The Honors Lot. (Cue the 20th Centruy Fox Big Movie of The Week music) It’s the legendary, closest to the school parking lot at our high school. Our school of 2 trillion kids (possible exaggeration) is one of those palces that looks more like a junior college, with a huuuuuuge building set on a massive amount of acreage. The residents of our town surely appreciate the beautiful fields and extensive landscaping it sits on. But for the kids that attend, specifically the older kids that drive, the hike from the student parking lot up mountains and through valleys (or up a couple of hills and across the visitors lot) is, well, a HIKE!
However, the Honors Lot… music again please…. is right next to the building! Yup – if you park there you are just a hop, skip and so close no jump into the building. So, you can imagine that all 2 trillion (or like 2000) of the students want in! Not so fast.
As the name suggests, you need to have a certain, quite high GPA to qualify for a pass to park in the Honors Lot. And you have to pay a fee. And you have to wait….In line… A long one… on the day the few open spots become available.
My oldest blind son, Michael, got a pass in the Honors Lot the summer before Junior Year. Like most teens, my son is very good at finding loopholes. To make a long story short (believe me I can drag this story out and ususally have audiences crying laughing through it): Michael has always been quite the over achiever (hello, first born) as well as right in the mix of all things most talked about with his peers. He wanted to be a prestigious Honors Lot pass holder. So, he took a look at what the qualifications for such an honor were. He met them all. And… he noticed that nowhere in all of the policies/procedures/documentation for that lot did it say anywhere that you had to be… NOT BLIND… to get a pass!
Sooooo there I was… on a hot summer day…. standing in line with my EXTREMELY happy BLIND son… waiting for his Honors Lot parking pass. Now, a side bar to give you a little insight into my Michael and his reputation: one of the school admins pulled me aside and whispered in a very nervous with a side of curious tone,
“Um Kristin… he’s going to be driving the car????”
Awwww sweet Jesus the perceptions my boy has impacted! I giggled and patiently replied, “Oh gosh no! He will have a friend drive him!” Her reply was one of my most favorite things on our journey:
“Well, he seems to figure out how to do everything so I thought he figured out driving too.”
Priceless. And so perfect. That’s my Michael. He figures it out. Blindness is still there. It has not gone away… yet he figures out how to do the things he wants to do!
I am not sure if Michael’s need for creative problem solving is what has made him so resourceful and productive, or if he is a creative problem solver by nature… either way I see a brilliant future CEO! Here’s what he did: once he got the pass he texted all of his freinds that didn’t make the GPA cut and let them know that if they drove him into school, they could park in the Honors Lot! He had a schedule of drivers – and the wait list to be his driver was so long that he “fired” kids that made him late! (My son is gracious – he gave two strikes before being replaced!)
You know, dirving is the one thing about blindness that sent my Michael and me into a bit of a pit back when he was turning 16. It was the one thing that, until that point in our lives, I could not work around. I couldn’t suddenly get him to drive like he so desperately wanted to do. He is blind and he cannot drive. You can read how although I wasn’t able to fix that issue, I did create a 16th birthay that he would forever remember as exhilerating, as opposed to disappointing, here in my blog.
The big takeaway here: ALL of us experience a challenge – some more often than others – but all of us have stuff happen. It might not be as big as blindness, but whatever it is that knocks the wind out of your sail, it’s big to you. I’ve learned that one of the key things to managing the challenge is to check your perception of it. Early in my journey I saw blindness as a nightmare and I was living a daily nightmare: Wake up. Michael is still blind. Sigh. Cry. Repeat. However, when my perception changed, thanks to a very happy 3 yeaer old Michael, I began to see it differently. I began to think of creative ways to work with blindness as opposed to praying it away and staying stuck waiting for that day. The beautiful part is that my children are growing up with the same mindset. There is no victim mentality in our home. We are problem solvers (and apparently very good loophole finders!)
I know setbacks, a change of plans, can be very hard. Give yourself the time and grace to take it all in. Then work on your perception of the challenge/crisis. Stay tuned to my blog here for the next steps I took to Live Unconditionally – to enjoy my journey without waiting for sh@! to work out.
Kristin Smedley is a 2019 Champion of Hope Award winner. She is an author, non profit leader and TEDx speaker. She originally planned to be a third grade teacher… and then two of her three children were diagnosed as blind. Kristin now shares her journey of raising her kids to not just survive challenges, but to thrive! She speaks internationally regarding blindness and resilience, and she just launched her new series teaching people how to Live Unconditionally. Watch her TEDx talk here and order her new book here. If you are interested to have Kristin speak at your upcoming event, school, or business meeting, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her here!