Hi friends. I’m so happy to say that this week’s Our Land contribution is by my awesome good friend Joy, who blogs about the reality and the beauty of her life with her little boy Sunny. She’s heartfelt, honest, and one of the sweetest people you will ever meet among bloggers. I’m not exaggerating – she is seriously one of the nicest people I’ve come across, like ever. Please check out her wonderful posts about her son leaving kindergarden this year, (which is more like preschool here in the US), her funny insights and her life in general over at I Can Say Mama. It’s worth it, I promise.
The road of kindness
I like to refer to our life with a child with special needs as a journey. Since my son Sunny was born we have travelled many, many miles on uncharted roads. There were huge bumps and deep valleys, the highest mountains and the darkest forests. There were twists and serpentines where we thought we would fall off the cliffs. But we always made it and continue down this road full of surprises, full of wonder and love.
The road we are on has always been a split one – one half being plastered with kindness and love, the other one with prejudice and rudeness. I want to forget about the bad parts of our trips. I want to focus on the beautiful sunsets we saw while we cruised along the coast line, enjoying the landscape.
I want to forget about that “muddy hole” I drove through that soiled my beautiful car. It was many years ago. Sunny was sitting in his stroller. There was this elderly lady we met outside a store while we waited for an appointment. While we waited, we looked at some of the clothes hanging on display outside the shop. Then, all of a sudden, she turned to me and said that I should keep my child from touching all those clothes with his dirty hands. I was taken aback because it came out of the blue and it was my first encounter with the unfriendliness of other people towards my son. I felt my heart beat inside my throat because her sudden address shocked me and made me wonder why she would even say this. I felt so bad.
This woman could have asked me some questions about my son and I would have told her that he just loved was obsessed with everything with stripes which is why he so eagerly examined the striped top. I also would have told her that he cannot eat by himself (although he sure was old enough) but has to be spoon fed and that he cannot walk yet and, therefore, he does not have a chance to make his hands dirty as long as he is sitting in his stroller. It hurt my feelings that she was so rude even though she did not know anything about us. She just looked at us and judged us.
I want to forget about that “dark cloud” that rained down on me without any warning. Some years ago, I met a former friend of mine coincidentally at an indoor playground. It was winter and we stood in the hall. While we chatted away, Sunny suddenly wanted to walk outside the playground building and I could not put him down because he did not own any shoes yet. When I came home I found an email from her in my inbox, accusing me of being a bad mother and keeping my son from making progress. She said she was shocked and dismayed by my behaviour. I felt like the worst mother in the whole world.
We had not had any contact for several months and she did not know anything about Sunny’s current state of development. If we had talked about it, I could have told her all the reasons why he did not have shoes yet. Sunny had just started to walk but he never wanted to walk anywhere else other than in our home. He always wanted to be carried around outside. Therefore, I had not bought him any walking shoes yet. However, on the day we met, he suddenly wanted to walk on the pavement and outside closed rooms for the first time EVER. I was totally surprised and happy and decided that now was the right time to buy him shoes. We could have celebrated this milestone together, but instead, she accused me of being a bad mother and I was so disappointed that she would ever think I would keep him from making progress.
Brush off the dirt, dry the car. Move on. I want to remember the beautiful parts of the road, the parts where our ride was smooth.
I never want to forget the parting clouds, the sun shining down on us warming our faces and our hearts. It was Mother’s Day last year and we were watching ducks and swans on a pond, Sunny being all excited about them. I noticed a young lady sitting on a bench close to us, constantly watching us. I got used to being watched and stared at in all those years, so I prepared myself and looked at her, trying to find out what she might be thinking, expecting her to judge us.
Instead, what I saw melted my heart. She looked at us with such a loving look in her eyes that I could not believe it because I am not used to this. I looked over to her several times and saw her smiling at me reassuringly and in such a friendly way, all the while examining us closely. I am sure she looked right into Sunny’s tender heart.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, beautiful lady, because you chose to be kind to us. You could have just spent your time on the bench, not noticing us, but instead you walked over to us and handed me some slices of bread out of your backpack, telling me that you would love to give them to my son so that he can feed the ducks. After we shred two slices and threw them happily into the water you insisted on giving us another one. Then you baffled me completely when you told us that you were on your final day your nine-day Lent trip, and that this very bread you gave us -for the joy of feeding ducks- would be the first thing for you to eat tonight since beginning your trip! You had bought the bread that same morning but insisted stubbornly on giving it to us. I do not even know if there was anything left for you after you gave it to us. I will never forget this meaningful and beautiful gesture, and the happiness it brought to your face as you watched Sunny gleefully feed the ducks with it. You shared your bread with us, and restored my faith in the kindness of people.
I want to further travel down this road of kindness and empathy. I am sure there will be many more bumps ahead, I am sure there will be more encounters with rude people. I am sure we will experience more prejudice, incomprehension, injustice. There will be more muddy holes and downpours. But I want to believe that the part of our road plastered with kindness and love will be the broader part. I want to believe that the sun will shine more often than the thunderstorms will rage. I want to believe that this world is still full of empathy and wonder – regardless of the bad encounters we will always also have. I want to believe in Our Land.
See? You love her too, huh. Go visit Joy and Sunny over at I Can Say Mama. Here’s a little bit more about them:
About Joy: Joy is a thirty-something who loves life, has a glass-is-half-full attitude (at least most of the time), enjoys good food, treasures friendships, and wishes for more empathy in this world. She supports Sunny in the best way possible, while trying not to forget to teach him that life is fun and ensuring that he has a wonderful childhood. You probably haven’t noticed that English is not her mother tongue. (I don’t notice)
About Sunny: Sunny is truly pure sunshine! His smile and laughter are absolutely contagious. He has the kindest personality, the biggest heart and is absolutely determined when it comes to learning something new. He has silky hair, soft and milky skin, and his eyes are like heaven on a sunny day.
Apart from that, he has a global developmental delay which means that his gross and fine motor skills are affected. Also, his receptive and expressive speech are significantly delayed (his receptive speech is quite good compared to the expressive speech, he understands most of what his parents say). He also has a sensory processing disorder and a feeding/eating disorder. Although he is not officially diagnosed as being on the spectrum he shows some autistic behaviour patterns.
About I Can Say Mama: Joy’s blog is called “i can say mama” because “Mama” is one of the few words that Sunny can say.