One of the most interesting things about raising a child with special needs is the reaction from the people around us.
When our family walks into a restaurant and the host seats us, I'm usually in the back. You know, to make sure all the kids follow dad and make it to the table.
I can see the other customers faces as the host walks by, then Chuck, then usually Sharaya or Diana and they keep talking to the person they're with or they take a bite of food. But then Beth walks by and almost every single time they stop... fork half way to their mouths or mid sentence - and they turn to look at Beth. And they watch her walk all the way past.
Sometimes they look up and catch my eye and the look on my face varies. I'm sure it depends on the look on theirs. Sometimes it's knowing - an older couple with great big smiles and they'll wink at me. I wonder if they have a child or grandchild with special needs.
Other times it's people who just don't know what to think about her. They just look.
Still others will whisper something to the people they're with and kind of point to Beth, like they're saying, "Quick. Look at her." They don't smile. They just stare.
But then there are people who look at your child with love. They look at her and know she can do anything she puts her mind to. They look at her and are proud of her accomplishments.
I actually caught one of the moments with my camera. It was at Beth's high school graduation in 2004 and she had just walked across the stage, shook the principal's hand and received her diploma. Then she made her way down the stairs, past some of the faculty and was headed back to her seat when I snapped this:
She's completely oblivious to them but you can tell they're celebrating her accomplishment. They're genuinely excited for her! That doesn't happen all the time and I love the way they're looking at her!