Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Our Land – The road of kindness

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.

  • Jennifer P. - Oh I love this and thank you for introducing Joy to us, Kristi. Kindness from strangers is the best. More people should see the beauty of our children and the fun in sharing bread to feed the ducks.July 31, 2013 – 10:33 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - Hi Jennifer,
    Yes, you should check out Joy’s lovely blog! And I agree – more people should see the beauty of our children.July 31, 2013 – 10:34 amReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Joy, how can they not look at Sunny without kindness. I applaud you for always looking at the sun rather than darkness.July 31, 2013 – 10:48 amReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Thank you! I loved it. 🙂July 31, 2013 – 10:50 amReplyCancel

  • Lori Lavender Luz - So resonant: “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.”

    Thank you for guest posting, Joy. May there be much more sunny for you and Sunny.July 31, 2013 – 10:54 amReplyCancel

  • Considerer - Joy, this is stunningly beautiful. I love the analogy of the car journey. It’s so saddening to hear the opposition and judgement you’ve come up against, but SO heartwarming to hear about that young lady and her generous gift and the way Sunny touched her heart.

    You guys are so wonderful, and you’re such a special Mama to Sunny and I am so pleased to call you my friend. You are truly an inspiration and I’m THRILLED that you’re part of Our Land.

    Keep driving into the sunshine, Joy 🙂July 31, 2013 – 11:01 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - I truly believe there are more people in the world like the woman who shared her bread than people like your judgmental former friend. I hope your journey with Sunny leads you to many more wonderful people and experiences. You describe your “travels” so eloquently, Joy – thank you for sharing!July 31, 2013 – 12:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Joy, your words were just so beautiful and lovely. I can tell just how much you love your Sunny and I am truly so happy to have gotten to know you through blogging. Thank you for sharing this here and please do hold onto the good, because there are really some wonderful people still out there and for the ones that aren’t you never going to change them and they truly aren’t worth your time or energy. I have learned this myself with some many different situations over the years and as much as it hurts us, we are stronger and better people then they ever could be!July 31, 2013 – 1:27 pmReplyCancel

  • SocialButterflyMom - Major goosebumps over here. I’m glad that the kind lady could see Sunny’s sunshine 🙂July 31, 2013 – 1:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle Liew - Beautiful, Joy and Kristi! I think we all need empathy!July 31, 2013 – 3:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly - I just love this post. Thanks a lot for sharing, Joy, and thank you for providing the patform, Kristi! People can be horrible sometimes, and I wonder if they even notice.

    I remember when Lily was just born, that little child that I had wanted so badly and loved more than my own life. I was just your normal happy young mother out and about with her baby, sitting at a cafe and enjoying a coffee while looking at my baby when an old lady came over to look at her, telling her how cute she was. Then she turned to me with the coldest eyes ever, taxing me, and announced that I was at least young enough to have a couple of boys soon. THANK YOU, lady!!! And that was only the first time I was criticized, belittled, or felt sorry for by other people, just because I have girls.

    Don’t let it get to you, Joy.. Ever!July 31, 2013 – 4:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Unless people walk in our shoes, they just don’t understand. Beautiful post.July 31, 2013 – 8:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Deb @ Urban Moo Cow - Oh my goodness, this made me cry. That random kindness of strangers makes me cry way more than the random inconsideration. Sometimes I cry because I think the mean people are right, that I don’t deserve the kindness. I’m so glad you know that you and Sunny do.July 31, 2013 – 10:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Jen - You put this so beautifully Joy! Thank you! I still have problems with my 7yo because he has persistent auditory sensory processing disorder. So he is pretty much always the loudest person anywhere we are. Of course people stare, and talk behind there hands. Sometimes I feel self-conscious and ask him repeatedly to try and lower his voice. Sometimes I know that we are somewhere it doesn’t matter and just look straight ahead and smile at my sweet bright boy. Shame on them for making assumptions. Great post!August 1, 2013 – 9:44 amReplyCancel

  • [email protected] - Thanks for the introduction to Joy. Now if you will excuse me, my eyes are leaking for some reason and I need to find a tissue.August 1, 2013 – 12:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel - As a teacher of students with special needs, I have seen so much prejudice and judgment that, unfortunately, it no longer surprises me. It continues to make my heart hurt, though. It did when I read this post. What amazes me is how people’s reactions are so much more a reflection on them than children. I’m glad you are able to see the beauty too. Thank you for sharing it in this post.August 1, 2013 – 1:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia Bishofs - I don’t typically cry or get goosebumps but Joy, your post went straight into my soul. As a mother of two boys, constantly fearing them being judged, not for any particular reason, just because I’m an anxious person, I felt like crying reading about the mature “lady” telling you that your son should not touch the clothes with his “dirty hands”. I’ve long noticed that people are so quick to judge sometimes, so sure of their own ultimate righteousness never bothering to check the facts before accusing. The split road metaphor you chose seems very appropriate. With more posts and blogs like yours and Kristi’s I hope we can shift things around.August 1, 2013 – 1:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Joy. I am so sorry you have experienced such judgment in your parenting journey, and I am glad to hear you have also experienced those uplifting encounters that restore your faith in the world. You are a fantastic mama. 🙂August 1, 2013 – 3:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Thank you for sharing this. It’s something everyone should read. I want to be a person who restores someone’s faith in the kindness of people. August 1, 2013 – 3:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Clark Scottroger - very moving Post.August 1, 2013 – 6:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Joy @ icansaymama - Thank you for all your wonderful, encouraging, and heartfelt comments! They really mean a lot to me!!August 22, 2013 – 3:24 amReplyCancel

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