Stepping into a Parent’s Shoes

This semester, I am taking a class called Working with Parents for my Special Education major.  Hence the name, this class is all about how disability affects a family and what role a teacher can play in the lives of these parents.  It has been an interesting class to sit through and I have really enjoyed hearing many different perspectives.  But nothing could have made me understand the role of a parent more than an experience that I had recently…

One night, I offered to take a friend of mine to a football pep rally at our university.  I was really excited to be able to take her because I knew how much this meant to her, but failed to take into account the fact that she uses a walker and how difficult this would be.  As we were walking up to the football stadium, we ran into another friend of ours who uses a wheelchair to move around.  We began to walk into the stadium with him and were thrilled to see how many new ramps were put up around the stadium making it so much more accessible.  Also, there was a whole new wheelchair section in the middle of the renovated student section that gave an incredible view of the field! Our friend would not stop talking about how thrilled he was to have a new wheelchair section in the stadium.  However, when I turned to my sweet friend with the walker, I realized that she did not want to be stuck in the wheelchair section.  She is much more mobile than people in wheelchairs and so really wanted to be able to go sit in the stands just like everyone else.   But I knew this was going to be very complicated.  You see, we have steep and narrow stairs that go up and down through the stadium stairs.  I immediately looked over and thought about how crazy this looked to try and get both my friend, who has limited balance, and her walker down all those stairs! Even though it looked impossible, we were both quite determined and so left the wheelchair section and headed to the other side hoping to find a way to get her into the stands.  After multiple attempts of going through different entrances, we quickly realized that our great idea of sitting in the stands may not be possible.  We spent almost the whole hour of the pep rally trying to force our way into the upper level stands with the least amount of steps, but ended up just leaving frustrated.  Even the security officers were getting nervous and concerned for my friend with her walker, and so by the time we decided to leave they were much relieved.  At the end of our fruitless adventure, we headed back to the dorm and my friend just cried.  I sat by her and tried to talk her through it and remind her that none of this was her fault.  For this brief couple hours, I felt like a parent watching their broken-hearted daughter cry over her limitations in life.  I had never once thought about how different her life was from mine and how difficult even the most simple thing as finding a seat could be.  My sweet friend with her walker was feeling the harsh repercussions of living in a fallen and broken world.  This difficult realization sank deep into us that night…

Once I returned home, I immediately had to cling to God’s word for a renewal of my spirit.  I turned to Isaiah 35 and was reminded of the promises of God for His redeemed people.  The day is coming soon when Jesus is to return and heal His distorted creation and make everything beautiful again! I know that this promise can be as encouraging and uplifting to other families as it was to me in a sorrowful time.

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.”

Isaiah 35:5-6

One thought on “Stepping into a Parent’s Shoes

  1. What an insightful account of your time with your friend. It is so very difficult to understand what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes. To experience the frustration of your friend in this way will certainly allow you to grow even more in your studies. I am so blessed to know you and how much this means to you.

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