Is there any parent out there with a differently-abled child who watches how typical children react when your kid is around?
(FYI this is a given. OF COURSE we do.)
Honestly, most kids realize very quickly that Jack is different and maybe they stare a little and then they go on their merry way. I have yet to get the kid with tons of questions and I have only gotten the rude kid once. Trust me, you will always remember the first rude kid.
I know it will happen more as Jack gets older and I have read enough on how to deal with those situations that I feel pretty confident how to respond. From what I have heard from seasoned parents, most children feel comfortable once they realize that non-typical kids have interests and like fun things, too. For instance, Jack loves boat rides (the new, best thing ever!). Jack loves the wind in his hair and to go fast. He also really likes Sesame Street. See what I'm doing here? You find some common ground. You tell them that Jack might walk differently and he may not be able to say many words, but he sure loves to play catch! And then if you hand the kid a ball and invite them to play with you, even better. Bonus points for awesome parents of typical kids who take the initiative in these conversations.
But friends, there is this whole other kind of kid that rarely gets mentioned. This is the kid who when seeing Jack arrive, runs full-speed to our car and yells out "Hey Jack-man!" Then later, he notices Jack playing with his toys and reading his books and sits down next to him to play. This kid doesn't give up after a minute when he realizes Jack is not responding in the way he'd like. He is fine to just sit there with him. He is comfortable. He talks now and then, but really, is happy just being there. He doesn't ask questions or need direction.
I was thinking about this little friend and you know what? He has always been excited to see Jack. I don't know how else to describe it, but he is an innately kind child. One who is not afraid or shy and doesn't need any prodding from his parents.
This is the kid who is rarely mentioned. I hear a lot about how kids are mean to those with special needs. I hear a lot about getting left out and not included as the years go on. It comes with the territory of kids growing up, becoming aware, and just doing what humans do. I understand why bloggers write so much about it, because it just hurts.
But then there are the kids who are just kind, plain and simple. No strings attached. No "what can you do for me?" in the relationship. I pray Jack always has a friend like this in life.