When a Couple Staring at Our Special Needs Family Came Over to Our Table
While sitting in the “best pizza” restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard about five years ago, my head was filled with my usual guilt-and-insecurity list:
– Not being rich enough to be on vacation on the Vineyard.
– Not being thin enough.
– Having three small children in a restaurant.
– Having an enormous diaper bag and still not being able to entertain the children.
– Having one of the children in a highchair when he was too old for one.
We didn’t go out much with our three kids when they were very little. When we did, the twin babies got a lot of attention. Needing two highchairs is cute when they’re babies. But this changed as they grew. One twin refused to sit in a highchair and used a regular chair like her big brother, while the other twin didn’t develop “typically.” He has global delays, anxiety, reflux, vomits almost daily and isn’t talking or walking as he should. He has fragile X syndrome. And life, especially in restaurants, can be really challenging. When we have to ask for a highchair for him, it breaks my heart every time we do it. I’m an anxious person and taking the kids out to restaurants often ends badly.
The pizza was taking a while. My daughter was toilet training so I made multiple trips outside to use the bathroom and tried to keep everyone happy in between. I felt like we were “that table,” the one no one wanted to sit near. Then an older couple across the restaurant stared at us. Yes, they stared and talked to each other quietly while looking at us. Like I wasn’t feeling self-conscious enough as it was.
When they finally got up to leave the restaurant, they came over to our table. I braced myself for whatever they were going to say, or worse, ask about our family.
Instead, they smiled and simply asked, “Are they twins?” Such a nice and normal question for a regular family. “My husband is a twin and he thinks they are, but I’m not sure,” the friendly wife said. And just like that, we were a regular happy family at a pizza place on vacation. I hope our smiles were enough of a thank you for them.