I had the strangest, yet incredibly inspiring conversation with my students today.
Oddly enough, the conversation topic? Eczema.
I suffer from eczema, which takes up residence on my face and scalp. I can hide it pretty well sometimes, but other times, like now, with the seasons changing, it is in a major flare up.
And I can't hide it. No matter how hard I try.
So today, as I sat in front of 25 pairs of eyes, and I had white blotches all over my face.... I decided to be honest with them, and head off any odd stares or questions.
"Do I have white stuff all over my face?" I asked them. They all nodded, rather solemnly, at that. "I have eczema, which means spots of my skin get all itchy and flaky sometimes. Today is one of those times. I know it looks funny, sort of like a clown...." (more nods, and a few giggles,) "but if I'm not careful, it really starts to hurt! And this morning, I was in such a hurry to get to school, I forgot to put my cream on. So I put it on just now, and that's what all the white splotches are."
Silence. I was a little worried. I've never been that blatant about my eczema before, with anyone (except my treatment team, of course) And here I was, explaining it to a bunch of 8-9-10 year olds.
A small miracle happened that really made my heart leap just a little bit. One by one, students started sharing their experiences with eczema. Some have it themselves, and as one child said "In the winter, I have to put TWO layers of cream all over my body in the morning!" While another chirped up "My sister has it all over her belly and back, I rub the lotion on for her sometimes." And another, "I have it all over my hands and arms, and in the winter, it gets so bad it sometimes bleeds!"
The stories kept coming. And no one said yuck or gross or eww or anything. Even when several kids chimed in that they too, experience cracking skin and bleeding when it gets bad.
No one flinched.
For some reason, it felt like a very important conversation to me. I grew up so ashamed of all my "issues"..... I don't know why, it might have been one that rolled off their backs never to be thought of again..... but deep down, I'm hoping that it showed the kids that sometimes, the things we might not like about our bodies, aren't as bad as we think they are, because we're not alone in our struggles.......