The Kindness of a Mom who Gets it

My husband’s team lost their football game Friday night. It was a tough loss to a rival and I know many people would love to forget it ever happened, but something wonderful happened at that game that I hope I never forget.  

I was tired and almost didn’t go. It had been a long week at school, but I felt guilty for missing last week’s game.

Eli reconfirmed my decision to go when I told him we were going bye bye and he replied, “football?” 

The fact that he remembered and understood that I told him earlier in the evening that we would go to dad’s football game made me smile and excited to go. 

My mother-in-law, Eli, and I got there right after the game started so we had to sit on the first row of the visitor side bleachers.

Not ideal for watching the game, but I knew it would be good for Eli. 

Eli was content with his popcorn and two cars he had to play with on the ground.

At some point in the first quarter, a little girl, who looked 5 or 6, ran up to me and said, “Can I play with him?”

I hesitated then replied, “Well, he doesn’t talk very much and he may not want to, but you are welcome to try.” 

While I was talking to the girl, Eli ran to the concession stand, wanting me to chase him.

As I walked him back to our seat, the little girl’s mom was standing there. She said, and as Eli ran back to the line, “Can she play with him?”

I said, “I told her he doesn’t talk much, but she’s welcome to try. He has autism so he struggles with stuff like that” 

The mom said back, “her brother has Down syndrome so she won’t mind trying to play with him at all.”

I’ll be honest, I fully expected the mom to tell her daughter he probably wouldn’t play and then walk away.

I wouldn’t have even been offended by that because it’s hard for kids to understand how to try to play with him or just be scared of that word altogether.

But as I walked back to get Eli, I heard the mom say, “you know how ____ has Down syndrome? Well this little boy has a disability that makes it difficult for him to communicate.”

When I returned with Eli, the mom sat down with her daughter and helped her play with Eli as I modeled to him what to do and say.

She prompted her daughter on what to say and do in response to what I had Eli doing. She didn’t even blink when Eli became aggressive and tried to hit the girl.

Since I was sitting right there, I was able to intervene and keep him from actually hitting her.

The mom prompted the daughter to say, “please do not hit me. It’s not nice.” 

What did Eli do?

He handed the girl the toy he initially didn’t want to give her. Eli was soon done playing and told the girl bye.

The mom explained that he was finished and they were done playing. 

I apologized for him trying to hit her and thanked her for helping.

She was so nice and explained that she remembered what it was like trying to teach her son how to interact and communicate with others. 

When she returned to her seat, I sat there with tears in my eyes. It was just so wonderful to be able to help Eli in a real life situation and apply what he has learned at his therapy center.

I was even more grateful for the wonderful mom to help her daughter so Eli could even have that opportunity.

We spent half- time of the game sharing stories about our boys and the joys of the smallest achievements when they struggle with tasks that we take for granted.

I will admit that sometimes in a large crowd like a football game, I find my mind wandering and saying to myself, “out of all of these people, why does my baby have to be one who struggles?” 

My rational brain knows that everyone has their own struggles and we never know what people are going through or have been through. But my heart has a hard time accepting that logic.  

However, this night, this random run in with a stranger and her sweet daughter reminded me that I should suppress those negative questions and instead look and hope for a connection to others who have also experienced similar struggles. 

It is within those moments that we find the encouragement to put on a smile and continue to challenge our kiddos who are just trying to find their place in such a challenging world.  

Written by, Amy Fields

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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