When 4 People Tested My Faith in Humanity, 3 People Restored It
I attended my sister’s college graduation the other day. I was the beaming proud big sister anxiously walking into the packed university center with my 4-year-old and 8-year-old sons in tow. We made our way up the ramp, and my 4-year-old held the door for me as I pushed my 8-year-old in his shiny wheelchair. We stepped inside to find hundreds upon hundreds of people hurriedly walking to their seats, so we quickly slipped into the bustling line. It was then that my love for humanity was tested…
To the man who thought it was OK to jump in front of me while I pushed a 70-pound wheelchair with a sweet little boy in it and then get upset when I touched your leg with the chair’s footrest, I’m sorry I bumped into you. I’m sorry you felt the urgency to make your way in front of me because obviously having to walk behind me and my 4-year-old son was just unacceptable. I’m sorry you turned around and glared at me when the chair skimmed your pant leg. I’m sorry you scoffed at my apology. But what I’m most sorry about was that my wide-eyed 4-year-old witnessed you do this. I don’t want him for one second to think it’s acceptable to rudely force himself in front of someone else or laugh at apologies. The world doesn’t revolve around him — or you for that matter.
To the lady who stared at me with her “ugh” face as I gave my son his 15 medications through his feeding tube in the corner, I’m sorry you had to see this. I’m sorry you had to see a teeny, tiny glimpse into my life of special needs. I’m sorry you felt the need to stretch your neck over the side of the banister so you could peek at the monstrosity of a feeding tube while you told the person next to you to also look. But what I’m most sorry about is that there’s a possibility one of my sons saw you staring at us with your “ugh” face. I don’t want my children thinking it’s OK for them to gawk at others and their differences. No one is inferior to them — or you for that matter.
To the lady who told us to “pick up and hold him so my daughter can sit down,” I’m sorry you felt you and your daughter were more worthy of a seat than my son. I’m sorry you didn’t ask this in a courteous way because I would have gladly picked up my son so your daughter could sit down. I’m sorry that when we did move you didn’t say “Thank you” and that you just expected us to give into your demands. But what I’m most sorry about is that my 4-year-old witnessed you being extremely rude, disrespectful and demanding. I’m teaching my children to treat others with respect no matter who they are or what the situation is. Courtesy is not below them — or you for that matter.
To the crowd of people who thought it was OK to stand in the middle of the sidewalk as I patiently stood with my children waiting for you all to step aside, I’m sorry you had to move your conversation so we could pass. I’m sorry I couldn’t just walk in the grass to go around your discussion, which was directly in the path of hundreds of others, too. I’m sorry it was muddy that day and wheelchair wheels don’t take kindly to mud. I’m sorry you got upset when I said, “Excuse us!” as I tried passing you. But what I’m most sorry about is that my kids, along with the long line of others behind me, saw this play out. I don’t want my boys to think they can take over any space and then be rude to another human being. It isn’t all about them — or you for that matter.
How can my children rationalize what I’m teaching them when they see grown adults do everything I tell them not to? I want my kids to love others more than they love themselves. I want them to be humble. I want them to enjoy making others happy. But above all else, I want them to be kind.
Fortunately, my boys are provided with everyday instances where they encounter people who display respect and love for one another.
To the manager at the grocery store who saw me pushing my son’s wheelchair while pulling a cart full of groceries throughout the store to finally stand in line behind six others with a child needing suctioning every few minutes, thank you. Thank you for opening a free checkout lane and ringing up my groceries yourself. Thank you for acknowledging the two-hour feat I’d just accomplished all while having to attend to my son’s secretions. Thank you for acting upon your desire to help me in my time of exhaustion. But most of all, thank you for displaying kindness and empathy in plain sight for everyone to see — especially my observant little boys.
To the little boy who happily approached my boys at the park and asked them to come play, thank you. Thank you for your acceptance of my son and his brothers. Thank you for reminding me there are indeed children out there who just want another kid to play with, no matter who they are or what they look like. Thank you for having parents who instilled love and acceptance of others into your beautiful, little heart. But most of all, thank you for looking beyond this big, bulky, blue wheelchair and seeing the child sitting in it with playful eyes.
To the older lady walking past my family at my 4-year-old’s T-ball game at the exact moment my older son spilled his drink all over himself and his brother’s chair, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to stop on your way to your seat to bring us extra napkins and help me wipe down the wheelchair. Thank you for giving a kind smile to my boys as you made small talk about what they were planning to do this summer. Thank you for placing your hand upon mine and saying, “Looks like you’re doing a great job, Mom.” But most of all, thank you for allowing my children to observe your caring, cheerful spirit as you helped someone in need.
This is what gives me hope for humanity.
Let’s stop living to please ourselves, and let’s practice love instead of anger. We live in this world together and have a long way to go. So in the mean time, I’ll be here trying to teach my children to love and respect others with a kind smile as I hold onto hope. Don’t worry humanity, I’m not giving up on you.
A hopeful momma
A shorter version of this post originally appeared on My Blessed Little Nest.
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