Hi Best Neighbor in the World…Do You Need Some Ice??

Autistic kids can be repetitive, loud, they can make crazy noises or hum for hours on end. There can be never-ending questions (OMG the questions), flapping, balking, beeping and “mom mom mom mom mom…”  We’re being honest here, right?  It can be ANNOYING.

Recently, I have read a few stories of people getting past some of these behaviors, and going out of their way for autistic kids and their parents.  I love these stories.  I love them because, duh, my son is autistic, but also because they are a reminder of how seemingly small gestures of compassion often mean the world to the recipient.  Really, they mean the world.

Dear Daddy in Seat 16c and To The Woman and Child Who Sat at Table 9 are worth reading. Small gestures by good people. 

But …. sometimes these kids are aggressive and impulsive.  And there are rarely feel good stories about this.  It’s hard to ask people to bring some kindness to the table when your kid just threw the table across the room. My kid is sometimes a table thrower. 

And yet….I have a story.

Aesop

*********
Hi New Neighbor.

You had me at hello.  You actually had me before hello.  When I learned that the person who bought the house next to ours had two adopted kids, my stomach did a flip-flop.  Kids? Adopted? You live in our world, I thought. I did a bit of a jig. Like Riverdance.

Fast forward a few months. You didn’t move in right away, and I, uhh, forgot about you.  (I met your painters, however, and they were lovely.)  I figured you’d move in, and I would deliver some baked goods in a cute basket. Like Brie Van De Kamp from Desperate Housewives.  Because it would be a really, really cute basket, you would know I was a great neighbor, and we would totally exchange house keys.  We would bond about adopting kids, and I would tell you that my son is charming and goofy and amazing.  And that he is autistic.  I’m a girl who likes a plan, and this was a good plan.  I stored it away until you moved in.

Life went on. Halloween showed up, and as big occasions tend to go, my firefighter child was solidly planted on the side of over-excited.  We were alternating between calming my son, getting dinner ready and setting up the front porch.  The door bell rang! Trick-or-Treater number one! And we realized, too late, that the front door was wide open.

My son ran out the door, and was no longer a firefighter, but a fire-breathing dragon. With arms out and head forward, my son ran out the door at full speed and breathed fire (yelled loudly) into the face of the toddler who was standing with his family on our porch.  We heard the toddler cry before we even caught up.

Ohhhh and, of course, the parent to this toddler? You, our new neighbor.  You were gracious. You let us apologize, you even brushed off the necessity of the apology (while holding your screaming toddler).  You gave us a cute Halloween card introducing yourself to the ‘hood. After all hope vanished that my house would swallow me whole, I introduced us.  My original plan was a #fail, but all was well.  In the coming weeks, our kids played together a bit, and you and I chatted in the brief, random snippets that only moms who are also watching their kids can do.

And then –

My son and one of his favorite therapists took a walk on a Saturday. You were in your front yard on the phone.  I am sure you waved.  As they walked by, my son took the ball that was in his hand, and threw it at you. Impulsive and quick.  And it hit you.  One thing my son has down is how to throw a ball with some force.

I knew you were ok (ish), but I was mortified.  Mortified and, honestly,  just plain defeated.  My son wrote you a note and we taped it to your door. He was truly and tearfully sorry. I was truly and tearfully sorry.  And at that point, my plan of being Brie Van de Kamp disintegrated into a vision of polite waving, occasional conversations about the weather… and your understandable hesitancy to be anywhere near my son.

Later that day, we heard someone drop something off at our doorstep.  It was not a lawsuit. It was a grocery bag full of fresh oranges and a letter.

Letter

My son nailed you with a ball, and in response, you picked us some oranges and wrote a note that I will keep forever.  Not just because the note is touching (which it is), but because it will remind me about the importance, the impact, of small kindnesses.

Dear neighbor, this small gesture of yours, this “hey, I am not afraid of your kid” note, took me from despondent to grateful to hopeful.  It was not a small gesture to me. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Becca

0 thoughts on “Hi Best Neighbor in the World…Do You Need Some Ice??

  1. Wow. They are good neighbors. Only lucky ones get those. Again, nice piece of writing. 🙂

    I think i will be on your blog for next few days. 🙂 Btw, didn’t find the like button to like this one.

  2. Wow. They are good neighbors. Only lucky ones get those. Again, nice piece of writing. 🙂

    I think i will be on your blog for next few days. 🙂 Btw, didn’t find the like button to like this one.

  3. Loving your blog! Thanks for sharing your stories. Dee, wow! Guess she’s just looking for someone to pick on- pretty sure she picked the wrong mom! 😉

  4. Loving your blog! Thanks for sharing your stories. Dee, wow! Guess she’s just looking for someone to pick on- pretty sure she picked the wrong mom! 😉

  5. Have you considered putting your kid in therapy so that he can learn to behave like a civilized human being? Going through life coasting upon the kindness of strangers (like three standard deviations from the mean of kindness given your pumpkin’s attempt to physically assault them) seems like odd way to go through life.

    It’s awesome that you won the neighbor lottery, but something like 1 in 50 kids are on the spectrum. You’d think there’d be melting down, object throwing autistic kids in every other classroom, most scout troupe and one third of baseball teams… yet I rarely encounter acting down autistic child.

    This suggests it is possible to teach your kid to behave in a civilized manner. You just can’t be bothered!

    1. Wow. Dee, you win the Asshat of the Year award. Did you even read the part about how the child was walking down the sidewalk with his favorite THERAPIST?

      Not every kid fits into your perfect world. Mine sure wouldn’t. I am glad that there are people out there who get it.

    2. Dee, I wrote an argumentative comment, then deleted it. I believe it is better to educate than to argue. For what it’s worth, my son is in more therapy than, I imagine, most people think is possible. If you have questions, and can present them in a polite and kind (dare I say “civilized”) manner, I am happy to answer them. You know nothing about me. I bet you’d be surprised.

    3. Dee, you are heartless….. Why are you even reading this blog or responding to it?? Seriously!!!???

      Becca, I would love to be your neighbor!! Bless you!!

    4. Wow, Dee, incredibly unkind. Have YOU ever considered therapy? Maybe 1 in 50 kids are on the spectrum, but the spectrum is just that: a spectrum. I’ve worked with autistic kids for years, and they range from being very high functioning to kids that can’t talk at all. These kids are trapped in their heads and it’s incredibly frustrating for them and anyone that loves them. They can be impulsive and they lash out. Perhaps you could take a few minutes and imagine what that would be like. And at the very least, stick to the rule “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

  6. Have you considered putting your kid in therapy so that he can learn to behave like a civilized human being? Going through life coasting upon the kindness of strangers (like three standard deviations from the mean of kindness given your pumpkin’s attempt to physically assault them) seems like odd way to go through life.

    It’s awesome that you won the neighbor lottery, but something like 1 in 50 kids are on the spectrum. You’d think there’d be melting down, object throwing autistic kids in every other classroom, most scout troupe and one third of baseball teams… yet I rarely encounter acting down autistic child.

    This suggests it is possible to teach your kid to behave in a civilized manner. You just can’t be bothered!

    1. Wow. Dee, you win the Asshat of the Year award. Did you even read the part about how the child was walking down the sidewalk with his favorite THERAPIST?

      Not every kid fits into your perfect world. Mine sure wouldn’t. I am glad that there are people out there who get it.

    2. Dee, I wrote an argumentative comment, then deleted it. I believe it is better to educate than to argue. For what it’s worth, my son is in more therapy than, I imagine, most people think is possible. If you have questions, and can present them in a polite and kind (dare I say “civilized”) manner, I am happy to answer them. You know nothing about me. I bet you’d be surprised.

    3. Dee, you are heartless….. Why are you even reading this blog or responding to it?? Seriously!!!???

      Becca, I would love to be your neighbor!! Bless you!!

    4. Wow, Dee, incredibly unkind. Have YOU ever considered therapy? Maybe 1 in 50 kids are on the spectrum, but the spectrum is just that: a spectrum. I’ve worked with autistic kids for years, and they range from being very high functioning to kids that can’t talk at all. These kids are trapped in their heads and it’s incredibly frustrating for them and anyone that loves them. They can be impulsive and they lash out. Perhaps you could take a few minutes and imagine what that would be like. And at the very least, stick to the rule “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

  7. Ok. Now MY neighbor, Joyce, from up the block thinks that I have marital problems. Why? Because I was upstairs in bed reading your story and when I got to the note from the neighbor, I burst into silent tears. I mean a LOT of tears. Then my daughter told me that Joyce was at the door, so I had to try to get rid of the red cry-y face and make a happy “no way have I been crying” face. Now she thinks that we have been fighting.

    Which we haven’t. Wow. I like your blog.

    1. Tell Joyce it was totally worth it because you just cracked me up in the middle of Trader Joe’s. You look like you have marital problems, and I look like a gal who thinks frozen quinoa is hilaaaaarious!

      1. I am glad to know you. I look forward to reading more. I don’t usually tell too many people, but I write about my kid as awesomely autistic/facebook. I tone it down a lot more than in my “vent til I purge” blog. I am still a bit concerned about family members connecting the dots and finding my persona here.

  8. Ok. Now MY neighbor, Joyce, from up the block thinks that I have marital problems. Why? Because I was upstairs in bed reading your story and when I got to the note from the neighbor, I burst into silent tears. I mean a LOT of tears. Then my daughter told me that Joyce was at the door, so I had to try to get rid of the red cry-y face and make a happy “no way have I been crying” face. Now she thinks that we have been fighting.

    Which we haven’t. Wow. I like your blog.

    1. Tell Joyce it was totally worth it because you just cracked me up in the middle of Trader Joe’s. You look like you have marital problems, and I look like a gal who thinks frozen quinoa is hilaaaaarious!

      1. I am glad to know you. I look forward to reading more. I don’t usually tell too many people, but I write about my kid as awesomely autistic/facebook. I tone it down a lot more than in my “vent til I purge” blog. I am still a bit concerned about family members connecting the dots and finding my persona here.

I love the comments!