USA TODAY - Most days, parents would prefer their toddlers not receive worldwide attention.
But Kelly Bossley of Denver has every reason to be proud of her 2-year-old daughter, Lydia. Bossley wrote about her daughter, who has a large port-wine stain birthmark on her face, calmly responding to some kids at preschool by handing her teacher a book to help them understand.
Bossley, who grew up in Storm Lake, Iowa, wrote about her pride on the Facebook page Love What Matters. The Huffington Post and other media, including in Europe, picked up the story.
Bossley is also mom to Lydia's twin, Nolan.
"She is a firecracker but also very nurturing and empathetic. She loves books, dancing, making art and taking care of her doll babies," Bossley said Monday.
Port-wine stain birthmarks are present at birth and appear on faces and other parts of the body, according to the Mayo Clinic's website. Laser treatment is very common.
Question: What led to your post on Facebook?
Answer: Lydia was born with a port-wine stain birthmark and has received 28 laser treatments so far to keep it healthy.
Unlike some birthmarks that go away on their own or can be removed, port-wine stains can progressively darken, thicken and spontaneously bleed. …
The treatments leave her bruised and swollen for several weeks. Last Monday (Oct. 17) was her first day at preschool following a treatment.
I was nervous when she was starting preschool because I didn't know how the other kids would react to the fresh bruising and had donated the book Sam's Birthmark (Griffin Group Publishing; parents Martha and Grant Griffin wrote it to help kids with a noticeable birthmark) to her new preschool class when she first enrolled last month. It is my understanding that the teachers read the book, but there had been some new students that later joined the class.
The book was kept in her cubby, so when she noticed her classmates reacting to her very bruised face following a treatment, her first instinct was to grab the book and give it to her teacher to read again.
Instead of getting upset or self-conscious, Lydia handled the situation with so much grace and confidence, which helped put my fears to rest of how she might be treated by her peers in the years to come. I just knew she was going to be OK, and I cried nearly the entire way to work out of relief and pride.
I later shared it on my personal Facebook page and it took off from there.
Q. What has been the reaction since this story has been circulated on social media?
A. It is so crazy that an observation I quickly shared on my personal Facebook page could be spread globally within just a few days.
I noticed almost immediately that it was resonating on some level since the response from my friends was even greater than when I announced I was expecting twins. A friend suggested I submit it to Love What Matters, and it took off from there.
I have been contacted by reporters from the Huffington Post, the (London) Daily Mail, a Norwegian journalist and Caters News Agency. However, I have found her story published in more than a dozen languages when I did a Google search.
It has also been shared fairly widely on Facebook by friends, the author's of Sam's Birthmark, the Vascular Birthmark Foundation, Love What Matters, The Mighty, Huffington Post Parents, the Daily Mail in U.K. & Australia, Today (an Australian TV show) and even Ashton Kutcher (who's also from Iowa). There may be others I am not aware of as well.
Q. Is Lydia aware of the attention from your Facebook post?
A. She vaguely understands and seems to enjoy seeing her picture in different contexts when we show her. But she is most excited to see that her favorite stuffed dog, Muddy Paws, went viral with her.
He has a little mark on his face, too, and accompanies her to all her treatments in California, so we have always told her that he is her birthmark buddy. Her twin brother, Nolan, was happy to get some attention on Friday when the Daily Mail published some pics of them together.
Q. Has there been silver lining to this?
A. The absolute best part of this story going viral is all the attention it has brought to vascular birthmarks.
More awareness leads to great acceptance, so it my hope that Lydia's story might help make things a little easier for others with physical differences. I have contacted by a number of families that saw the story and was able to connect them with the Vascular Birthmark Foundation and the birthmark community available through various Facebook groups.
I also had several adults with birthmarks similar to Lydia reach out to me as well, which really warms my heart. Here is an example:
I wanted to thank you for the tremendous job you're doing raising your precious baby girl. I also have a port-wine stain on my face and can TRULY say, it's taken me 42 years to accomplish the self-assurance.
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