To the Dad at the orthodontist's office

I had to drive around for a few minutes, searching for a parking spot, so I got more than a quick glance of observation.  First I noticed this executive-ly dressed man holding hands with what seemed to be a middle school age girl.  She had on a cute North Face fleece and was obviously chattering away quite happily. Not that it's unheard of for a man to be escorting his daughter in to get brackets tightened but most of the time moms handle most of that stuff.  At least at our house.  So the duo caught my attention.  I circled the block again and noticed more.

She was a special needs gal.  And you, well-suited Dad,  were listening intently, just as happily as she was chattering.  Although you were both walking through the maze of cars, you kept turning your head to look her in the eyes.  That made my eyes water.

You were walking pretty slowly, which I noticed was contrasted to my normal neckbreak speed when I am walking a child into an appointment.  And your pace allowed me to park my car and wind up at the door at the same time you did.  You held the door for us both and somehow your poise and grace made your daughter, my daughter, and me feel significant.  Yours had stopped chatting briefly to smile at us.  I smiled back and told her I liked her owl sweater.  She grinned broadly and thanked me enthusiastically.  We all headed into the office. 

I sat down while my daughter checked herself in.  (She's been accompanying her older siblings to this office since before she was born so she knew the drill from Day 1.  Plus I am a lazy Mom and I make my kids do as much as possible for themselves.)  I managed to scan the magazine in my hands while watching your daughter station herself at the check in post.  You made a move to help her and she affixed her hands to her hips, turned to face you, broke into a broad grin and said "I got this, Dad".  You stepped back and let her look for her name on the screen.  It wasn't there.  You made a move to the desk for help but she beat you to it.  She handled the dilemma with the receptionist pretty much before you could intervene.

I held my breath at her confidence.  And her cheerfulness.

And the dignity with which you treated her.

By now I could not read the magazine in front of me.  And it had nothing to do with needing my reading glasses. 

You followed her to the back, her chatting happily and spreading sunshine to each person in her path.

I reflected.  And remembered suddenly why you looked familiar. Over a decade ago, my older girls played on a ball team you helped my husband coach.  You treated all those girls with the same dignity and grace and kindness I saw you manifest towards your ESP teenager at the orthodontist office.

That goes a long way in explaining the confidence and cheerfulness of your daughter. She is secure in the value she possesses in the eyes of her parents.  Great job, Dad, great job.  You've been doing it well for a long time.

My thoughts spread to my children.  Then to children everywhere.  Then on to all of us.  In some way or another, we each are "special needs".  And the unshakeable knowledge that we are well loved by our Father is what we each need to be cheerful and confident and positively affect those we meet on our path. 

Just like Hallie.