Remember when you were pregnant and complete strangers would make unhelpful remarks about the size of your bump? It was “too big”, “too small”, and even in the case of one lady (who was lucky to escape with her life given I was tired, hormonal and being forced to attend a cheese and wine event) “are you having a hippo?”
Well the good news is that it’s great preparation for all the unhelpful, nosey parker, insensitive and downright stupid things people are going to say about your child going forwards. Who doesn’t enjoy an old lady chipping in with discipline suggestions when your toddler is spinning on the end of their reins like a member of Cirque du Soleil and you’re dropping your shopping right in the middle of the pedestrian crossing? Or telling you why you’re baby is crying like they are some sort of infant focused version of Mystic Meg (who was never right anyway as an aside).
Some days you can laugh about it. Give a cheery wave and walk away thinking it’s actually quite sweet that they want to help. But we all know that sleep deprivation, anxiety and our mummy tiger instincts are not designed to make us gleeful and buoyant when it comes to outside interference.
When the comments are aimed at your child in a negative way it’s going to sting. My son was born six weeks early and when I first took him out in his pram (after a 2 week stint in hospital learning to feed and breathe unassisted) a lady I will never forget loomed into his pram uninvited. “My god, it’s tiny! What’s wrong with it?” she said. For someone who is not ever short of words I was completely blindsided. I made a weird strangled noise before bursting into tears. The annoying thing is that later I thought of about three truly brilliant replies.
- “Your brain? I see what you mean! Quick, the hospital is just up the road! It seems serious!”
- “I don’t know, I’d ask the mother but I literally just stole him!”
- “My son was was born prematurely. That’s why he’s small. Out of interest why are you so rude and insensitive?”
Sadly I didn’t have her number or address to use my witty repostes. If I had have done I’d probably have rung her doorbell at 4am to deliver them all before high fiving her and swaggering away into the night.
On a serious note, we know how hard it is coping with eczema. It’s a horrible thing to watch your child suffer with and the chances are if your little one is having a bad flare up you’re going to be sleep deprived, stressed and about as resilient as a fireguard made of snow. Some days you have the patience to explain All About Eczema, others you just don’t.
When your small person is covered in angry red scratches and looks like they just went toe to toe with Wolverine the last thing you need is outside interference, unhelpful comments or even just ridiculous staring. If they are itchy and frustrated they are allowed to shout about it. If they are scratching themselves raw the chances are you’ve noticed. Here at HQ we felt having a few good responses up your sleeve could be just what the doctor ordered at times like this. Even if you never use them hopefully they will give you a well earned chuckle.
Here are the top offenders, how to spot them and how to come back in style when they drop a stinker.
The obnoxious advisor
You can spot them a mile off. They will bear down on you like The Mary Rose in full sail, often from quite some distance. Because they know better than you. Ready your cannons, we all know what happened to the Mary Rose.
Most likely to recommend that you try everything that actually you already have and then look offended that you’re one step ahead. Will know all sorts of ridiculous home remedies (probably unsuitable for your child like foods to avoid for a newborn) and insist on giving them all to you. Overbearing, rude and seemingly determined to prove you have no idea what you’re talking about even if you happen to be a Harley Street dermatologist.
- “Thank you. How interesting. I couldn’t be bothered to research this and now I don’t have to!”
- “So you think it’s eczema? Interesting. I just assumed bubonic plague…don’t think me rude but I need to get home and paint over that red cross on my door…”
- “Thank you for sharing. I have some thoughts on how you can treat those wrinkles as well…”
The pointless observation maker
Feels the need to remark on your child’s appearance in a negative way. Often comments and moves on quickly leaving you feeling awful. Most likely to say things like “someone’s been scratching haven’t they?” or “what’s wrong with their skin? It looks DREADFUL!”
- “Who’s been scratching? You’ve been scratching? I don’t mean to be rude but have you checked yourself for fleas?”
- “I can tell you’re one of those super bright people who nothing gets past…”
- “Luckily eczema tends to clear up over time. What are you going to do about your awful lack of empathy though!?”
Has absolutely no knowledge of eczema (or normal social boundaries) and therefore asks really stupid, hurtful questions like “is that catching?” or “why don’t you take your child to the doctor?” Likely to leave you feeling like you need to make an infographic, laminate it and stick it on your child to save you or them the bother of endless repetitive explanations. There is just NO NEED for these comments and on a bad day they can make you feel really upset and protective. If you decide to ram them with your trolley we’ll turn a blind eye but if you just want to slap them down verbally you could try:
- “It’s extremely infectious yes. You’ll be covered in eczema in mere seconds unless you move far away.”
- “I’m banned from the doctor’s surgery for my violent and unpredictable behaviour…”
- “Is your inappropriate behaviour catching?”
Just stares. Doesn’t ask questions outright but isn’t above conferring with other gawpers to make you even more uncomfortable. Catches you catching them, looks away for a split second, then resumes full on binocular mode. Almost the worst of the lot as the others could be termed well meaning if you’re in a particularly charitable mood. These people are just downright rude. My preferred course of action with gawpers is to wave in the most over the top manner you possibly can. Bonus points for a slightly deranged grin that will leave them wondering if they have accidentally engaged with an escapee from Broadmoor. For extra fun why not hold your hand to your ear and shout “Code 4, code 4, possible stalker sighting, send in back up STAT!”?
Here at HQ we know that sometimes you have to laugh or you’ll cry. We also know that dealing with the tough days, building your child’s confidence to deal with unwanted attention and teaching them high self esteem are all challenges that every parent faces, but that are just that little bit tougher when you add eczema to the mix.
That’s why we write these posts. To share our experience, to give you insights into what worked for us and to let you know no matter what, you’re never alone. Unless you get arrested for trolley ramming. In which case we’ll put in a good word for you.
As well as sharing our experience of bringing up an eczema child (and favourite allergy-friendly recipes), ScratchSleeves also manufacture and sell our unique stay-on scratch mitts and PJs for itchy babies, toddlers and children. We now stock sizes from 0-adult in a range of colours. Visit our main website for more information.