It was the second time Scarlett, Sonny and I had been invited to 10 Downing Street for their annual Christmas bash. An honor and an experience to say the least, Scarlett doesn’t quite grasp what is happening, but maybe one day I will be able to tell her all about the special places she has visited.
Now the actual visit seemed like an awful lot of fun, but then there was the dreaded journey, a 9am start and not landing back in Manchester at 1am. Scarlett has a tendency to want to wonder around and bounce about, I did worry how I would manage with the two young ones on the coach for that amount of hours. I always vowed to never avoid doing things we wanted to do regardless of Scarlett having a problem with her sight, so ambitiously I agreed.
Not five minutes in, she was off, wanting to climb everywhere and wander up and down the coach aisles. We sat on the coach by a gentlemen and his two son’s neither of whom I had met before. This man seemed to know Scarlett and despite her ability to respond verbally he took a lot of his time to talk to her and sing along with her nonscensical lyrics. This man was ever so kind to me and Scarlett and couldn’t do enough to offer help to me and my anarchist daughter. Help on and off the coach, help at the services, interacting with her in a way that most people avoid.
As it was a very long journey and there was plenty of time for chit chat he was telling me about the young man he was accompanying, he was 6 foot 2 and around 18 stone, by no means small in stature. He made eye contact and made requests which his chaperone understood, he loved food and upon arrival a every service station he gestured to his mouth that he wanted food, reminded me a little of Scarlett and her love affair with all things yummy!
The gentleman continued to explain that the young man he was with was his foster son. He and his wife worked in the care sector and they had seen this young man frequent the ‘half way’ house in between foster homes, of which there had been many. The young man who seemingly came across as calm and manageable had been quite a handful in his past and there hadn’t been a placement suitable to manage his needs or behaviours. So, the gentleman and his wife took it upon themselves to try and give him a good life, despite knowing about his colourful past. To be completely honest I think their decision to work with and look after this young man was very brave.
I suppose, it made me think about Scarlett and her being my blood, and the additional tribulations that come along with raising her. I suppose, I thought, would this be a decision I would make for myself? I would never ever change anything about my daughter, the angel that I carried in my womb for nine months, breast fed, created… but to decide to take on a child, one that has additional needs, that wasn’t ‘my own’, would it be a choice that I would make for my own life. That thought process made me quite sad, but the family that took this child in, and decided they wanted to work with him to give him a good and loving life, I really can’t articulate what a wonderful gift they had given this young man.
It was just ‘there’ in that gentleman, like a light, he received so much satisfaction from helping others, he was jolly and bubbled over with positivity. He himself had his hands full, but helping me on the journey from hell just seemed like it was his purpose. He from his core cared about others, despite how well he knew them, despite how much he had on his own plate. He really encompassed my belief that the happiest among us are the ones who do things for others. It really is a rare quality to see with such saturation.
He went on to explain that himself and the young man would be doing a tour of Europe during the summer. The young man really enjoyed travelling in vehicles, and that entering 10 Downing Street wasn’t really the point of the trip, he was in it more so the lengthy coach journey and food stops along the way. He made a point of truly enriching this young man’s life with adventure and experience and took every quirk and trait completely in his stride. This young man’s needs became more important than his own, his happiness and being settled was paramount, and he oozed selflessness. He also went on to explain that he was having to fight to keep custody of this young man after he turned 18 as they were intending on institutionalising him as he was too hard to handle. It dumbfounded me to hear that ‘the state’ in all its wisdom would believe that removing this young man from a loving and caring home and placing him into a new environment would be a good idea. Sometimes I sit back and think this world is completely crackers, devoid of any kind of reasoning and sense. This young man had a family, stability, he was cared for, but finances were at the forefront of consideration in this particular case.
When inside Downing Street, the helpful nature of this gentleman didn’t falter and he continued to assist with me with my two young children. People often see you struggle, sometimes casting an eye in a judgmental way, thinking why is that child melting down or banging, rather than offering a helping hand.
When we finally arrived back in Manchester, my knight in shining armour, managed to get two tired kiddies and both car seats back to my car in one fowl swoop, which may seem like something small, but at 1am after trying to control an irate little girl for hours on a coach that she was unhappy to be on was like all my Christmases had come at once.
My motivation for writing this is my way of expressing my absolute awe for this kind gentleman and so that I could forever capture my thoughts about the experience I had with meeting him. The world would be a much more gracious place if it was populated with an army of him. I hope that for some of you that read this it helps you to take stock about the truly remarkable nature of this kind soul and how his level of selflessness really does contribute to making the world a better place. You can’t change the way other’s think or act, but you can certainly do your bit and pass on your outlook to the little humans your create. How exceptional would it be if we lived in a world where we didn’t just look after our own but offered everyone that needed it a helping hand. That random act of kindness from that man for that day has impacted me in such a way that the shock waves of his behaviour still pass through me and helped shaped future thoughts and actions.
It is all in the little things.