College students are different but you were just walking by - I'm sure I would have stopped to explain. Wouldn't be worth it to me.

  3. Great Post! I haven't had a kid ask me just yet, but I guess it would all depend on the time I had to explain to those kids why he/she sticks her tongue out.

    If it was something that happened and I knew we couldn't talk, I probably wouldn't say much, but if they were with me for a while, then I would go and explain just like how "Mommy to those Special Ks" said.

    And about those girls...sometimes I wish that people actually knew that we can hear every whisper and to just wait until we're out of sight if they want to say something silly!

  4. I like your short and sweet, "Oh, isn't he funny?" for younger school age kids. The sour candy sounds like a great one to try, too :-) That would break my heart too what those college girls said.

  5. It broke my heart to read about your heart breaking a little! Maybe they thought it was funny/cute how he had his tongue sticking out? Maybe they didn't meant to be inconsiderate at all... hopefully? I like the "isn't he funny" for younger kids comment too - i will have to remember that one. We have some things to learn/figure out, don't we? Have a great weekend!!! thanks for the great post!!!

  6. We get this all the time. Only it is with everyone commenting on how tired Mikah is even though he is wide awake. He has droopy eyelids and although he just looks like Mikah to us, to others I guess he looks like he is about to pass out...It has been really frustrating to us recently. Thank you for sharing your frustration outloud and reminding me we are not alone :)

  7. I'm pretty certain the college kids were just making an innocent comment because it probably did look funny or cute seeing Joaquin with his tongue out. It's just the beginning though of possibly a lifetime of these types of comments that reminds me of what's ahead on our journey. Managing other people's reactions and not letting it affect us.