As a mother to a child with special needs, Leah Carroll knows what it's like to have people stare and/or even point at her kid in public. Recently, Carroll was with her son, Malachi, at a Chick-Fil-A when another young boy pointed at her son and shouted, "Mom look at THAT boy!"
However, Carroll was pleasantly surprised when the other boy's mother showed grace and kindness in her response. In a note to that mother posted on her Facebook page last week, Carroll wrote a message of thanks that is now going viral.
"You leaned forward and quietly told him and his three year old brother that we don't say things like that and they shouldn't point or stare," she wrote.
When the other mom's children continued to stare and ask questions about Malachi, she realized she had to try a different tactic.
"When you realized your whispers weren't working I saw the panic disappear and you took a deep breath and took a step of courage," Carroll wrote. "You brought your boys over to Malachi and said 'I bet he would like to know your names!'"
Her gesture, Carroll wrote, made a world of difference.
"As they said their names my little Malachi started grinning from ear to ear and jabbering back to them," she wrote. "The joy on his face brought tears to my eyes- he loves kids his age but so many are fearful to come and speak to him."
"Your boys continued to ask questions about his foot braces, his wheelchair, why his legs don't work, why he holds his mouth open like that," she continued. "You took the time to educate your sons in that moment and help them understand that different is okay. Different is not something to fear."
Carroll concluded her note by thanking the other mom for giving Malachi a chance to meet her kids, writing, "thank you for raising your children to embrace children like Malachi. And thank you for giving my son something to smile about."
"Special needs moms have to develop tough skin- we get used to stares, comments, and whispers," she wrote. "Please know it takes a lot to offend us, particularly when the comments are coming from young children. Give your kids the same grace we give them and use the opportunity to teach them about differences."
What may seem like a simple act of kindness meant the world to Carroll and her son. Of course her son is different, but as she wrote, "different is not something to fear," and it doesn't mean that he shouldn't be treated with anything less than respect and understanding.
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