I shared this story several years ago with family and friends. I thought of it again as I vacuumed that highly-trafficked rug area last week. It’s due for a deep clean once more. I’d love to make an appointment with this company, just to have the chance to catch up with the carpet cleaning guy.
With as much traffic our floors and carpets get, I've often wondered if it would be wise to purchase a steam cleaner. During Ronan's de-robing phase a few weeks ago, I came to a conclusion that YES, we do need our own steam cleaner.
During that phase, I scrubbed Ronan's bedroom carpet daily. The cleaner I got his carpet, the dingier other carpeting in the house started to look. While trying to recall the last time we had them professionally cleaned, I remembered a conversation that the carpet cleaner guy and I had.
We were talking about our kids, the summer ahead, and fun family things to do in town. Halfway through the conversation, Ronan walked into the room where we were talking. Boy was he was a sight! Ronan had tried to put on a bathing suit over his shorts, two pair of swim goggles, and swim floaties--both of them on one arm.
The carpet cleaner guy stopped mid-sentence. Ronan, taking no notice of him, stood in front of him and then stared at me. Signing 'swim, water, boat', his way of saying that he wants to go to the pool, Ronan reached for my hand. I offered it to him but didn't leap into action. Tugging on my hand, Ronan looked puzzled. It would be at least another hour before the carpet cleaning crew was done. That, and because it was raining, had us staying home with no plans to go to the pool that day at all.
But Ronan didn't care.
He wanted to go swimming.
What followed wasn't pretty.
The carpet cleaner guy witnessed sadness, frustration, and the beginnings of a meltdown. I don't know if it broke his heart, but it broke mine. Since it was such an emotional moment, I wrote some thoughts down after the guy left and after I'd successfully redirected Ronan.
Cat - 1, Carpet Cleaner Dude - 0
The guy had zero knowledge of vaccine injury. Or, maybe he was just clueless. Maybe that's a good thing. He and his wife homeschool their kids, and come to find out, lots of their homeschooling friends do not vaccinate. Maybe their friends' influence helped. He and I each have five children in the same age range. It was interesting to share what I knew. It was insightful for him to see how we lived. It was very interesting watching him watch Ronan. The carpet cleaner dude could easily see the difficulties and the non-verbal struggles. He saw that clearly.
But he knew that there was a great amount of beauty in my child, too.
Maybe this guy didn't have to play the Russian roulette/dodge the bullet with any of his five children. Maybe he vaccinated some and they walked away unscathed. He didn't share that with me. But, as I started to tell Ronan's story he was shocked, you know the cover-your-mouth-reaction shocked. His eyes got wider as I told him about what happened to Ronan--happy and healthy, then vaccines, then slower to develop, then the discovery of no immunity to the diseases despite the shots, then the seizures, and now special ed, and fighting, and praying, and hoping, and thinking, and forever advocating for all vaccine-injured kiddos everywhere.
While I could've talked longer, what I was telling him left him speechless.
Maybe he was just lucky. Maybe they were lucky. Either way, his kids have a chance to be typical, well-developed, and on target with their skills and with learning. They have a chance to be pain-free, to grow up to be active members of society. As they age, hopefully they’ll understand, sympathize, empathize and know to do something about the atrocities my children have suffered, seen and will possibly live with for their entire lives.
This 40-something guy stole glances at Ronan as I spoke and as I shared as much as I could during the time he spent in our home. As he listened, the carpet cleaner guy wasn't just a carpet cleaner guy anymore. He was a Dad, a Dad who listened to every word I said while we sat at my kitchen table. Hopefully Ronan's story cemented a thing or two in his mind, things I’ve shared with other parents, and things I’ll continue to share:
Always educate before you vaccinate.
Trust your instincts.
Protect your children.
You do not want to be on this side of a vaccine injury.
You just don’t.
Cat - 0, Carpet Cleaning Dude – 1
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.