The kid wouldn't stop. Just wouldn't stop. We could hear him from a long way off. The wail got louder as they got closer to the food court. Rounding the corner we saw a mother and child, she harried and and the end of her rope, the child resolute in the tantrum. You could feel everyone at the food court tense. "Don't sit next to me, don't sit next to me, don't sit next to me ..." the mantra of the crowd.
She collapsed in a chair not far from us, the child paused for a second and then redoubled his efforts. You could see that she was determined not to give into the tantrum and she did everything that a behaviourist would have recommended. She calmly said to the child that when he was quiet for two minutes, they would get a snack. Then she looked away. He was restrained by his stroller - if he hadn't he'd have been throwing himself all over the floor. "I can't believe she can't control her own child, I can't believe she can't control her own child ..." the new mantra as disapproving looks shot between those at tables other than hers.
Out of the blue a young woman with Down Syndrome appeared, walking steadily towards the woman who was still steadfastly ignorning the child. The woman with Down Syndrome may have been in her late teens, maybe early twenties, in her hands was a bottle of water and a fresh baked cookie from one of the food court vendors. She got to the table, having the attention of everyone in the food court. "You look like you need this," she said while giving the woman the water and the cookie.
Gratefulness filled the mother's eyes and she took off the top of the bottle and took a healthy drink. "Thankyou so much," she said to the woman who had given her this small gift. "It's no problem, I work in a day care center, I know what it's like when a child gets cranky like that." "So do we ... So do we ... So do we ..." suddenly everyone in the food court was on Mother's side, knowing what it's like to have a child or care for a child that's having a tough moment.
A single act of kindness changed everything. Now people were chatting with the mother, letting her know that we all understood. Mom, fully distracted from a tantrumming child, relaxed. In only a few seconds the child was distracted by his mother's distraction and, to be honest, the cookie. True to her word, when he was quiet for a few minutes she shared her cookie with him.
The woman with Down Syndrome waved at her on her way out of the food court.
I was left with one question.
What the hell is in that extra chromosone anyways?