I first saw this letter three hours ago when a friend shared it on their Facebook page. When I first viewed the letter it had been shared almost 5,000 times – now I see it’s nearly at 10,000 shares. It seems that this heartless response to a woman who keeps her two autistic grandchildren several times a week has struck a cord. Note: The author of the letter assumes the child is the woman’s son, but in the original FB post comments, it’s actually a grandmother babysitting.
It certainly struck a cord with me, specifically because I work with a lot of families who deal with significantly special needs children. This letter is just a written example of what many of them experience in daily life with their kids due to abnormal behaviors that aren’t understood by a large percentage of the population. But, really, at what point can any mother say to another kill your child? I have no words to describe the sadness that this brings me. I also can’t imagine the heartbreak that this grandmother must have felt when reading these words.
Here’s how I would respond:
Dear “One Pissed Off Mother” –
It’s always nice to hear from a neighbor, especially when they have a problem. You see, I love to help others. This is why I keep my two grandsons who are autistic. When I take my grandsons outside to play, it’s far from an act of selfishness nor is it a nuisance for me to allow him to experience the joy of childhood, a sense of freedom and fun. I’m deeply sorry that you consider his dreadful sounds of joy a pollution. The real toxicity here appears to be your attitude toward this situation and that scares the hell out of me for your normal children. Can I ask you how they are ever going to learn to care for others? To appreciate that life should be celebrated, even if to you it seems a little flawed. And, by the way, there’s nothing flawed about my grandson. One more question, what are you going to do if one of your normal children grows up and becomes the parent of a special needs child? Will you banish your child/grandchild from your life because they are too much of a nuisance? I hope not.
You see, one day should you ever find yourself as a grandmother to a grandchild like mine, I hope that you won’t see him as a hindrance but as a blessing. That you’ll care for him, as I do my grandson, and teach him that he’s worth investing in and loving. I hope that you’ll dream of the day that despite his challenges – and they are many – he can experience the joy of achievement and the unconditional love of true friends. It’s clear you’ve heard him scream, but I’d like to invite you over for milk and cookies so that you can also feel the warmth of his hug and see the sweetness of his smile. Milk, cookies and sunny play outside is how to properly deal with any child, even my very special grandson. I know you’re a hard working person and would welcome the opportunity to share a meal, or even a small snack, with you, share my family with you and treat you special.
As to your desire that I move, I’m deeply sorry that I can’t oblige. I love our close proximity community because I love people, value people and have made a home here. I also have friends among the community whom I would miss greatly.
I try my best to do the right thing every day. To care for my home, to care for my family and to love my neighbors. I invite you to do the same.
The lady living at this address
Society, we must do better than this. Each of us has influence over someone – let’s use our collective influence to teach others that this type of behavior is not okay.
Together, let’s make a positive impact and use this opportunity to raise our collective voices to say that every life is valuable, every person worth celebrating and EVERY child is special – no matter what.
UPDATE: Since my original post, this story has made the local news in the area where the family lives. Click here to watch the news segment.