Different Isn’t Something To Fear
Reprinted from a Facebook post by Leah Carroll
To the mom of three at Chick-fil-A: I sensed your panic when your five-year-old son pointed at my son in his wheelchair and shouted “Mom look at THAT boy!” 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.
But as in most cases, these suggestions are futile with young, curious minds and they continued to stare and loudly ask questions about my son’s differences. 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.
You brought your boys over to Malachi and said, “I bet he would like to know your names!”. As they said their names my little Malachi started grinning from ear to ear and jabbering back to them. 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.
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. And that it was okay to ask questions!
Thank you for giving my son a chance to meet your kids. Thank you for being the type of mom who educates your children instead of frantically trying to silence them. Special needs moms have to develop tough skin–we get used to stares, comments, and whispers.
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.
So Chick-fil-A mom, thank you for raising your children to embrace children like Malachi. And thank you for giving my son something to smile about.
UPDATE: After this post went viral the Chick-fil-A Mom reached out and Malachi reconnected with his new friends. We still meet up for play dates and she and I have become very close friends. Chick-fil-A did a follow-up video of our reunion that can be found here: https://youtu.be/_FqXgxnfzd4