A Beautiful Mind
Hello everyone! I apologize for getting my blog out a bit late but I was out doing a book signing for Chicken Soup For The Soul: Children With Special Needs. What a truly amazing experience.
I was a bit nervous as it was my first experience with self-promotion. I worried no one would show up and if they did I wondered whether anyone would even be interested in our little story. But once I entered the massive metal doors and walked down a narrow aisle past rows upon rows of books, I spotted a tiny table. I smiled to myself as I got closer and saw a neatly piled tower of my book--my book--with a sign next to it that read, "Author Signing: Come and meet local author Chynna T. Laird and discover her wonderful story in Chicken Soup For The Soul: Children With Special Needs."
I stood and gawked at the small sign. "Local Author." "Author Signing." Oh my goodness...that's me! My nerves were gone and I was ready to take on the mission of getting that book into as many hands as I could.
With Jaimie by my side--who eagerly wanted to tell people about "the Jaimie book"--I waited for people to flock to our table. I have to tell you all, it's a much different experience than you'd think. Because of the subject matter of the book, people seemed a bit...uncomfortable to approach us. I guess I forgot that because I deal with a special needs child every day, other people may not have the same comfort level with the topic as I did. Somehow I had to help others feel less awkward about coming up to us and know any questions were welcomed. Then it happened--our first "customer."
It was a Mom of a child with ADHD who said she wanted to talk to me but wasn't sure how to approach me to ask her questions. I touched her hand and said, "Ask me anything you want. That's why I'm here."
My words must have eased her because we talked for about ten minutes about everything from how long it took each of us to get someone to listen to us ("My child is not 'just spirited'; something is wrong") to how difficult it is to find appropriate treatment for our children to people misunderstanding our children. You see, both SID and ADHD are disorders that aren't obvious on the outside--you can't see it on their tiny faces or see it on their bodies. To others, our children may seem like they simply have a major behaviour problem. She broke into tears because she had a person to listen to her, to relate to her feelings and how hard it can be to raise a child with special needs. Not only did she buy a book, we exchanged phone numbers and email addresses.
Another woman came right over to me and shook my hand.
"Thank you," she choked. "Thank you for helping us to see these children as children and not just for their disorders or illnesses."
Jaimie had fans of her own, which was so touching. One woman even asked if Jaimie was the one doing the signing! Of course, she couldn't respond to them. She absorbed herself in books and did her deep breathing to calm herself against the clicking heels on the wooden floor, the flourescent lights above us and the overpowering coffee smells snaking around our table. She did well. I was so proud.
But the most touching moment for me was as I packed up after my signing. One of the staff brought a lovely woman over to me--who happened to have autism spectrum--who wanted to talk to me before I left. The first thing that impressed me was that she didn't want to talk to me in front of Jaimie because she understood such children, "probably get talked about enough as though they aren't even there."
The staff member introduced us with tears in her eyes as the woman extended her hand out to me. I placed my hand in hers and she said:
"Thank you. Your story touched me in so many ways. How brave you are to come out and talk about your amazing daughter. I watched you with her--you don't treat her like a 'special needs child'; you treat her like a child and that's what you did in her story. I just had to tell you...thank you...and tell you that your daughter is an amazing little girl. I know she probably won't talk to me but please, please tell her for me, okay? Tell her I think she's an amazing person and she's my hero."
I squeezed the woman's hand and told her how much her words meant to both of us.
That experience reminded me why I write. It's not just for the money (when you get it), the recognition or even "fans" like my new friend, the lovely staff at Indigo or that wonderful woman who talked to me before I left. It's for the feeling of knowing one person--even if it is one person--is touched in some way by something I've written.
It also reminded me the true meaning of the following phrase: "A person's a person, no matter how small."
Thank you for anyone who came today and thank you for my Jaimie. Her and her beautiful mind.