Leah Carroll is used to people staring and talking about her son. While she has somewhat grown accustomed to the pointing and questions, especially from children, she often wishes things were different. However, she understands that children are inquisitive, curious creatures, and often don’t mean any harm. That’s why, when a young child pointed and talked about her disabled son, she could see the “panic” on the mother’s face as it happened.
Leah’s son Malachi is in a wheelchair and has leg braces. While at Chik-Fil-A one day, a 5-year-old boy pointed at Leah’s son and shouted “Mom look at THAT boy!”
Leah saw the boy’s mother quickly try to correct the situation. “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.” Despite the mother’s efforts to quiet her two children, their curiosity about Malachi didn’t waiver.
That’s when the mother found what Leah called “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.”
Leah says that Malachi always wants to meet new children, but they are often afraid to approaching him. Seeing the joy on her child’s face brought her to tears, and she was so grateful for what this mother had done. “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!”
Leah was blown away by the actions this mother took that day. She was appreciative of the woman taking the time to help educate her children, to be kind to her son, and to continue to learn about kids with special needs.
She wrote a beautiful letter thanking the woman and her sons, which was shared on the Love What Matters Facebook page.
It’s easy to see why a parent would quickly try to silence a child who showed an interest, curiosity, of even confused about a disabled child. But Leah is so happy that this mother went a different route, and encouraged understanding and communication. It meant not only the world to her, but to her son as well.
“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."
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