That Is ‘Pretty’ Awesome

, , , , , , | Hopeless | August 15, 2017

(I am a photographer running a studio in the inner city. We are well known for our children’s portraits, and we range from high-end portraits for modelling jobs to fun sibling photos and birth announcements. We do a bit of everything; as such, we are extremely busy, and it states on our website that we do not accept walk-ins. We are usually booked up six months in advance. One day, ten minutes before closing, a mum walks in with a young girl around six or seven behind her. I internally groan.)

Mother: “Hello. I know you’re closing soon, but I have a special favour to ask.”

(At this point the little girl peeks around her mother’s legs and I’m lost for words. Under her thick winter coat and hat, she is skeletally thin with huge dark circles under her eyes. From what I can tell, she has no hair, and a tube taped to her cheek that feeds into her nose. It is immediately clear this kid is very, very sick.)

Mother: *near tears* “My daughter saw one of your photos taped to the wall at the hospital. She REALLY loves unicorns and the photo had a girl photo-shopped onto a horse. I know you’re booked up, and it’s months before the next appointment, but…”

(At this point she actually starts crying. I realise that our next available appointment is probably way too far away for this particular kid. The little girl squeezes her mother’s hand. I am a very big dude, covered in tattoos and a beard, but I’m not ashamed to say I needed a minute before I spoke.)

Me: “Aww, that’s just for regular customers! I’ve been waiting all day to take a photo of someone as beautiful as you! What’s your name, sweetheart?”

(I lock the front door and spend the next three hours taking photos of this kid in every princess costume I have in my closet. She is the sweetest, most well-behaved kid I have ever worked with. Once we’re done she curls up on the couch in my office and falls asleep while I load up the photos for her mum to see and choose the ones she likes best, and ask her what kind of retouching she’d like done. She’s adamant that I leave her daughter as is — apparently the little girl has been worried for the past month that she is no longer “pretty.”)

Me: “All right, so we’ve settled on these. I can have them edited and all finished in two days. If you give me your email I can send you the link to the website and the password to download them when they’re ready.”

(The mother thanks me over and over and comes up front, carrying her sleeping daughter, and holds out her credit card.)

Me: “Nope. No way.”

Mother: “Please, I insist. You stayed open so late and your shoots are listed for [amount] online. Please at least charge me that.

Me: “Absolutely not. I am not taking money for this. No way in h***.”

(A few days later I send the link through and hear nothing. I see she’s downloaded the photos and I think nothing of it, hoping my sweet little friend loved her photos. Almost six months later I’m once again closing up when a very familiar face pops up at my window, grinning and waving frantically.)

Me: *throwing open the door* “Hey, you!”

Little Girl: “Hi! I’m better! Look, I’m better!”

(Sure enough, she’d put on some weight, was flushed and pink, and had a fine fuzz of hair over her head. Her mother was a few steps behind her, grinning. She once again tried to force an envelope full of money into my hand, and again I refused. She got frustrated and eventually in her exasperation said, “at least let us take you to dinner!” which I happily accepted. Seven years later that photo of a sick little girl astride a giant pink unicorn is in a frame in my lounge room. My now-step-daughter groans every time I point it out to the friends she brings home!)

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Flagged Another Awesome Reaction

, , , , | Hopeless | August 3, 2017

(I’m a semi-open pansexual female. I don’t hide it, but people usually must ask, or we must be talking about our sexualities. Most times, people don’t believe it’s a real thing, or they just start acting strange around me. But on a few rare occasions, I get reactions like this one, which is still my favorite. My self-esteem is also low, so I don’t take compliments well, and will sometimes actually stutter out a “thank you.”  I just recently got a new tattoo on my forearm, of the word “Ohana” with an arrow through it, and feathers; the feathers have the Pansexual flag (pink, yellow, blue) in a watercolor around them. I am out at the grocery store, a few days after getting it, when a mother and her son stand next to me to get something from the shelves. The little boy sees my tattoo and turns to his mom.)

Little Boy: *whispering to his mother* “Mommy, what’s on that lady’s arm?”

Mother: “That’s a tattoo, like Daddy and I have. If you ask her, she might explain the tattoo, like others do.”

Little Boy: *to me* “What does your tattoo mean?”

Me: *surprised, since most parents try not to mention it* “Well, the word is from one of my favorite movies, from when I was little. The colors are for a flag I use.”

Little Boy: “What’s the flag?”

Me: “Well, you know how your mommy loves your daddy, and is married to him?”

Little Boy: “Yeah.”

Me: “In my case, I can love a boy or a girl, a boy that dresses as a girl or has the body of a girl, or a girl that dresses as a boy, or has the body of a boy. I care more about the heart than the gender of the person.”

Little Boy: *to his mother* “So, she’s like Auntie, and big brother?”

Mother: “Yep, she is. What do you say to her for telling you?”

Little Boy: *to me* “Thank you, and I think you’re really pretty!”

(I have high hopes for that little boy, and his mother, for both of them being so accepting.)

A Neurologically Atypical Display Of Understanding

, , , , , | Hopeless | July 22, 2017

My boys are three and eight and both have autism. My eight-year-old has ADHD and my three-year-old has ADD and severe speech delays.

After checking out at the meat counter of a small meat shop near our house I try to move to the main check out section. My eight-year-old is trying to run around the shop with our groceries and is struggling to stay next to me. My three-year-old launches himself out of the stroller and tries to race around the shop while screaming. I manage to get them both under control for a few minutes but our stroller gets stuck and the groceries spill all over.

A kind worker comes around from the meat counter and starts to chat with the boys while helping me pick up everything. Once the stroller is unstuck he asks if we want help to our car or the door. He manages to help keep my boys occupied and doesn’t bat an eye when they are acting out from what is deemed normal. He made us feel normal and welcomed. We always go there once a week for our meat and many small things we need because we are welcomed, and it’s a shop that my boys are careful in without me needing to hold them tightly against me.

It’s a wonderful feeling when people treat non-neurotypical kids the way they would treat neurotypical kids.

Everyone Is Winning

, , , | Hopeless | July 2, 2017

(The hotel I work at is located a block away from the local arena and has both a pool and a games room. Since none of the other hotels in the area have either, we are very popular with sports teams, specifically children’s hockey teams. I’m working the front desk one night when we’ve checked in two competing hockey teams, all children around nine and ten years old who all seem to know each other. While the parents are all hanging out in the lounge, most of the kids are either in the games room or the pool. I happen to notice on the security feed that there is a group of about eight boys playing on the second floor in the hallway, passing around little rubbers balls with mini plastic hockey sticks. I head upstairs to let them know we can’t have this.)

Me: “Hey, boys, I hate to ruin your fun but I can’t have you playing up here. Other people are getting ready for bed and it might disturb them. How about you join your friends in the games room?”

(All the boys immediately stop playing and hang their heads, beginning a chorus of “I’m sorry.” One little boy comes to the front of the group.)

Boy #1: “Excuse me, ma’am? Can we play this game in the games room? Or is there another place we can go play?”

Me: “Well, I do have an empty conference room on the first floor next to where your parents are. If you promise to behave you can play in there.”

(They all thank me and follow me downstairs. There are tables in the room and they ask if they can move them aside and I say yes. I come to check on them a few minutes later and they have folded the tables up and have arranged the room into a mini hockey rink and are playing nicely so I smile and let them be. A few minutes later, a small boy of about seven or eight comes up to the front desk.)

Boy #2: “Excuse me, ma’am, are there some kids in that room?” *he points to the conference room*

Me: “Yes, there are some boys playing in there.”

Boy #2: “Okay, thanks!”

(He runs to the room and comes back a few seconds later.)

Boy #2: “Excuse me, can you please call up to room 212 and tell my mom that [Brother] and I are playing downstairs and we’ll be back at 9.30?”

Me: “Absolutely!”

(He runs back happily and I call his room and talk to his mom. She laughs and thanks me but asks me to remind the boys that their curfew is 9:00. I go tell the boys and they shout a thank you and give me a big smile. Over the next hour or so several parents come by to check on the kids and ask if they are behaving themselves. I tell them the story of how I found them upstairs and how well behaved and polite they have been. Meanwhile many other kids from the games room and pool are coming by and politely asking for change for the vending machines, directions to the restrooms, extra pillows, etc. and always saying excuse me, please, and thank you. Several other kids go in to join the boys playing in the conference room. Finally the door to the conference room opens and all these little boys come parading past the front desk holding their hockey sticks and rubber balls.)

Boy #1: “Excuse me, ma’am, we just wanted to say thank you and let you know we cleaned up the room. Have a good night!”

(They each say “thank you” and “good night” as they walk by and I thank them each. I then go to the conference room to clean it and find they did in fact clean the room and put the tables and chairs back almost exactly as it had been and even picked up their candy wrappers and drinks and put them in the garbage and neatly tied up the bag. As I’m straightening up the last few details a few of the parents come up to me.)

Parent #1: “Hey, I hope they boys weren’t too much trouble. I know they were a bit noisy.”

Parent #2: “We’ll pay for any damage they caused.”

Me: “Actually, I have to say that these have been the sweetest, most well behaved bunch of kids I have ever had in here. I have been working here for years and have seen probably hundreds of teams and these are by far my favorite bunch. I have had full grown adults who gave me more trouble than they did. I really hope you all become regulars. We would love to see you back!”

Parent #1: “Well, thank you so much! They can be pretty rowdy, don’t let them fool ya, but I’m so happy to hear they’ve been good.”

Parent #3: “I am so proud of our boys right now, our MEN, I guess I should say!”

(A few days after they checked, our my manager received an email from the group leader, telling her how much the boys enjoyed their stay and how nice the lady at the front desk had been to them all. They thanked us profusely for everything, told us they had each left a glowing review of our hotel online, and promised to make this their regular spot each year that they came back. I personally look forward to having them. They made my night!)

Rock-A-Bye Banana

, , , , | Hopeless | June 7, 2017

(I am disabled and on benefits. One day I go to the local Disability Resource Center to get a form that will let me camp for free at Provincial Parks campsites. Sitting behind me are three children, ranging in age from approximately one through eight. At one point, the eldest starts singing ‘Hush Little Baby’ to her youngest sibling.)

Girl: “And if that diamond ring gets broke, Mama’s gonna buy you… umm…” *she pauses for a moment, trying to remember the next line* “… a banana!”

(It was just too cute. I couldn’t help myself and burst out laughing. I smiled at her and a minute later she began singing again. I was also treated to a rendition of ‘Miss Molly’ and ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’.)

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