Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Lamb Chop Incident

The other night while we were out at dinner, we encountered the usual gawkers. As Jordan walked with his walker, almost everyone in the restaurant craned their necks to stare at him, shouting the usual things like, "You're doing great!" How do THEY know he's doing great? Maybe he is declining, rather than improving. They have no idea.

Then, when we were in the store, this couple behind us in line saw Jordan grabbing the Lamb Chop dolls. I told him no, he couldn't have one. I was buying him something else. The man behind us said, "Aww, you like those Lamb Chops?" It was then that I knew, and cringed--they were going to buy one for him. I tried to get us out of there fast, but the woman came running up to us and gave him the Lamb Chop. I wish I would have said, "No thank you" graciously. But I was just cringing, unable to come up with a good spur-of-the-moment reply. I told him to say thank you, as I gritted my teeth.

The woman thought buying him something gave her permission to duck down to his level, ask his name, and touch him on the head, saying, "GOD BLESS YOU!" in the most dramatic voice. He said his name was Jordan, and then he turned to continue walking. What a marvel he must have seemed to them!!!!

They were behind us, so nicely holding the door for us. Oh, thanks, I can't hold a door on my own for him. When we were outside, the man touched him on the head and gave him another dramatic "God bless you."

How great those two must have felt that night! They gave this "struggling," "handicapped," oh wait, no, "special needs" child a stuffed animal. They gave him a chance at joy, if only for one fleeting moment. I'll bet they tell their whole congregation about what they did!

But believe it or not, even a child who walks with a walker needs to learn "no" from his mother. If he thinks he can just ask for anything in the store and someone will buy it for him, well, that's not a really good lesson for him to learn.

And what he needs most is not a stuffed toy. What he needs is just one day when people don't gawk at him, make him and me feel different because he uses a device to help him walk. He needs one day when strangers don't think they have the right to buy him something his mother does not want him to have and then to touch him. He needs one day when he can just be a kid and I can just be his mother. Without any pity, without any "good job"'s or cheers for doing what any other son and mother do every day--go shopping, eat dinner, and walk along together.