Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Things You Learn About Others When You've Got a Special Needs Child

Friday was a crazy day for me. I was rushing around trying to get cupcakes to the Beast's class for school and still make it to Little Guy's earmold impression appointment and then back to town in time to get the Beast a cake and pick up Snort and Pretty in time.

I went to Wal-Mart first. Since it was still fairly early, I was able to get a handicapped parking spot. Whenever I have Little Guy with me on my own, I use our handicapped sticker because that oxygen tank is HEAVY and bulky. I ran into the store, did my quick shopping, and came out right away.

As I approached my van, an older gentleman sitting in a car parked next to me opened his door and asked me if I needed any help. I get that question a lot, but I think most people are just being polite and are secretly hoping I don't really need any help. I noted that he smelled like an entire liquor store, and smiled at him and said, "Thank you for your offer. I've gotten pretty used to doing this." and continued my business.

The next thing I knew, the gentleman was out of his car. "I just can't sit by and watch a lady do all that work while I do nothing.", he said. And without another word, he unloaded my cart, lifted Little Guy's oxygen tank out of the cart, and then took my buggy and put it away so I wouldn't have to leave Little Guy to do it. I realized at that moment that my judgement of him as a man who just stunk of booze who couldn't really help me was as far from the truth as could possibly be. This was a good man who sincerely wanted to help.

That afternoon, I went to Sam's for the cake. Not one handicapped spot was available. Great! Just what I needed. I took the closest spot I could find and lugged Little Guy and the oxygen with me until I could find a spare shopping cart in the parking lot. I ran into the store, got the cake and some snacks for the Beast's little party, and hurried back to the van. I was going quickly because I still had to get Snort and Pretty and make it back in time for Number One and the Beast to get off the bus. I was going really fast.

Because I wasn't in a handicapped spot, the parking space was a little bit narrower than what I usually had. I had to put Little Guy's tank partly into the vacant spot next to my van so I could unload him, put his carseat back in safely, and then set up the tubing so he wouldn't choke himself. It isn't a lot to do, but even when I'm going my fastest it takes a minute or two. As I was standing there, a woman who looked to be just slightly older than me pulled into the spot where Little Guy's tank was. She looked at me as if to say "Hey! Move that thing. I want this spot." I moved the tank over a bit, but it was still slightly in her desired spot. (Not that there weren't 300 other spots to choose. She just wanted this one because it was 5 feet closer than the next available one.) What did she do? She pulled her car right up to his tank and parked it there! She got out of her car, tried to be kind, and said "Good thing I have a small car. I don't even need the whole spot." And she walked off. I stood there stunned.

I had misjudged the poor man that morning who genuinely wanted to help as someone who really wouldn't want to be bothered. And, I had summed this lady up as "another mom", someone who would understand what I was trying to do and be patient. I couldn't have been more wrong in either case.

I am amazed every day about the things I learn about other people as I go about my life as a mom with special needs children.


  1. We have a Berenstein's Bears book about strangers that is pretty good- Mama Bear tries to explain to Sister Bear that you can't tell about people by looking at them. She uses apples, and a big old warty apple is nice and healthy on the inside. And a beautiful red apple is full of worms. Some people are just full of worms, even if they look like they might be kind on the outside!

  2. Hello Aimee,

    It's hard not to pass judgment on people based on appearances. What a wonderful man you encountered, though! And not so much with the rude lady. I am impressed by your blog on Hearing Loss & Deafness. I think you should have your voice heard by over 6 million monthly visitors who come to Wellsphere's website to seek information on a variety of health related topics. We would like to raise the awareness of Hearing Loss & Deafness, and connect you and other people who are in similar situations. Through Wellsphere's HealthBlogger Network, you can engage with others to lend a helping hand for one another.

    For more information about joining, please visit or email me at hua [at] wellsphere [dot] com.

    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Director of Blogger Networks

  3. Interesting lessons. People certainly do suprise us sometimes. The first story made me teary eyed, and the second well, you know. Glad that there are those "diamonds in the rough".