Every afternoon I pick Bean up from school. I pull into a specially marked parking spot and wear a laminated star around my neck. This green star gives me a special privilege. It allows me to bypass the check in system; a machine that asks all sorts of information about the nature of your visit, takes your picture, then spits out a sticker with your photograph that you slap on your chest showing everyone you are allowed to roam the halls. My star also allows me to enter the school building 15 minutes before dismissal so that I can get my kid out before the rest of the students pour into the halls and outside to their waiting parents.

As I pull into my special parking place each afternoon I cross the pick-up line where parents have been sitting in parked cars for up to 30 minutes reading books and magazines or talking on the phone while they wait for their kids. They look up as I pass in front of their car, no doubt, seeing my star which identifies me as the parent of a special needs child. As I make my way to Bean’s room just before days end teachers are quietly lining their students up according to their way of transportation: walker, bus, or car. Even though parents are not allowed in the school at this time of day no one questions my presence, because of my star, but rather they give me a soft grin and a nod.

After I retrieve Bean from his class and gather his things we make our way back to our car, along with a handful of his classmates and their parents. I don’t always notice the parents waiting in the pick-up line outside. But today I did. As my green star blows in the wind and Bean wobbles beside me (and Tank stops to play in a puddle) I observe their glances. Peering over their reading material or watching while on the phone, I feel their looks. We are an obviously different group. Most have an atypical gate, some use walkers and one is in a wheelchair. Some wear glasses and some wear their diagnosis on their face, like Bean. I recognize their looks. Looks of pity, of interest, of compassion, of knowledge. I wonder what they are wondering. I start to guess but my thoughts are interrupted by the sound of Bean’s voice yelling, “T. . . . T . . .” as loud as he can. He is calling out to Tank who has moved on from the puddle to some rocks and is not keeping up.

As I hear Bean calling to his brother, rushing him along, I am flushed with pride as I realize that the star around my neck may give me school privileges but it’s the Star holding my hand that makes me feel like the most privileged person in the world every single day.


Lark said...

love the last sentence :o)

Beth said...

I know exactly the looks you're talking about. I wish people could know how normal our lives really are.

amy starkweather said...

I found your blog through the Procrastinator Party and decided to browse your other postings. I have a child with special needs also and really enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing and putting into words what so many of us feel.

FrouFrouBritches said...

I know what you mean. I have a son with autism.

Richard Moore said...

Great! We could let these looks and stares paralyze us because of these awesome children in our lives or free us to live to the full. We can be an agent of change. In helping even one person understand who and how special our children are. Thanks

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