Being a mom is never easy, and raising an autistic child brings its own set of challenges into the mix. But sometimes, the kindness of a stranger can make both of those things just a little bit easier.
Peggy Gilpatric was shopping with her young son at Target, racing through the store in order to get the necessities while her son was still calm. You see, her son has autism, and unexpected interruptions to his routine, loud noises, or other sensory disruptions can often frighten kids with autism and lead to outbursts, crying, or worse.
Then the security alarm suddenly went off, and her son got upset, dropping his drink onto the floor and screeching at the top of his lungs. Customers in the vicinity began to react.
“I felt all the judgmental eyes on me. I heard every rude comment,” she wrote. “I felt the tears stinging my eyes, but I was not going to cry in the grocery store. I was going to be one of those tough moms who make it all the way to the car, and then cry in the parking lot.”
But when the man in front of her in line suddenly turned around, he had no rude comment or judgmental expression for the harried mom. Instead, he did something amazing.
“’I’m a father of four. Go in front of me. Don’t worry about them,’ he said, as he gestured to the onlookers. I thanked him, swiped my credit card, and was out of there in record time,” Gilpatric writes. “This moment of kindness was everything. When we made it to the car, I did not cry… I chose not to remember the faces of the people who glared. I chose to remember the man who helped.”
This man’s eloquent gesture is a reminder to all of us that everyone–parent or otherwise–is just doing our best, and that compassion for others is always in order.
That’s a lesson this mom–and we–won’t soon forget.