When My Child Felt Left Out, a Stranger Had a Powerful Response
Have you ever had a stranger do something so incredibly awesome it just makes you want to cry? I have. And it happened just this week. I pray the kindness and power of what the stranger did for me and my 4-year-old daughter impacts you the way it has impacted me. Some people make a mark on other lives that can never, ever be erased.
We went out as a family to a local place to eat. Everyday events like this have their challenges for every family, but more so for mine due to the complexity of my son’s needs and the fact we need to balance his needs with that of my daughter’s. We opted for the local carvery. No waiting to get orders taken, the kids can see what they want on their plates and we can eat together without the usual demands for nuggets and fries.
It’s a challenge to feed my daughter in such places because her diet is so restricted, but a little mashed potato, a few selected vegetables and a little gravy got her picking at her dinner while quietly coloring. Her twin brother had his usual loaded plate and was eating like a child who had never seen a dinner before. I promise you they are twins, but you would never believe it to see them eat!
However, even with food, my son’s attention span can only last a limited time, and he was soon clambering over his dad, wanting off to run around. A knowing look and wink of the eye was my signal that I was going to take over. To my 5-year-old son’s flapping, smiling delight, he was getting Mum. He brought a smile to my face, but then I glanced at my daughter and my heart sank. Eyes bunched up with tears ready to explode at any minute, and a tender voice so timidly saying through her beautiful blue eyes, “I want you to stay, Mummy.”
They both need me so differently. And whatever I do, one of them is about to protest publicly. I really must get that cardboard cutout of myself done. It’s the only way I can think of being in two places at once. And tonight I so want to be with both my babies.
I “chose” my son but prayed my daughter would know she wasn’t being rejected. I kissed her cheek quickly as my son vanished out of sight. “Come find Mummy, baby, when you have finished your dinner.” I worry she feels like her wants and needs don’t matter. This isn’t true, but how do you balance the physical and communicational needs of one child with the social and emotional needs of the other? Dad reassured her and encouraged her, but it just wasn’t enough.
As my son ran up and down in a little garden outside, a group of strangers watched on as they drank and ate and talked. One young couple watched him with smiling faces and pleasant eyes. And then my little girl appeared and held my hand in the warm sunshine as we stood side by side watching her energetic brother. The smiling strangers asked if it was her brother, to which she smiled and nodded. They invited us closer and handed her two coins, one for her and one for her brother. So very kind of them. And without prompting, my daughter said thank you. We exchanged a brief conversation that her brother had special needs and that the children were twins. The lady reached into her handbag and fished for something. I hoped it wasn’t more money. She found what she was searching for and beckoned my daughter to come nearer.
Looking my precious daughter in the eye, she spoke lovingly and tenderly to her as she asked her a question. “Would you like to see a picture of the most beautiful girl in the world?”
A whispered, “Yes.”
To which the stranger opened a little love heart makeup mirror and showed my daughter her reflection. To see my daughter smile and touch her reflection as she realized this stranger was talking about her was incredibly touching.
“You are so beautiful. Inside and out. Every time you look inside here, remember you are special.”
The words of a stranger were the exact words I believe she needed to hear that day. The lady gave her the mirror to keep, and my daughter has barely let it go since.
I thanked the lady and her partner for the coins, the gift and the joy they had brought to my heart. But how do you truly thank a stranger for saying exactly what you believe your 4-year-old needed to hear? I believe God puts people across our path at exactly the right time, and I’m thankful for that.
I believe we all need to hear this message, too. We can all feel left out at times. And every one of us needs to know we are beautiful inside and out. We are special. And my daughter now loves to tell me, “Mummy I am the most beautiful girl in the world.” Yes, baby girl, you are indeed.
Follow this journey on Faithmummy.
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