airport

Watchful over the Holidays

Years ago, I was introduced to one of the most amazing couples I’ve ever met. Parents of children with disabilities bond immediately. It was no different with Joe, Cindi, and me. I have enormous respect for Joe and Cindi; they have seen and heard the best and worst of me over the years. Traveling and holidays often bring out the worst in families already challenged by being misunderstood, judged, hurried, and out of the typical routine. Cindi shares one of their family’s experiences below. If you happen to be traveling over the holidays, please remember that not everyone can move as quickly or easily as you or I can. Being helpful, tolerant, and adaptable to differences are priceless gifts to us. I hope Cindi’s story helps you remain mindful in the days ahead.

WATCH-ful over the Holidays

Holiday travel can be challenging. Add to that special needs, and it’s a whole different ball game! Going through airport security with our son Joey can prove to be interesting.

His special needs require us to “prompt” him to take off his shoes, “prompt” him to move forward, and “prompt” him to go through the x-ray on his own. He listens, usually, but basically needs prompts.

We have our routine. Joe puts his things and Joey’s into the bin and sends the items on their way. One time, at the end of this process, Joey obediently put his shoes on.

But this time, he kept tugging at the back of his left shoe, saying, “It’s not right.”

We checked the shoe, and all seemed fine, so we tied the shoestrings and started moving him down the concourse to our designated gate.

Several times he mentioned that “it wasn’t right,” but we all kept walking. As we prepared to get something to eat, he sat down and once again mentioned very nicely “something was not right.”

While I went to get us a sandwich, I asked Joe to please check Joey’s shoe.

Joe came back to tell me that, indeed, something was wrong: he had accidentally put his watch in Joey’s shoe instead of his own as it went through security screening!

What a great reminder of a few different things!

  • First: the importance for those of us caring for one with special needs to be attentive and alert to things they tell us—verbal or non-verbal. It’s important to understand their facial expressions, their behavior or misbehavior—as we stop, look, and listen to what we are observing and what they seem to be saying—and to take action to solve their situation if we can. Often, even the non-verbal person will have expressions we can read just by looking into their eyes. We can see trust or the lack of trust, joy or sadness, frustration or contentment. And I think they can read our non-verbal communication as well.
  • Additionally, as the holidays approach, what a great reminder it is to look for things that aren’t always obvious: a new Scripture verse to teach us; a new person sitting near us at church to take a moment to learn about and care for in the moment; people who have lost loved ones and who are quiet but who, with a spoken word or question, might open up to us; and of course celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus in the quietness of our hearts and with those we love.
Church at Christmas
Image from Pixabay

This is all a reminder to me to listen and observe well and not just keep on moving! Next time? Yes, we’ll “watch it!”

Let Me Hear From You

How can you be more watchful in the days ahead? Not just during the holidays but in the year to come?

In what ways can you take time to look at others closely, not to judge or label but to show the love of Jesus to those who are different?

This kind of attentiveness is not just a gift to us; it will change your heart in more ways than you can imagine. I would love to hear your thoughts!

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Joe and Cindi

Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on family and special needs. They speak nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember marriage getaways, authored Unexpected Journey: When Special Needs Change Our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife, and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at www.cindiferrini.com and social media at: www.facebook.com/cindi.ferrini, www.facebook.com/UnexpectedJourney/, or www.facebook.com/MyMarriageMatters/.

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