It’s possible that extreme rudeness and immense kindness have always existed around me.
However, until I became a parent of a child with special needs, I was oblivious to it.
Until I was thrust into this life, I had no idea how broad the spectrum of human character really can be.
Now, living in a seemingly different world altogether, we experience both ends of this spectrum every single day.
I have sadly observed utter ignorance and intolerance….and on the other hand, I’ve gratefully witnessed the sincerest graciousness and humanity.
A couple months ago, my family was shopping in our favorite bookstore.
My husband and son were perusing the bookshelves and looking at vintage vinyl records, while I pushed my daughter, Ryleigh, in her wheelchair to the children’s section.
She is eight years old, nonverbal, and completely filled with joy. She was clapping and loudly squealing with excitement as we rounded the corner to look for “Pete the Cat” books.
A little boy stopped right in front of us, very abruptly, and just stared at us.
Gently easing the wheelchair around him, I politely said, “Excuse us, please.”
Children stare…it’s a behavior that we’ve experienced many times, but I was hoping his manners would kick in and he would at least reciprocate the smile my daughter gave him.
To my dismay, his mother soon approached him, nudged him to move on, and then gave us the same cold gaze.
RUDE. How much effort does it take to show some consideration?
As if that wasn’t enough thoughtlessness to encounter, we saw her again in the parking lot as we were leaving.
She was parked right beside us and impatiently huffed as she had to wait for me to transfer my daughter to her car seat.
We were an inconvenience to her, and she didn’t mind showing it.
A few weeks after our brush with discourtesy, we had an experience of sweet humanity. Ryleigh and I were in a waiting room, as she needed chest x-rays done.
A little girl across the room was watching us. I heard her whisper to her grandmother, “Can I go speak to her?”
The grandmother kindly asked my permission for her to come join us.
I smiled and welcomed them both over.
The little girl told us that she was six years old and that she loved Ryleigh’s sparkly unicorn shirt. She sat with us and shared how she had broken her finger and had to have an x-ray too.
Her grandmother explained that the child never met a stranger, and that she just loved being around other kids.
As we chatted, waiting to be called, I learned that the gentle grandmother had worked as a Special Education Teaching Assistant in the past.
She was warm and kind; her granddaughter possessed those same wonderful qualities.
It really doesn’t take much to make or break someone’s day. Our actions speak quite loudly.
Even a simple smile or a positive acknowledgement can go such a long way.
Be thoughtful. Be friendly. Show courtesy.
Teach your children to show respect and understanding towards others.
You wouldn’t believe the difference it could make.