My oldest sister (let's call her Smead) has five children. Five. Yep. Five. They range in age from 12 to 4, and each child is delightful and spunky in their own unique way.
I have learned a lot standing on the sidelines watching my sister raise her herd. I have learned how to prioritize (with five children, each child can only do one extra-curricular activity and no one has ever died from doing only one activity), how to keep perspective (try calling someone with five children to complain that grocery shopping with two is just too hard), and most of all I have learned what it means to be your child's advocate.
One of Smead's daughters, Hope-Lan, is legally blind. What Hopie lacks in vision, she completely makes up for in spunk. As they say in Smead's house, bold and blind is a dangerous combination. It is hard to know that Hopie is visually impaired as she zips past on her scooter or bike. You know that song, "Anything you can do, I can do better?" It's Hopie's theme song.
While Hopie lives life big-time, Smead stands in the background taking on the challenges of advocating for Hopie in the school and in the community. It isn't always easy. Don't get me wrong - Smead does not expect the world to make life all smooth sailing for Hopie. Smead's a firm believer that everyone is dealt cards in life - some have "better" hands than others, but you do the best you can with what you get. Life isn't meant to be fair, but it also isn't meant to be bad or boring. So Smead advocates for what Hopie needs for safety and success, and then stands back to watch, covering her eyes and peeking through her fingers as Hopie takes on the world.
Recently Smead approached her township about putting up a "Blind Child Area" sign at the end of their street. You would think something like that would only take a brief phone call, but alas, not always the truth. After listening to the argument that no sign was needed because drivers should be courteous of all children playing, Smead sweetly (but firmly) pointed out that most all children can run away from an oncoming car because they see it coming. You would think it ended there, but it took several phone calls and several weeks to finally, FINALLY get the township to put up the street sign.
So much effort and work for something so little.
Imagine Smead's surprise when the new sign appeared.
Yeah. Hopie can hear the cars. She just can't see them.
An advocate's job is never done.