Friday, November 8, 2013

Topic of Conversation?

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.......


  1. What a beautiful post!!! I know people always say honesty is the best policy but it doesn't feel like it sometimes, does it? When you're facing down a roomful of questioning eyes and you don't know how they're going to react to what you say (and whether or not it will make you feel worse about something you already feel pretty bad about). And then THIS happens - such a lovely moment of truth and empathy and trust.

    I'm so glad you decided to share, not only with your students, but with us, too xxx

    1. I can not tell yo how freeing it was to have that conversation with the kids. It's been very refreshing, being more open and transparent (appropriately, of course!) with my students. They're more capable of understanding than I gave them credit for!

  2. Yay for you for allowing yourself to be so vulnerable - and I'm thrilled at the gentle and accepting response you received! It just goes to show that sometimes the walls we put up aren't nearly as necessary as we think they are. It's like by showing your imperfection, you gave your students permission to admit they are imperfect too and that is such a great gift in life.

    1. Those stinking walls...... you're right - trusting my students with my own imperfections (of which there are plenty) they probably are starting to realize they don't need to be perfect, either!


So? What do you think?