I normally don’t notice the stares that come Samuel’s way when we are in public. And, if I do, I brush it off. Mostly, the reaction to my son is positive.
Dining in for lunch at a local restaurant recently, the waitress said she loves Samuel’s big expressive eyes. My heart was touched. After lunch, my husband, Ralph, took Samuel to the car as I paid the bill. Another waitress saw me and asked, “Where is your son?” I chuckled inside. My son is more popular than me. I explained he was in the car. She nodded, “I just love him.”
These are the comments I store up in my heart. These kind souls see past the diagnosis, past the tracheostomy, past a young boy in a stroller and instead see a full of joy boy whose smile lights up the room. They see a child and are endeared to him.
Then, there are times when I see a stare and not think anything of it. We recently enjoyed a meal at a fast food restaurant. Samuel was next to me in the stroller asking for cereal. Handing him his morsel, I looked up and noticed someone watching the exchange. I observed this but went back to enjoying my meal. Then, I noticed other patrons looking our way. All of a sudden, I felt the whole restaurant was watching us. Since our meal was completed, we left quickly.
Again, brushing this all aside, I closed the door to the establishment and let the sunshine warm my face. Ha, I thought to myself, it’s probably all in my head. Thankfully, my son was blissfully unaware.
Our next stop was at a big box store. Little did I know, this would be no ordinary visit. Completing our purchases, we all moved to the check out. Ralph went ahead and waited for me on a bench near the registers. I watched as the store clerk helped a new customer in front of me.
After my wait, the clerk processed my items. Approaching Ralph with our purchases, I noticed the look of concern on his face. He told me some kids were throwing pebbles at Samuel. I looked up to see two young boys, maybe six years and nine years old, hiding behind their mother. Ralph said the pebble missed the stroller by inches.
My mouth dropped. I grappled to contend with this turn of events. We decided it was best to leave. As we walked out, the boys stared at us. Loading our purchases in the van, I noticed the mother stopped as she was leaving. A conversation ensued, apologies were offered, the mother promised punishment, and with no one hurt, all was forgiven.
A question remained though. Why would the boys throw a pebble at Samuel? Did they see my son as different and respond in this way? Is that how children handle something they don’t understand? How can we bring awareness about disabilities to children? How can we teach them children with tracheostomies, feeding tubes, ventilators and other special needs are at the core still children.
In our case, our son is well loved, full of life and brings joy to the hearts of many. His life has great purpose. If those boys realized my son is a living miracle, would they have reacted like they did? This kind of awareness fosters kindness, understanding and compassion. Qualities we’d all like our children to emulate.
How can you help your children foster this kind of understanding?
~ Watch a Special Olympics program with your kids, commenting how inspiring the participant’s are to overcome their shortcomings and achieve success.
~ If you know of a special needs family, ask them if your kids can ask questions. Children ask me why my son needs a tracheostomy. I explain my his lungs are not as strong as theirs, so the trach helps my son breathe. The children accept the explanation easily.
~ Children love animals. I recently saw a video on Facebook showing a dog who was disabled. The owner made modified wheels so the dog could “walk” on his hind legs. This would be a good object lesson to share with a child. Or, watch the movie, Dophin Tale. This may help your children see a disability as an extraordinary ability.
What ways have you taught your children awareness? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I read each one.
Written By: Evelyn Mann
Author, WIP, A Miracle In My Living RoomHelp your children see a disability as an extraordinary ability. Click To Tweet