Learning About Vacations From My Special Needs Son…

Believe it or not, my son who has special needs is the one teaching me. This shouldn’t surprise me.  Jesus tells us to look to the children if we want to know how to receive the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:16-17).  But I never expected to learn something about vacations from my son.

Recently my sister visited England.  My dad and brother biked across the state.  My brother is traveling through the United States and Europe during his pastoral sabbatical.  My step-mom just returned from a mission trip in Mexico. Friends are taking trips this summer that include the Black Hills and other places.  Everyone is going somewhere.

Later today I might go to … Wal-Mart.

Being the mom of a special needs son means we don’t vary our routine by much.  All children need a routine (and some of us adults benefit from one too).  But we depend on routine.  We may decide to go to Target instead of Wal-Mart or the playground by the lake instead of the one by the city pool.  But our routine is basically the same everyday.  Some special needs kids crave the expected.  When that changes, the unexpected, the unknown, it messes with their equilibrium.  And when you mess with this world, you can create turbulance worthy of seeking the nearest storm shelter.  

So, needless to say, we don’t vacation much.  Routine is just one reason we stick close to home.  We’ve learned the hard way “There’s No Place Like Home”.  But every spring I get asked, “What vacation plans does your family have this summer?”  I thinks it’s harder for the person asking the question to hear my real answer, so I usually hem & haw around trying to find the right words without putting a damper on their own vacation excitement. 

So here is where I get to what my boy is teaching me.  My reasons for wanting vacations has always been all about ME.  They are all about why I need a vacation, where I want to go, what I want to do or not do.  All about me.  But if my son was more able to plan his vacations, I am absolutely sure his trips would be all about everyone else.  He is a people person.  If my mom were alive today she would call him a ‘social butterfly’.  He LOOOOVES to be with people, talk to people, see people all day long.  He would spend vacations hugging, invading personal space, asking very personal questions. (For instance, “What’s the name of your underwear?”  Yep, you heard me.  Make your answer creative.  We don’t want to hear any boring Hanes or Jockey answers.)  But mostly … loving people unconditionally.

What I am learning about vacations is what my son already knows about life.  It’s not about me.  It’s taken me all these years to figure something out that he lives day in/day out:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  

Bible verse I’m loving today:

Mark 12:30-31

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