I see them when we’re out and about. Those people who can’t help but stare at my boy.
It starts almost the moment they become aware of him. He’s easy to notice. It doesn’t matter if he’s happy, excited, scared, or upset. They can’t help but notice him. If he’s happy or excited, they’ll see him hopping up or down, waving his arms, flapping his fingers. It’s like he has so much feeling inside him that he’ll explode if he doesn’t let it out.
The same holds especially true when he’s scared or upset.
Those times are worse. Those times when he’s throwing himself to the ground, tears streaming down his face, screaming his heart out. Every limb is flailing, lashing out at me as I try to calm him. That’s when all eyes are really drawn to him. That’s when I see the heads shake, sometimes in pity, other times in disapproval. In that single moment, I can almost hear them:
“What’s wrong with that kid?”.
“Why can’t he control him?”.
“That boy needs a good spanking!”.
“Thank God my kid’s not like that!”.
That’s when I want to stand up and shout to them the one thing I so desperately want them to hear:
I want them to keep staring. I want them to see that this is only a moment, an exception rather than the rule. I want them to keep watching for what happens after he calms down. I want them to see the sweet, happy little boy who has given my life new meaning. The boy that loves music and Minions and Disney and any scrap of nature that he can get his hands on. The boy who makes everyone smile when he greets them with, “Hello, Baby!”.
I want them to see the boy who does his best Flashdance impression when something excites him so much that he just has to dance, the same boy that stops dead in his tracks when he’s walking through the water tunnel at the aquarium, completely mesmerized by the sights before his eyes.
I want them to keep staring, because if they take the time to watch him long enough, to see what happens after actually get to know him a little, then they won’t be able to help falling in as much love with him as anyone else who’s really gotten to know him. His family. His teachers. The lonely man at the park he saw crying. The same one he ran up and gave a hug to before we could stop him, who thanked him so much for turning his entire day around.
The boy who will give anyone a chance.
That’s who my boy is. Not the “weird kid” who can’t control his arms and hands. Not the “spoiled brat” having a meltdown in the middle of the store. The boy who’s just like any other boy in that he has good moments and bad, and the bad ones don’t tend to last that long. The boy who’s got an infinite amount of love and kindness in his heart to spare.
That’s what I want to tell them. The people staring, shaking their heads, judging. I don’t, though. I don’t because if my boy is that upset, or scared, or having that bad a day, then I have something much more important to focus on. Him.
In the end, he’s all that matters. Not those who would snicker, or judge, or roll their eyes. Not those who don’t know any better. You see, my boy has taught me quite a bit since he came into my world, and the most important thing he taught me is this – don’t judge a person based on one bad moment. Those moments are just snapshots. They don’t give you the whole picture.
So they can just go on and keep staring, if they like. Given enough time, they’ll see the whole picture; a picture of a boy who has been burdened with physical and mental challenges most couldn’t dream of. A boy who doesn’t let those same challenges stop him from reaching out and making the world a better place for every person whose life he touches.
If he can do that, we can all do that.