A heartfelt Facebook post from the mother of a son with special needs to a fellow mom who showed grace and humanity in what could have been an awkward moment has gone viral — and serves as a profound reminder that “different is not something to fear.”
Leah Carroll addressed the anonymous mom directly in her post shared last week, and recounted the experience Carroll and her young son, Malachi, had at a Chick-Fil-A when a courageous mom approached them with her curious kids.
“To the mom of three at Chick-Fil-A: I sensed your panic when your five year old son pointed at my son in his wheelchair and shouted ‘Mom look at THAT boy!’ You leaned forward and quietly told him and his three year old brother that we don’t say things like that and they shouldn’t point or stare. But as in most cases, these suggestions are futile with young, curious minds and they continued to stare and loudly ask questions about my son’s differences,” Carroll began the viral post that has racked up 185,000 likes so far.
“When you realized your whispers weren’t working I saw the panic disappear and you took a deep breath and took a step of courage. You brought your boys over to Malachi and said, ‘I bet he would like to know your names!’ ” Carroll continued.
As it happens, Malachi absolutely wanted to learn their names — and was thrilled when they introduced themselves.
“As they said their names my little Malachi started grinning from ear to ear and jabbering back to them. The joy on his face brought tears to my eyes- he loves kids his age but so many are fearful to come and speak to him,” she wrote.
Carroll further commended the mother for taking the time to “educate her sons in that moment and help them understand that different is okay. Different is not something to fear. And that it was okay to ask questions!
“Special needs moms have to develop tough skin- we get used to stares, comments, and whispers. Please know it takes a lot to offend us, particularly when the comments are coming from young children. Give your kids the same grace we give them and use the opportunity to teach them about differences. So Chick-Fil-A mom, thank you for raising your children to embrace children like Malachi. And thank you for giving my son something to smile about,” she concluded her post.
Nearly 5,000 people posted messages of support to Carroll and Malachi on Facebook, and two days after her initial post Carroll shared a video that demonstrated just how much those messages meant to him.
“I posted something that I wanted all of my mom friends to see- little did I know it would take off like wild fire. I have been fighting the feelings of embarrassment mixed with joy that so much awareness is being spread. In reality, this is not about my Malachi but about all children with differences,” she wrote.
“Malachi is a terrible sleeper so we are always up from 3-6. Last night I was telling Malachi about some of the messages we have been receiving and he just couldn’t stop giggling. I grabbed my phone and caught a new sentence from him: “I love them.” He also says “hi” and “bye.” Getting just one of those words is a celebration in our home, so getting all three in 30 seconds makes it post worthy haha. Enjoy!”