Lauren Nordberg, a mother from Bainbridge Island, Washington, said that it was just after they had ordered their food at a busy restaurant when her 6-year-old son, Elliot, began to lose it. It was after several moments of stares from strangers that she opted to take her son, who has Asperger’s, outside. What was awaiting their return at their table caught her completely off guard.
By the time Nordberg and her son returned to their table, he had calmed down. When she asked for her receipt for their meal, she was instead handed a note and informed that someone else had already paid for their meal.
Nordberg shared this note on Facebook, where she said that there is still good in this world and that she’s thankful for the kindness of strangers. The post has since taken the Internet by storm.
So often we hear stories about how servers or restaurants have somehow belittled families because of the behavior of their children. Let’s face it: We’ve all been there before. At some point in every parent’s life, they become that parent as their child has a public meltdown, and consequently we’ve all been subjected to the rude stares and unrelenting eye rolls of the other patrons. It’s inevitably difficult, but it’s got to be especially challenging for parents like Nordberg, who are dealing with emotional outbursts of a child with special needs.
It’s so refreshing to witness such a display of kindness from someone who was a mere stranger to Nordberg. We need more stories of support like these. No parent ever enjoys having to combat public tantrums, but that sometimes comes with the territory of having irrationally impassioned children. It’s reassuring to know there are people in the world who opt for empathy rather than cave in to the irritation of having one’s appetizers interrupted.
It’s important to remember that we truly never know what sort of storms those around us are weathering. When a child is screaming in a restaurant, it could be because their chicken nuggets don’t look “nuggety” enough, or it could be because loud noises and unexpected crowds are triggers for a child with special needs. We really never know the whole story.
Children may be unable to contain their emotions, but adults can. So next time you’re sitting next to that mom trying to tame her unruly toddler, perhaps offer sympathy or assistance instead of eye rolls. It could help her more than you know.