Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The amazing thing the mom at the other table did

This weekend, we went out for ice-cream to celebrate Max's homecoming from camp. (As if we needed an excuse for ice-cream.) I figured Max would get his usual, chocolate and vanilla swirl, but he wanted cookie dough, too—clear proof that camp had broadened his perspective and letting him miss summer school was worth it. 

There was a family with two little boys seated at the table next to us. Suddenly, I heard the mom say, "Everyone talks in their own unique way." Instantly, I knew what was going on: one of her boys had asked about Max's speech.

I still feel a twinge in my heart when I overhear anyone talking about Max. Part of me wishes that his differences did not make him the subject of conversation. But part of me also understands that when children are around people with disabilities, the encounters can serve as springboards for discussion. This time, Max was the springboard. He is not yet aware of the stares, whispers or remarks about him. That's another double-edged sword: If Max did realize it, then he could be his own advocate...but he'd know. For now, I'm the one who notices.

As the parent of a boy with disabilities, I ache for kids and adults to see what I do: my child, i.e., a person. It's not unexpected that the disabilities are what people tend to notice first. But sometimes, they are all that people can see.

Parents can play a major role in shaping children's views of those with disabilities. Often, I hear ones go "Shhhh!" when their children ask about Max. Not this mom. I tried to hear what else she said but couldn't. A few minutes later, she said hi to Ben and Max. Max said hi back and Ben ducked his head (he's shy). When we left, I flashed her a smile. "Enjoy your beautiful family!" I said. "Same to you!" she answered.

It was the most simple thing in the world. This woman's child asked about Max, and she gave him the very answer I give children when they've asked about Max: Everyone talks in their own way.

Everyone moves in their own way, thinks in their own way, behaves in their own way. Sometimes people need help getting their words out or getting around. We all share basic needs: to be loved, give love and feel respected.

While I'd like to think this mom and son's discussion will continue, it was so heartening to hear just that one sentence.


  1. So glad to hear it. It's so lovely when you feel like people really get it.

  2. The noticing of Max's difference is likely an ingrained evolutionary response that we don't have much control over. The dealing with it the way this mom did is what one can hope and Exocet from others. Let me say though that inclusive education did more than anything else for my typically developing children to really understand and see the person and not just the disability.

  3. This is such a sweet post! I feel like we get questions a lot about our daughter's walker and leg braces, and I always love it when moms are so friendly to my daughter and take the time to teach their kids that some people are different and that it's okay!



Thanks for sharing!

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