When M was born and I was suddenly the parent of a child with a considerable list of special needs, I was afraid. Too many nights I have laid awake filled with worry about all the troubles and challenges that M would face throughout his life.
One particularly all-consuming fear was how the world would treat him. I feared he would be teased mercilessly. Bullied. Taunted. Made fun of without ever realizing he was the butt of the joke. I imagined, at best, he would be ignored and left all alone.
I am a mother who can usually call it....but on this, I was blissfully, thankfully wrong. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. I can say now, that one of the blessings that has come with parenting M is being witness to the goodness and grace of people.
I have noticed that frequently, people go out of their way to do something kind for M:
The girl, one grade above M in school who is moving on to the middle school next year and wrote a letter to M telling him how much she would miss him.
M's peers who cheerfully greet M when we are out in the community or who find a way to include M in a game on the school playground or at the park.
The Santa who sat child upon child on his lap and gave each a candy cane...but who gently removed a bell from his suit and gave it to M and told him to 'always believe in Christmas'
The Amish farmer who took a liking to M and let him drive his buggy and gave him a tour of his dairy farm and gave him two helpings of ice cream. (*This one got its own post, "Mantra")
The owner of the horseback riding ranch who insisted that M be able to experience a full trail ride and did everything possible to make that happen (after I suggested that M have a simple pony ride) and gave M (and Miss J) horse shoes...just because. (*This too got its own post too, "In the Saddle)
The barber who also volunteers at the firehouse and invited M (and Miss J and my very excited was-going-to-be-a-fireman-when-he-grew-up-but-became-an-engineer-instead husband) on a private tour of the fire station.
The zoo keeper who invited M (and Miss J) to come behind the scenes to hand feed raisins and cheerios to the lemurs.
The checker at Trader Joe's who noticed that M was fascinated by the scanner and invited him behind the register with her and let him scan our groceries.
It is the people who walk in the parades who notice M and make sure he gets one (or two, or ten) of whatever they happen to be passing out.
It is the people who throw an extra handful of candy in his bag at Halloween.
It is the servers in the restaurants who show up at our table with complimentary ice cream or cookies.
It is the complete strangers who talk to M in check out lines at Target and hug him tight before he leaves.
And then there was today....
I took M on an outing today to a local kiddie amusement park. During our visit I had M sit and rest on a picnic table in the shade. A few tables over, a girl was having her birthday party and cupcakes were about to be served. As I sat with M a woman came over and tapped my shoulder.
"Excuse me, " she began "We are about to have cupcakes. Can you son eat them? May I offer him one?
M answered for me, "Yes, please!"
He sat there at the picnic table, happy to have been given a cupcake.
I sat there watching him, happy for that gesture of kindness and surprised that a mom, busy with her own child's party, noticed a little boy sitting several tables away and took a moment from that party to invite a stranger for a cupcake.
Sometimes life isn't all sunshine and cupcakes...but thankfully, some days are.