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To The Lady Behind Me in the Airport Security Line

Friday, September 11, 2015

I smiled at you when I saw you behind me.  We stood near each other in the security line at the airport.  I had just finished loading the last of three bins onto the x-ray belt when I looked up to find you scornfully staring at my child. The blistering look that you gave me didn’t go unnoticed either.  For a second, I thought maybe you were just having a bad day, but then I overheard the comments you made to your friend. I heard you tell her that I’m a lazy parent.  I also heard you say that people, such as me, shouldn’t have children.  I heard you ramble off a list of things you would do differently. I overheard your entire conversation.

Based off of what you saw, I don’t blame you for having said what you did.  I understand where you were coming from.  It’s nice to know that you were feeling protective over my child.  After all, you saw a cute two year old brunette with big brown eyes, jumping, laughing and having fun with her tether strapped onto her back.  I agree with you, children don’t belong on leashes and I often feel as if I’m not good enough to raise such a beautiful child.   Not that you would have cared, but I wish that I could have shared with you a few things which were not so obvious at that moment.  I wish I could have talked to you about what you couldn’t see. 

The little girl you saw in the airport isn’t your typical child.  I know she looks very normal on the outside, but on the inside she’s very special.  What you didn’t see is that my child is partially blind.  As a newborn, she suffered a stroke. Her brain injury has caused her to have a very difficult time in public places.  What wasn’t apparent is that the noise in public places, such as an airport, can be very distressing and overwhelming for her, often causing her to run away.   What wasn’t so obvious is that she has difficulty seeing and listening at the same time, not because she is unruly, but because she can’t divide her attention between sight and sound.  What you didn’t see in that moment, is that she has difficulty walking, often tripping and falling down. What I wanted to tell you is that I tried your stroller idea, but she started to lose muscle tone from lack of exercise.  I really wanted to talk about the daily struggle to keep her safe, but before I could address your concerns, you walked off to catch your flight.

You see, the day I left our developmental pediatrician’s office to buy my daughter’s new accessory, I knew that you and I would meet one day.  I knew what you thought of me long before I heard your spoken words.  I knew that you would talk about me and disagree with my parenting choices.  What I didn’t know is how bad your words would hurt.  I didn’t know something as silly as an opinion would pierce through my heart every time I secured my child into her tether.

I still think about you.  But now, when I recall our encounter, I am filled with gratefulness.  Thank you for causing me to recognize how strong of a woman I am.  Thank you for shining a light on the lengths I will go to ensure my child’s safety, even if it means taking one for the team.  Thank you for helping me understanding that in moments of pain, I can find happiness in my daughter’s smile and sound of her laughter just as I did that day in the line at security.  I hope you find your happiness too.

According to the AOTA Cortical Visual Impariment (a/k/a neurological visual impairment) is the leading cause of blindness in children.  To learn more about neurological vision impairment visit or watch Christine Roman discuss the evaluation of functional vision in children with CVI.  You can also visit American Printing House for the Blind or read any of the publications listed by American Foundation for the Blind

7 Responses to “To The Lady Behind Me in the Airport Security Line”

Nicole Weinman said...

You are an AMAZING Mom! Thank you for sharing your story and the beautiful photos of Emma.

Krissi said...

I love your positive perspective! It's something to be learned from and followed - especially in times of adversity. Thank you for writing.

Heidi said...

What a great post. I wish everyone could read this and understand that we are each doing the best we can with our own set of circumstances and special situations.

Bill Manning said...

Thank you for your post, and I am sorry you came across such an uncaring and crass person. As a father of a spirited 4 year old and 2 year old, I can relate to so many of the things you shared, though my child does not have the condition of your precious little one. Both of my children have used the "leash", which we call the backpack. For me, it is a necessity, as they are both lightning fast. They both love it and welcomed putting it on. This little cute device keeps them safe while allowing them the independence they need while learning to walk and the ways of the world.
Especially when traveling, I find fellow travelers to be at their worst behavior. Either they have never had children or traveled with them, or they have forgotten just how challenging it can be for all parties involved. Caring, sympathy, and empathy are often checked at the door.
Thank you once again, and keep up that great attitude.

MichelleNOLA said...

What an amazingly positive post. Some spend so much time judging others, but it's only to take focus off their own misery. Shake it off and keep your chin up, you're doing a wonderful job!

Carlton Anne Cook Walker said...

Thank you for a wonderful post! y daughter, also, has some vision -- but not enough to protect her. Now, 14 years old, she walks home from school (over a mile, crossing streets by herself and is on her High School's Junior Varsity Golf team -- again, travelling unasisted). For us, the key to this independence was the long white cane. Please check into this free program ( I am so glad that I did, and I bet you and your daughter will love it, too!

jamie said...

Love this blog check min out beautiful daughter!!!!!