On a completely unrelated to food note! Sometimes you meet a random stranger and something about them really makes an impact on you. I was at the swimming pool this morning with some of the kids, and sitting next to me in the spa pool was the loveliest man. He was there with his 12-year old son, who was severely autistic. This gentleman looked so happy and relaxed, was incredibly chatty and very happy to tell me all about himself and his boy, Sanji.
Sanji is about 5’8″, and a similar build and weight to our Nick, so he’s a big boy. His Dad would only be a couple of inches taller. Sanji spent his time floating in the water supported on his back by his Dad, or snuggling into his Dad’s shoulder. His Dad introduced him to me and was pleased when Sanji said hello back. He isn’t very communicative normally. He’s at a special unit within a mainstream intermediate school and they’re very pleased with how well he’s doing.
Sanji’s Dad loves kids and chatted away happily to my two 4-year olds who were very taken with him. He explained to me that Sanji is at a similar developmental stage to my two. My immediate thought was “how on earth does this man take care of someone who behaves like a 4-year-old but has the body of a large 12-year old? It must be so hard.” He has a daughter too, 10-years old, who never stops talking and who is a great swimmer. He would have liked more kids he says – his mother was one of 11, and his Dad one of 8, so his kids have plenty of cousins.
And do you know what? There was no rolling of the eyes when the man talked about Sanji and taking care of him. There were no complaints. There was no request for sympathy. All I could see was love and patience and joy. Not resignation or acceptance of his lot in life, but joy in his precious and very special boy.
When I reflect on the amount of complaining that I do, and the riches I have in my life compared to Sanji and his Dad, I feel humbled and slightly ashamed. Thanks Sanji’s Dad for giving me a new perspective on my life and may you continue to always find joy in your children.