A couple of months ago, I bought a few yards of purple fabric and purple terrycloth so I could get some bibs made for Max. The drooling situation has not improved. It's because he has a lot of tension in his jaw; the drool pools and flows. (That sounds like it's straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.) One of Max's speech therapists recently showed me how to apply pressure to his mouth, pulling downward above his lips and upward below his bottom lip, so he'll become more aware of the fact that he needs to relax those muscles.
I am perfectly fine with being Max's official drool wiper but at eight, it's high time he took care of it himself. "Max, buddy, wipe your drool!" I'll say, and he'll flash me a grin and use his sleeve or, if he's wearing one, a terrycloth wristband. He doesn't really care that he does it, doesn't yet have the awareness that this is something that sets him apart from the other kids and makes them stare, and I'm glad for that. But the wet shirts are a pain. "He lacked something cool to mop up the drool!" says Dr. Seuss.
So I got this purple fabric and headed over with Max to visit a seamstress in our neighborhood who once made me a few seat cushions. I wanted him to be part of the process and request his own bandanas.
"I'm ur-ul AX!" is how Max introduced himself to her when she opened the door. When we went inside, sat down on her couch and I pulled out the fabric to show her, she wasn't at all surprised by the purple-osity.
"And what color bibs would you like? Tell Jaye!" I said to Max.
"Ur-ul!" Max said.
"And how many?" I asked.
"EN!" said Max. ("TEN!")
Within a few weeks she'd made us a trial bandana, which sagged within a couple of hours from wetness. I brought it back to her. "This is why I don't make clothing!" she said, but she was game to tighten up the neckline and sew a bunch more.
She emailed last week to say they were ready, eight of them, as much as the fabric would allow. "Don't worry about the bill—no charge. Hope Max likes them!" she wrote.
Oh. Wow. I knew they weren't that big of a deal to make, but still, they took time and labor.
"PLEASE, let me know what I can pay you!!! Seriously, these took work," I emailed back. No response.
While we were out on Sunday, I got an email from her: "My husband just left them for you and Max. Enjoy them!" And when we got home, sure enough, there was a bag o' bandanas on our front porch.
Max was ecstatic. Me, I was touched. And grateful. And also, if I'm being honest, a little uneasy. Because it reminded me that I have a child who people feel bad for. And I don't want people to feel bad for him, because it's isolating. Pity only sets my son apart from other kids and other people. I want him to be treated like any 8-year-old, as much as possible. I also don't want people feeling bad for me, either.
If I would have brought Sabrina over because she wanted, say, scarves made (or, more likely, shirts that looked like boy shirts with no style whatsoever, as that has been her preferred mode of dressing for the past year), I am sure I would have been charged. This woman sews for a living, not for charity. I wonder, too, if she really knew Max—a kid who plays with toy cars, rides a bike, watches YouTube videos and acts obnoxiously to his sister like any other kid his age—would she have made the bandanas for free? What she saw, though, was a kid who has issues with speech and who needs bandanas because of an issue with drool.
That's what nagged at me...even though I appreciated the kindness and her handiwork.
Today, I gave her a big shout out on a local mom e-loop I'm part of, and I'm going to figure out other business I can give her in the upcoming months of the non-purple kind.
Have you ever felt the same about kind gestures like these?