>Yesterday, I realized that I need thicker skin for this journey and for all things concerning Abbie.

I took the girls swimming with our neighbors at a community pool. After a while, Hannah wanted something to drink, so I went over to the concession stand. A smarter mom would’ve brought things, but I needed to go to the grocery store, but didn’t have time to go before going swimming with our friends (they called to invite us that morning).

So, I’m in line, holding Abbie on my hip when I hear two little girls chatting behind me, and I picked up something about the baby, so I turned around. These girls looked to be about 8 years old and one of them was sticking her tongue out and was mocking the sounds Abbie was making. I didn’t know what to think at first. The second girl asked, “Why is her tongue like that?” and I responded, “Her tongue is just bigger,” because I didn’t want to get into the spiel about her syndrome. Besides, kids usually accept the simplest answer.

Not this time.

The first girl, the child sticking her tongue out at mine, said, “I thought she was just being mean.” I’m amazed how my mother bear/lion instinct rises up. I responded, “No, she’s not being mean. She has a larger tongue. She was born that way.”

I had to fight back the tears. I was SO angry. This child was being really bratty about it. Because my Angel might look a little different, she was being a bratty, mean kid. My heart ripped in two, because it’s a glimpse into the future, of when Abbie goes to daycare or school, of when she’s bigger and not a cute little baby anymore and has to venture out into this cruel world.

I understand that the girl is just that, a girl. A child. Though, obviously, her parents haven’t taught her much in the way of manners, being nice or acceptance of others.

Yesterday, Abbie’s feelings weren’t hurt. She had no idea that this bratty child was being mean to her. But what will happen in 6 or 7 years (maybe no even that long) when she faces kids like that by herself? How will she handle it? What will she do or say? Will her self-esteem be crushed? Will she cry? Will she be hurt? Will she stand up for herself? What will her words be? Will she let their words roll off her back like water off a duck’s back?

How do I teach her to be accepting of herself and what are the right words for me to tell her to say? How do I lead her by my example of how to handle situations like that? Because I want her to be strong and proud of herself.

I want her to excel and succeed in every way and I don’t want some snotty kid robbing her of self-esteem and dignity.