Most parents know what it's like to occasionally feel harried, exhausted, and embarrassed when you've got a kid acting up in a restaurant. Sure, there's the whole "just get up and drag your kid out of there" crew, but sometimes you're in the middle of a meal and would like to gulp it down and pay first. Sometimes, you think you still might regain control of the situation. Sometimes, you're too tired to do anything but want to crawl under your table. So when Ashley England's special needs son, Riley, began tossing a fit at a pizza restaurant in North Carolina, she was not prepared for what happened next -- a customer actually took it upon herself (or himself?) to not only pay for her family's dinner, but to send over a beautiful little note of empathy and inspiration. You will hardly believe your eyes.
The note read:
God only gives special children to special people.
And the waitress (who was tearing up!) informed Ashley that the mystery customer had also paid for their dinner.
Ashely was astonished. For the past few weeks, her 8-year-old child, Riley, had been given her a lot of trouble. And that day in the restaurant, he threw his phone and started screaming. Ashley says:
Riley was getting loud and hitting the table and I know it was aggravating to some people.
But one person seemed to understand -- and wanted to alleviate this parent's guilt and soothe her soul. Ashley is immensely grateful for the understanding, considering that the stranger couldn't have possibly known everything she has been through with Riley, who has a severe form of epilepsy. He's had up to 100 seizures a day, several surgeries, and been robbed of his speech, which often makes him frustrated and causes him to act out.
Somehow, this stranger knew the depth of Riley's health issues, the depth of Ashley's pain, and knew just how badly a drop of human kindness was needed at that moment. Ashley says:
Little did he know what struggles we had been facing lately and this was surely needed at that moment. Thank you!
Think of what an amazing world this would be if we could all just step outside of ourselves sometimes and try to imagine what someone else might be going through. Sure, it's not fun, and not necessarily fair, to have to listen to a child scream and throw things in a restaurant. But assess the situation: Is this a spoiled brat or a child who might have deeper issues? If you don't know, err on the side of caution. Whatever irritation this child is causing you, imagine what that parent might be going through at home.
You get to walk out of that restaurant into the calm and orderliness of your day -- hey, you can go hang out in the park if you like and listen to the birds -- but that parent with that special needs child can't. We're all on this planet together, all types of us. Let's take a cue from this mystery angel and try to make it all a little more pleasant for each other instead of more horrible -- as some note leavers prefer to do.
Oddly, I've read some readers' comments that say that the mystery customer should have minded his/her own business -- and this from mothers of special needs kids. But Ashley wasn't insulted in the slightest and was moved to tears by this stranger's note.
What do you think of this note?
Image via WSMV