It was a new experience for our family, having a third birthday for Amos at Wendy's. Our family historically has birthday parties at home, where a multitude of kids and entire families spill into our neighboring parking lot, and chaos breeds happy little people. Amos is an enigma though. He may adore his own family, but he doesn't naturally gravitate towards his peers and he doesn't love a crowd like the rest of us. As much as I longed to have a party, deep down I knew it would only be for me.
Turning three is a big deal though and to ignore his birthday made me feel even sadder. We held a thoughtful family pow wow and decided going to Wendy's would be what Amos would enjoy. We would invite two or three families to join us for supper and cupcakes on his birthday night at his favorite restaurant. Yes, we frequent the local establishment nearly every week, perhaps a lame family dinner, but these days it's the kind of thing that works for us. It was settled.
On his birthday, I called Wendy's to let them know we were coming and asked if we could reserve a section. Early that evening, we headed out in the rain, picked up balloons and cupcakes and found a carved out space in the warm and friendly restaurant. I made my way to the counter to say thank you and then held out my debit card to the manager and asked for it to be used so that our guests could each get a Frosty after supper. "No, thank you," she said. Lupe was her name and she went on to say that it had already been decided and the frostys would be on her tonight.
A dozen treats may not seem like a big deal, but it nearly broke my special needs mama heart, though in a good way. I swallowed my tears and explained to her that this birthday was not just standard fare. No, my three year old with special needs had started school today and at three, he was still without language. It had been a hard week truthfully, I explained.
"I know," she offered. Her quiet words and the eyes filled with empathy told me that the little blond boy in glasses careening around her eatery the last couple months had not passed by her unaware. Her simple offering was a gesture of kindness and love that said to a hurting mother trying to make the best of things, I care about you, you matter, come here as often as you like.
Thank you Lupe for giving me so much more than a Frosty.