Hi there — yes, you.
I may not know your name, but I needed to tell you — from one mother to another — that your kindness did not go unnoticed today.
As we pulled into the parking lot for karate carpool this afternoon, I contemplated whether I should even get my 2½-year-old son Amos out of the car. His special needs often seem to add to his trying behavior, and being disruptive is never something I relish at the activities of his three older siblings. We often end up right back in the car anyway, and so it seemed easier to just not venture out.
Today though was different.
The weather was lovely and Amos had woken from a good nap and was eager to be outside. We saw you and some other moms sunbathing on the small concrete pad reserved for handicapped parking. Your own preschooler was surrounded by an assortment of small monster trucks and so, I hoped and thought perhaps Amos could join him. I realized then I had brought nothing with me; none of the toys that seem to placate restless toddlers. Amos spied the trucks as we walked over and said hello. Or at least I did. You smiled at me and nodded as I asked your son if Amos could share his beloved trucks.
Your son hesitated and watched you for cues. That’s when you smiled and nodded at him, tapping his back lightly for reassurance. It was then that he reminded himself out loud that although they were his trucks, he could share. We laughed together over this advanced coping mechanism and I exhaled a little, sitting down on the bench to join in the conversation. It was a conversation that I am excluded from more and more these days, as Amos often protests in these kind of situations, and I’m forced to remove both of us from even the most casual social interactions. I’m left defeated, unsuccessfully placating his frustration and wrestling his long thrashing limbs while the other mothers stare blankly and silently.
I asked the right questions and found out your son’s age and where you had found the enviable trucks. Your son, almost a year older than mine, played happily with Amos and voiced the names for each truck aloud. And when Amos grew tired and started to wander, you encouraged your son to wander with him.
For a few minutes in time, we were just two moms watching a friendship unfold. They played on a nearby discarded pile of sand and we monitored them loosely. Soon it was time to go and I manipulated Amos’ hand to clean up the trucks. You allowed us to help with this painstakingly slow process and offered a smile, not a quick “that’s not necessary.”
Thank you for your kindness, and for the small son who you have influenced to be the kind of person that makes the future seem not so scary — at least to this mama. It gave me hope for my Amos, as he ventures into the big world without the mother as his constant shadow and voice. I will not soon forget the two small boys, one chattering and one listening, soaking up the names of monster trucks, while playing beneath the handicapped sign.
I’m sorry I forgot to say thank you. The half-hour we spent together felt so comfortable; we felt so included. It brought me back to the time before we were ever labeled a “special needs family,” and I forgot for a minute what our new normal has become. Getting a taste of the old normal was like a breath of fresh air.
So thank you — for looking at us and simply seeing a mama and her 2½-year-old boy, who aren’t so different after all.