It is still Acts of Kindness Week! Today we have a guest post from Claire, who is the mother a young man who spreads joy all year long to those he meets. Kannan also has Williams Syndrome, which seems to help him look past the things that may cause others to make assumptions or have feelings of prejudice. Instead, Kannan has the ability to look right into someone’s soul and love them unconditionally. This year he received a very special Valentine’s gift from an unexpected source; two admirers and new friends who wished to show their appreciation for his enthusiasm and acceptance. Here’s what Kannan’s mother has to say:
Kannan has always had an effect on people. I’ll never forget the day my doorbell rang and I opened it to find a lady standing at my door with a box of red popsicles. I recognized her from my son’s school and I knew red popsicles were my son’s favorite treat. My son, Kannan, was in early elementary school at the time. Apparently he had made quite an impression on her! A year or so later my doorbell rang again, and I opened it to find a man standing there with a wrapped gift in his hand. He also worked at Kannan’s school, and was bringing him a birthday gift. It was a digital watch and he explained he thought it would help Kannan learn to tell time.
Kannan is now in middle school and recently he came home with an unexpected gift; a big heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, given to him from the two maintenance guys. Yes, the maintenance guys! Kannan had spent some time shadowing them at school and loved it. Apparently he made an impression on them, too.
I continue to be dumbfounded by the amount of people’s lives that Kannan touches. Especially those people that many wouldn’t even think about (but should), like the maintenance workers at his school. For Kannan, no one is a stranger. He is extraordinarily kind, and everyone is someone to him. This is his gift, and even a trait of a genetic condition he was born with, called Williams Syndrome. Kannan, like those with Williams Syndrome, has no social inhibitions. He is exceedingly friendly, overly social, is extremely empathetic, has a keen interest in interacting with people, and most importantly, he does not see people differently. He doesn’t see race or physical appearance or anything else. He just sees people. For Kannan, and many of those with Williams Syndrome, people are THE most important thing in life.
Kannan was involved in a Williams Syndrome study when he was a young child. In the study he was given a choice of entering a room filled with all the toys you could ever imagine, or, enter a room with just one strange person standing quietly in the corner with nothing else in the room. The person also looked suspicious and was wearing a ball cap, dark sunglasses, and long coat. Which room do you think most children would select to enter? Kannan chose the room with the “suspicious” person. He waltzed right up and asked him (or her) to remove their glasses, and then he asked them their name.
The most profound moment of witnessing Kannan’s unbiased gift with people happened when we were in a store one day and he approached a woman in a wheelchair. She could not speak and seemed to have an intellectual disability, and that would be enough to make some individuals uncomfortable with interacting with her (not because they SHOULD be uncomfortable, but because many have difficultly interacting with those who are different from them in some way). Kannan squatted close to her face, looked soulfully in her eyes, and said, “Hi. What’s your name?” She could not respond, but I’d like to believe that she was touched that day by a random kid stopping to smile and say hello. I know I was touched. The sad truth is most of us never take the time to stop and say hello to people, especially to those that need it the most. Like the non-verbal woman in a wheelchair; a woman that many people look right through.
We could all learn from Kannan how to be kind and to put people first. He has shown how infectious it can be! For Random Acts of Kindness Week please be kind to someone. You never know what a difference it could make, or how much they may be in need of some simple kindness. A simple smile and “hello” to a person who looks like they need it can be enough. Try not to stop there, though, because if you spread enough kindness who knows what could happen? You too may soon have red popsicles or nice watches showing up at your door. Or, a heart shaped box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. ❤
It is my privilege to know Kannan and his mother. I love seeing his genuine and brilliant smile that lights up his whole face and reflects in his amber eyes. I posted two different pictures to show that even though he has grown up, his smile remains the same. Kannan has a lot to teach us about love and acceptance. Kannan doesn’t see what make us different. He sees what makes us the same.
Thank you, Kannan. And thank you, Claire for sharing his story! To learn more about Williams Syndrome you can visit the website for the Williams Syndrome Association.
❤ This year the week of February 14 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. I encourage you to find someone to reach out to with a gesture of compassion or assistance. Let them know that they are important, and show them that they are loved. ❤
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