When we got there the eating area was relatively empty so I wheeled Jackson up to a table to save a spot for us and I got in line to order food. He was close to me so I could watch him. I noticed a family a few people ahead of me in line. I noticed them because they seemed really loving toward each other. It was a father with 3 sons and a daughter. All the kids were in their late teens, early 20’s. They were all hanging out with their arms around each other and you could tell they were very close. Their Dad finally went up to order food and the boys headed over to the table next to Jackson. Then one of the boys saw Jackson, got up and went and sat at our table. He said “Hey little man, how you doing today?” I just watched. Then another one of the boys came over to our table. He saw Jackson’s drooling messy face (new teeth coming in), got up and went to get napkins, then came back and wiped his slobbery chin. I laughed and thought “Who does that?”, it was such a kind gesture. I got Jackson’s hot dog and headed to our table thinking that once I got there they would probably leave. Thankfully they didn’t. The first boy who sat down was enthralled with Jackson. He asked his name and the whole family chimed in to say hi to Jackson. He asked all kinds of questions about him. How does he communicate? How old is he? What is his favorite food? The mom finally showed up with her cart of food, came right over to see Jackson, gushed about how cute he was and how he reminded her of Dayton. I asked who Dayton was. Dayton is the best friend of the boy who sat down first. That was why he sat down next to Jackson. He said he reminded him of Dayton, who has cerebral palsy. They told me how Dayton has been doing triathlons and even Iron Man’s with the help of a partner. We sat there and talked the whole time Jackson ate. I found out they had just flown in from Alaska, the older brother was getting married the next day. The whole family continued to fuss over Jackson and comment on how awesome and fun he was. Then they asked if they could have their picture taken with Jackson. They wanted to have pictures with the cool kid at Costco. We finally had to reluctantly leave the wonderful Alaskan family.
Meeting this kind family reminded me that there are exceptional people out there that don’t see a kid in a wheelchair, they see a real person with love and happiness to share. They didn’t see Jackson as broken or different. They just thought he was a cool, fun kid. Which he is. Jackson has a personality, his sounds are his way to show his happiness, his sadness, his anger. His laugh and smile bring inexplicable joy. If everyone looked past that wheelchair they would be graced with the opportunity to spend time with an amazing person. His life is valuable, it isn’t a second rate existence. He loves attention, so say hi to him, even if he doesn’t say it back. Look into those beautiful blue eyes of his and see what a great soul he has. The kid just rocks. He is the best gift I have ever experienced. He is Jackson, a 6 year old little boy who loves Costco hot dogs and being tickled. Just like a lot of other 6 year olds.
If everyone would just remember what Wayne W. Dyer said “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change” then I imagine those with disabilities would forever be accepted into our society.
*Here are links to videos about Dayton and his first triathlon and his Ironman.