Every single set of eyes in entire building were now on her family. The ear-piercing sounds bounced off the walls and straight into her heart like hundreds of tiny knives. She had dreaded this moment. But out of the entire, glaring audience, one waitress had an entirely different expression.
Tons To Do
For Jamie Mathews Heustes, to say the day had been long would have been the understatement of the century. It had been a precarious list of errands, appointments, and other stops that just couldn’t be put off any longer. Through it all, she kept a close eye on one person.
While her husband was a gem and did more than his fair share of family tasks, it was her baby boy, Ian. She could see the day was already taking its toll. But since they were so far away from home, and all of them starving, there was one more stop to make – one that would end up with her in tears.
The local Cracker Barrel was a safe choice – at least for Jamie and her husband. The airconditioned environment was more than welcome. So was any food they could get their hands on as fast as possible. The problem, however, was with little Ian.
The world wasn’t not allowed to continue unless he was able to go to McDonalds so he could get a Dory or Nemo toy from the current Finding Dory kid’s meal. Jamie flashed a desperate look to the waitress and apologized for bringing in outside food. But that wasn’t the only hassle her family had brought into the restaurant.
From the moment they sat down, it became a juggling act of taking care of her baby boy while trying to read the menu. It might sound simple to anyone else, but the spark that lit the pile of dynamite was when Ian opened the happy meals and found they didn’t have the toy he wanted. Cue meltdown.
It started as tears. Both Jamie and her husband knew what was coming and let out long, exhausted sighs. Ian screamed at the top of his lungs – so loud that it got the attention of every single person in the restaurant. That’s when the glares and whispers started.
Couples trying to enjoy a quiet lunch rolled their eyes and flashed dirty looks at the disruption. Even families with other kids looked surprised at the outburst. Jamie felt the entire world crush down on her as soon as she overheard the dreaded words “spoiled brat” and “horrible parents.” It was her turn to burst into tears. The waitress came back.
It was a simple, “Are you ready to order?” but Jamie saw a different look in the woman’s eyes. She grabbed something random from the list of entrees while her husband picked up a frantically screaming Ian and carried him outside. But that wasn’t the end of it, nor the entire truth of the meltdown.
Jamie put her head in her hands and cried – not for her son’s reaction, but because of everyone else’s. Ian wasn’t a spoiled brat. He was an amazing boy who happened to have autism. The stimuli of the day had been too much, and the lack of toy was just the breaking point. But that wasn’t all.
He was normally so good, but today had just been one of “those” days. It was uncontrollable. Jamie hated the way people looked at Ian and immediately judged. What happened to compassion? It was then the waitress returned with a to-go bag and a handwritten note.
Jamie read the words and broke down even more. It wasn’t a scolding note like she had been given in the past. Rather, it was a simple gesture of sympathy and encouragement. And, when Jamie tried to pay for the lunch, the waitress said it had already been covered!
She looked at the wonderful waitress and asked again if she could pay. The woman flashed a warm smile and insisted her meal was covered. She might not have had her own kids, but she understood what was going on. Jamie immediately went to social media.
It had been a simple gesture, but one that had meant the world to her family and changed the course of the entire day. The normal, crushing feelings that came with these meltdowns sometimes felt impossible. So, the note was a godsend. So were people’s reaction to the post.
Love and support came pouring in. Stories from parents in similar situation made her feel less isolated and more acknowledged. People in the service industry reminded her she was still a good mom. It was a random act of kindness that she was certain would help her though some future turmoil.