Eleanor and the Things I’ve Learned

Me and EleanorMy daughter Eleanor is a remarkable girl. She looks at the world different than most people and sometimes I’m baffled by her. Eleanor is autistic and she sometimes lacks a tolerance for disappointment. She also sometimes holds on to grudges or resentments, like many of us do. But what I really want to write about is one of the most remarkable qualities she has.

She’s friendly. Yes friendly. The world needs more of what Eleanor has. When I take Eleanor anywhere, she loves to chat with people and complement them. She’ll come up to complete strangers and complement them on their shirts, their hats, how cute their kids are, how cute their babies are, etc. Sometimes people don’t know how to take it, but most people say thanks and it almost always brings a smile to their face.

We all want to feel good about ourselves and that autistic girl of mine figured out that going out of your way to be nice to someone makes you feel good. It is a life lesson I have learned the hard way. So often, we assume people just want to be left alone. We never know what people are thinking or what they are going through. Who knows, someone who is feeling down on themselves may really need that “hey I like your hair” or “I like your sweater.” I believe we owe it to ourselves and others to become more judgmental. Judgmental in a positive way: to see the good in everyone.

I find it interesting that I have learned so much from people with disabilities. From my cousin Jenny Medford who has downs syndrome, I learned the importance of loving others without judgment and the incredible power of a hug. From my daughter Eleanor, I’ve learned the importance of giving out complements and to go out of my way to let people know they matter.

So if you see me wander into the local Walmart with my daughter Eleanor, don’t be surprised if she comes up to you and finds something positive about you to point out. And I hope you all learn that yes indeed, you have positive qualities worth mentioning. And let us all become more judgmental, and judge people favorably. Each act of love creates its own ripple. Let’s keep the waters choppy with open expressions of love and encouragement. Love my Eleanor.


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