I’m going to use today’s post to tell you about some really nice things that have happened to me.
Firstly, to put it into context, I’m currently going through what I guess could be described as A Difficult Time. Health, work, money – it’s just all a bit stressful right now. So when A Nice Thing happens, it means a lot.
Nice Thing No 1.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my son J is obsessed with shop logos. Same goes for adverts on TV. He has a few that he loves (can’t get enough of those meerkats) but his absolute favourite is the advert for the insurance company Direct Line. So deep is his love that for his third birthday in March the only cake he would even consider having was a Direct Line cake. My very talented friend V made a beautiful edible replica of the red Direct Line telephone which was almost too brilliant to eat. Almost.
Now, when J is feeling stressed or anxious, one of the things that calms him down is sitting at the laptop together and doing a Google image search for Direct Line. On one of these occasions, a few weeks ago, we came across a photo of a little boy holding a copy of the Direct Line phone that looked just like the real thing. We clicked on the photo and found ourselves looking at a website made by a man about his family. The little boy was his son. I clicked the “email me” button and apologetically asked the man where he had found this wonderful toy.
A few days later I received a reply. The photo was, he said, over ten years old and the phone was long gone. However – surprise – the man told me he actually works for Direct Line, and would ask whether there were any more of the phones around. Nearly a month went by and I heard nothing. Quite frankly I’d forgotten about him. Then out of the blue I received another email: “Hi there! Good news! We’ve finally tracked down one of the phones! Can you give me your address so we can send it to J?”
I had confirmation that the phone was posted today and will arrive tomorrow. I can’t wait to see J’s face. Of course the cynical amongst you will comment that Direct Line are obviously good at public relations. But I choose to see this as the kindness of a stranger. The man didn’t have a big box of the phones under his desk, waiting to be posted out to anyone that asked. It took him weeks to track the phone down. The email trail shows me that he went from department to department – asking, nagging, expressing a wish to provide a treat for a little boy with autism. He didn’t need to do it, but he did. So there we have it: Nice Thing No 1.
Nice Thing No 2.
I have come across an excellent charity who provide iPads for autistic children and schools in return for old mobile phones. iPads have been shown to be wonderful resources for children on the autistic spectrum, helping them to develop their communication skills, their co-ordination, their language … and *all* I need to do is send them 165 old mobile phones. So last week I duly sent an email to everyone I know, and posted a plea on my Facebook. Lots of people have pledged phones to me and are asking in their workplaces, so I’m hopeful, though so far I’ve only received four.
Out of the blue, I received a Facebook message from a friend. She had been speaking to her Mum (who I know well) and another mutual friend about how much they would love to help. She asked whether I would object to them organising a fund-raising event to buy J his own iPad? Would I object?? How could I possibly object? It was one of the kindest, most selfless offers I’ve ever received. Rather than object though, I did ask whether I could change the focus. Whilst it would be fantastic for J to have an iPad, what I really want is to turn his bedroom into a calm, welcoming sensory space, tailored specifically to his needs. I asked how they would feel about raising funds for this instead, as it would be completely beyond my means without some financial assistance. Very quickly I received a reply from my friend – and she didn’t only readily agree to the suggestion but had even taken the time to do some preliminary research into suppliers of sensory equipment.
They will be discussing what the fundraising event will be in due course (watch this space!) but I am just so incredibly grateful for these three people who wanted to do something nice for my little boy. The kindness of friends should never be underestimated.
I once knew someone who had a fridge magnet that said “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice”. I secretly scorned these words. At the time I was embarking on a new career, had just bought a house, and was moving up in the world. Now, quite a few years later, I understand exactly how true those words are. The kindness of friends and the kindness of a stranger have been more important to me than they could ever know.