The ordinary offers the best lessons. On Sunday, we ventured to a local Mediterranean place to eat lunch. After a twenty-minute wait, we crowded into a booth in the back of the restaurant. Our daughter grabbed the menu, corralled the crayons, and began to color the drawing on the back. A few minutes later, after she grew bored, we played a game of tic-tac-toe. In the background, waitresses balanced dishes on the palms of their hands, delivered lemonade, soda, and ice tea, and tables were filled with serious conversation, laughter and a litter of people plugged into their iPhones.
At the table that sat next to us, I observed a little boy, probably no older than 8 years old. His ears were covered with blue headphones and it appeared that he looked at his iPad. I saw him move his hands in a flitting motion and assumed he was engaged in an intense video game. His mom sat next to him and she talked to her lunch companion, laughing and eating simultaneously. I told my husband to look at the little boy and even said, “It’s all about survival. If this Mom needs to use an iPad so that she is able to enjoy a meal with her friend, so be it.” My husband thought the little boy acted silly since his hands brushed up and down in all different directions.
My daughter grabbed my attention, by saying, “Look, Momma, the food is here.” We began eating our meal and all of sudden, my eyes, once again, gravitated toward the little boy. He searched for something nearby and seconds later, I watch as he grabbed a white stick. He pulled it out, extended his hands so that he could reach for the table, and his mother said, “Watch out, honey, there are people in front of you. You may want to move to the right.”
I paused and said to my husband, “Oh my goodness. That little boy is blind.” Tears hit my eyes with this realization. So often we mistake what we see as the ultimate truth. Over and over again, I am reminded that what I perceive is never absolute. There is always an untold story and hidden struggle. This little boy’s face stayed with me for much of the day. It reminded me how much in our daily lives we live in misinterpretations. We make assumptions and decisions based on a fraction of what we believe we see and know.
This little boy reminded me of Plato’s quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
I learned this truth in the most unexpected place on a Sunday afternoon.
Oh! I teared up reading this!
Absolutely. Our son lives for his IPad as its one of his only friends.
Having Autism is especially hard because people will ultimately judge your parenting of your child because they look typical, but behave strangely. If they have an ipad/iphone in front of them, immediately it’s assumed that you’re an unplugged parent. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We all need to be aware of this as it’s an ever growing epidemic. iPads have become a wonderful resource for him and many others with all types of special needs and electronics will never judge him for the way that he is, just as he will never ever judge others. 🙂
I agree, Rudri. I find that quote especially resonant when I see happy, smiling Facebook posts too because of what I went through. We had plenty of those even amid our struggles as a family, perhaps trying to prove otherwise to the world. What you see is indeed not always what you get.
Rudri, I know the parents of children with autism who use iPads as a way to focus their children. You’re right, sometimes we catch a glimpse and make assumptions based on previous experience.
How often I make assumptions and how humbled I am when the truth comes out. Yes, I’ve had many of those moments.
A great point..we have in our family an autistic child and he yells out and acts out, and sometimes people stare because they think that he’s a misbehaved child when in reality he is not. We just never know what battles people go through. I have been fortunate to hear many stories that people share with me. It breaks my heart but I realize time and time again how true Plato’s quote is. Thanks for the reminder, Rudri.
A blind boy opening your eyes to a truth — yes, this is just the kind of revelation life grants us if we’re paying attention, isn’t it? There is so much struggle in our midst and, though it’s tempting to dismiss something based on received notions, it’s almost always best to stay open, rather than cast a shortsighted judgment on anyone.
Wow. Thank you so much for sharing that moment with us, Rudri. And I have never heard the quote by I need to keep this somewhere for myself.
I’ve learned, finally, to judge less once I became a mother. What we might complain about another child doing – well, in a year that could be our child. And, we just never, ever know the truth until we have lived that parent’s or that child’s life. It is never for us to say.
So true. And this has happened to me many times, bringing my emotionally to my knees.
Wow! What a great story. I found your blog over at SITS Girls and am really amazed by your wonderful writing and content. Definitely got yourself a new follower! @scggirl
Such important lessons. We make assumptions based on our own realities. We’re frequently off the mark.
Thank you for this reminder.
An absolutely beautiful lesson. Thank you for seeing and sharing truth.