Sticking Out Like A Sore Thumb

I just don’t want to die a stupid death. “Did you hear about Jeremy?”

“No, what happened?”

“He was pumping gas and smoking a cigarette and accidentally mistook the car’s gas tank for an ashtray. He blew up.” Ouch

Which is pretty unlikely since I’ve never smoked. But a stupid way to die nonetheless.

Or

“Did you hear about Jeremy? He was driving in the mountains and watching Netflix. He accidentally drove off the side of a cliff because he wasn’t paying attention. He just so happened to be watching Thelma and Louise.

All of my life I’ve vied for attention in most settings. I can talk over people in school. Try to upstage anyone in a play. Compete at an obnoxious level. Preach. I like the center of attention when I want it. It just so happens that I usually want it too much. It’s probably some need to be recognized and adored which I suppose many people want.

At the same time, I don’t like to be centered out for bad attention. I was in science class in 8th grade at a new school in Florida trying to make friends with my irresistible charm when my teacher said, “I don’t know how they act in Alabama, but we don’t act like idiots down here.” That’s not really the attention that I was looking for- I never spoke again in that class.

Over the last several years, Tiffanni has been hyper-aware of the attention that she draws. She hates when a kid sits beside us at Dairy Queen because kids stare. Like, bore a hole into your soul. And they usually choreograph what they’re thinking with their facial expressions. I’ve seen kids, eyes peeled back with raisin-furrowed foreheads, and I’ve seen kids with mouth snarls of disgust. I always try to distract Tiff. As clueless as she is sometimes, she catches all of the gawking glares.

I don’t say anything to the kids. I don’t even make faces back at them. I don’t know what it is about being different, but it draws attention. That’s why we all stare when we see someone handicapped, or a little person, someone with a deformity, a transvestite, even a couple with eight kids, or anything that is different. I saw Noah Galloway (the wounded veteran from Dancing with the Stars) at the movies yesterday and caught myself staring at his partially amputated arm. Dragging a stumbling, lumbering Tiffanni on my arm and staring at another “different” person- what an odd combo.

Two years ago I took Tiffanni and the girls to Melting Pot after our Christmas Village estrogen extravaganza. We had a great night with a lot of fun and talking, and on our way back to the car, I was escorting Tiffanni slowly, I heard Addyson scream, “Shut-up you stupid idiot!” as she raced by me and threw herself into the car. Just before I could fuss at her, “We don’t talk like that young lady,” I opened her door and said tenderly, “What’s wrong, what happened?”

“Those boys were making fun of mom. They were laughing at her saying that she was drunk.” I hate the wrong kind of attention for myself, but what I hate more than that is when my kids get the wrong kind of attention because of something they have no control over. Our world can be cruel and oblivious at the same time.

And that’s just it, how can a person be so conspicuous, receive so much attention and yet rarely be noticed? Not noticed in the unseen sense, because they get plenty of that, but not noticed. Not recognized for their personhood, their humanity. I get it, she’s different now, but fully alive, fully human. There’s a reason that the nursing homes have empty hallways.

Someone asked me several years ago what my greatest need was, “How can I help?”

I told them, “Just notice Tiffanni, make her feel like although things have changed, she’s seen.” And my people have done very well with that. She still gets shower invitations, lunch invites, and phonecalls.

Everyone wants to be noticed for their humanity, not for their uncontrollable differences. And Tiffanni is no different. Or maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s me that needs her to be noticed for her normalcy and overlooked despite her unique needs instead of the other way around. While I try to pretend like nothing has changed, it’s the gawking that I catch in my peripheral that snap me out of my unreality. There are a lot of stupid ways to die, but none worse than a death that no one realized ever happened.

 

 

 

* I know that many of you read this with a desire to be inspired and uplifted. Today just isn’t one of those days. Thank you for loving us in the easy days and the days that aren’t so much.

33 Comments for “Sticking Out Like A Sore Thumb”

says:

When things like this happen to people you love..You can’t help but get mad. I understand Addison’s words to them. People are so cruel. Always have been. What happened to teaching manners to children? I was taught never to stare and would have gotten it!!! The good part is that we love Tiffani… She’s our Tiffani. She deserves all good things for her precious life. Y’all have a great big church family who loves you very much!!! Always praying and love talking and hugging my TIFF….Love you

Robin

says:

Shame on us for being a society of people who stare! Shame on us for having children or grandchildren who do the same.
I taught mine at a young age that not everyone is the same and hope they would not be “the ones” who stared.
I had Tiff in Sunday School briefly one spring/summer when she was a very young teenager. Bro. Ron had sent her in a store with instructions to have the sales lady help pick out a swim suit. We were taking the girls on a beach trip. I believe He had just put Glenda in the Nursing home. Stacey was away.
That trip we guarded her so people wouldn’t stare! But for different reasons.
I have read your post since the beginning and thank God she has such a wonderful husband and family. You are a blessing!

Melanie Flynn

says:

We walk this path together Jeremy. The path where we hold someones hand who is “different”, yet just as much human as you and I. Not all kids understand, not all grown ups understand. But then I think there’s a few that God gives a heart too like no other. Their patient. Their kind. Their a helper. Their meek. I pray there’s always one with that heart in my child’s life as he grows up ❤️

Doug Green

says:

Jeremy, I can’t recall reading one of your post looking to be uplifted or inspired. I have read them all and they are saved to refer back to.
I think the reason you are followed as well as you are is we all have the cracks. We all have those issues that most do not know we have. And we are allowed to relate through your words and stories that you are so good at writing. You are so brave to throw your life out there for the world to see. How you and Jay do what you do every day is to be admired and I know rewarded one day.
Please understand your families are loved more than I hope you know.
And also understand some cracks just show more than others but we all have them.
You are loved, my friend.

Phoebe Kebbel

says:

No matter the content, your blog inspires me. Your honesty in all things reminds me that all feelings matter, have worth , and can make change happen. My prayers continue for you and Tiff and the children.

Dianne Montgomery

says:

I’m with Doug Jeremy. We love ya’ll and this is our way to connect with the real Sims family. Whether triumph or tragedy, abased or abounding, we are here, not to be inspired but just to let you know that we care. That is how we can help you; reading your words, hearing your heart and affirming that you and Tiff and your girls do matter!

Beth burnett

says:

Just remember, as these people stare, they are unknowingly getting a life lesson. And that is what love really looks like. I saw that myself when Glenda was sick and Ron took care of her. It taught me how to love and serve my husband, who now walks with a walker, and needs me to wait on him, help him with daily needs. Love comes in many different forms. It’s not always the fairy tale life. But it is still love. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Marla McLane

says:

Love learning about your family and all the adventures and challenges through your writings. You all are truly blessed to have each other. I love the love that is always woven throughout. Thanks for sharing this journey with such openness and honesty.

Morgan Dudley

says:

Your transparency is uplifting. There are so many people going through things that they feel they should hide. Even though it doesn’t have a happy feeling, it is speaking to someone that needs to see the honesty and heartache. People are moved by your life and your story. That’s why we read. I love seeing you guys out, and though I am not sure if she remembers me I still try to speak to her like nothing has changed. She deserves to be made feel important, and you do a great job at it even if she can’t always tell you. Love you guys and I am always praying.

Stephanie Wright

says:

Next time you catch a kid staring at you in DQ, ask him/her if they’d like to meet your beautiful Tiff. I guarantee they would be changed forever to meet such a beautiful person. Love you all!

Cathy Jones

says:

Jeremy, your stories are such a blessing to so many! Most of us aren’t secure enough to put our vulnerabilities out there for the world to see. Thanks for sharing and for being “real”, which is a lost art these days. I see you and Tiffanni as an amazing testimony of being faithful no matter what life brings you. I admire you both!!!! I cant count the hundreds of times I’ve prayed for Tiffanni to be healed! I’m still hoping to see that day! But in the meantime, you are blessing us with your experiences and helping us to understand how to responde to people with handicaps and sicknesses we don’t understand. The fact is we dont have a clue what to do, but pray! We will continue to pray for your family, including your Mom and Dad. All I can say is thanks!

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