When the Ride Attendant Did the Strangest Thing for My Child


We preach to our children be nice. Don’t call others names. Be kind. Be a friend. But how many of us actually practice what we preach? I know I’ve fallen short way too often.

The thought of being kind to others has been on my mind lately, not because of personal issues but because of a recent visit to the fair. Yes, I learned something from the county fair.

Every Saturday we go to lunch and do some form of an outing with Bob. For eight hours a day his life is governed by school and therapists and basically practicing life skills. So, on the weekend we like to relax and cut loose a little. We try to drag him out of his comfort zone (our home) and bring him into the “real world.”

This Saturday we made the trek to the county fair. I’m sure you know the type — basic ferris wheel, kiddie rides, games where you can win a fish or a stuffed animal, french fries and hot dogs and elephant ears, oh my!

I can’t lie. I was nervous. I didn’t know how it would go. I asked my Facebook family for prayers, good thoughts or even good juju. I was reaching.

We arrive at the fair. Bob sees letters — words — that excite him. “What does that say, Mommy?” he asks. I oblige and answer, holding his hand a little tighter as the music and the smells and the people seem to barrel towards us. The funny thing is, you never really even notice all these things until your life is touched with autism. Our senses are accosted daily and the fair, well let’s just say that’s a whole lot to take in — especially when you’re little and autistic.

We get to the ticket booth and the hubs proceeds to buy tickets. He looks at me and asks how many should I get? I don’t know — depends on if Bob can handle this or not. Oh, what the hell… get 50 tickets. This could work!

Bob gripped my hand tightly and said, “I wanna go home. I’m scared.”

I told him we would walk a little further and if he wanted to go home we would.

We didn’t have to leave. He loved it! He rode the roller coaster not once but three times. We rode the tilt-a-whirl. I thought I was going to vomit. He smiled the entire time. He even tried his hand at throwing ping pong balls into bowls to win a fish. He won not one but two fish.

We moved on to a motorcycle ride. Even though it was October and technically fall, it was still hot as hades in South Carolina. Evidently the South didn’t get the memo. While we were standing and waiting our turn, the ride attendant proceeded to complain about the heat. I tuned her out. My only concern was that Bob got on and off the ride safely. As Bob mounted the cycle, the attendant helped him and then she did the strangest thing. I felt like I was looking at something that wasn’t a reality… but it was. She proceeded to roll up my child’s sleeves.

Evidently, because she was hot, she assumed Bob was as well. I watched this woman. I watched this person proceed to do an act of kindness — just seamlessly giving some relief to a child. That one act, that simple thing she did, meant the world to me.

The fumbling of her fingers as she rolled his sleeves up, the kindness she bestowed upon my child, didn’t cost either of us a thing. It was what it was — an act of kindness, just a simple act of kindness.

I leave you with this. Try to do a simple act of kindness. I know I’m going to make a valiant effort. Because you never know when the one thing you do, that one act, will impact another person’s journey.

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This post originally appeared on I’m Bob.

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