I’ve seen a lot on the internet lately about the understanding Santa Claus who got on the floor with the child with autism and played toys with him. I know that little boy’s parents were beyond thankful for what that Santa Claus did for their child. As a fellow autism parent, I am very grateful for that outstanding Santa Claus and very happy for the parents to do something "normal". I know all too well what that feels like!
I don’t have a story about an understanding Santa Claus but I do have a story about some understanding people. Yesterday was the first time I have had a stranger help me out in the way these people did. It was the first time that NOT everyone was staring at me in disgust. I actually had some “angels” nearby who helped me when I needed it the most.
After church on Sunday I took the boys to see Santa Claus at the mall. I walked in hand in hand with Trenton sweating bullets of anticipation of not knowing how it will go. My parents were walking with Andrew and taking care of him so my focus was on Trenton. I was so proud of the way he walked hand in hand in the mall with me right to the Santa Claus line. Unfortunately, we were about 30 seconds late of being able to walk right up to Santa Claus. I just wanted to scream, “No, please stop. Let us go first.” As I watched the other two families beat me to the head of the line.
Just as I expected, Trenton was not going to wait. He kept pulling his body away from me, making his upset noises, throwing himself down on the ground, kicking, and trying to grab everything in sight. His noises were growing louder and louder. I didn’t focus on anyone around me other than Trenton. I took Trenton out of the line while my mother stood in line holding our spot. Within seconds, the people in front of us said that we could go ahead of them!!!!!!!!!
What?!?!? Someone actually understands and is not judging me!!
“Thank you! Thank you!” I kept saying over and over. Never before in my life did I want to hug and kiss complete strangers.
“Oh thank you. You don’t know how much this means to me. He has severe autism and can’t help it.” I said
One lady looked at me with such empathetic eyes and said, “Trust me honey. I completely understand.”
Trenton sat on Santa’s lap and I did get a picture of the boys with Santa. However, what happened after Santa’s lap got everyone’s attention in the mall. Trenton wanted the animal the photographer was holding to get the children to look at the camera. We caused a scene. I can’t even begin to describe what happened but it happened. My purse flew off my shoulder with all of my items dumping out while trying to handle Trenton. I ended up having to pick him up and carrying him out parallel to the ground with kicking legs and swinging arms. I think everyone could hear his noises, cries, and screams bouncing off the walls at the mall. Thank goodness for my mom who was picking up the pieces after us such as his shoes, toys, etc.
After getting in the van and getting Trenton strapped in his car seat, he continued to fuss and cry. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Was that even worth it?”
Well, the answer is yes! Yes it was worth it. The smile on his face walking into the mall was priceless! It was more than worth it!!
To the family who let us go ahead of them, thank you! You will never know how much that meant to me. Your act of kindness and empathy was exactly what I needed. It is not easy taking a child with a severe hidden disability out in public. For once in my life, we had someone help us and not judge us. Thank you thank you! You gave me the best Christmas gift that I will get this season! I wish I knew who you were and where you lived because I would love to bring you a gift to show you my appreciation!