Today Colin and I went to McDonald’s. We were going to go through the drive-thru, but he asked to go in. We ordered, and then he ate some of his chicken nuggets and went to play. He didn’t play with any of the children (though there weren’t many there), and he spent a lot of his time on the floor playing with his dinosaurs. He’d occasionally go into the play place, but would come right back out and back to the floor.
After about maybe 20 or 30 minutes of being there, a little boy who I’m guessing was maybe 9 or 10 (? I’m not good at “aging” people), came running in with his little brothers. Colin watched them eagerly take their shoes off, and the other boys disappeared and Colin followed the oldest boy into a tunnel in the play place. The little boy noticed Colin was following him, and stepped out of the tunnel to let Colin go first. He stood behind him as Colin climbed up, and held his arms out to catch him in case he fell. Colin followed him up, and I heard the little boy talking to him and asking him his name. I couldn’t hear Colin well, so I don’t know if he answered or if he even knew what he was asking him.
The boys came down, and parted ways, but at this point I was getting misty eyed because this little boy was so sweet to my baby. I noticed his mom walk off by herself to refill her cup, so I caught up to her and told her she was raising a real sweetheart and that it meant so much that her boy was so sweet to mine. I started tearing up as I told her Colin is autistic and had been playing alone. She told me she completely understood because her boy is also autistic. It was kind of a beautiful thing.
Being told Colin is autistic opened doors, and I know that. It opened doors for him to get the help he needs to grow into a successful adult. But I really felt like it closed doors. I didn’t think that at first, necessarily, but watching my boy play by himself, avoiding other children, or even yelling at other children to go away, I just saw that friendship door slamming shut. But this little boy gave me hope. Colin may be bullied one day, I can’t foresee it, I can’t prevent it (though, I’ll likely try), but I can have hope that there are more children like that little boy, and that one day my little boy will treat others how he was treated today: no judgement, just love.