This was an interesting sign at the swimming pool about handling sensitive gender issues with children.
The sign tells parents of "opposite gender children," over age 5, not to take them in the locker room with them.
Instead they are told to use a separate locker room for "special needs."
Then underneath, in the lower right corner, someone wrote in pen (it's light, so you may not be able to read it), "Ok, but then enforce handicapped changing room!!"
Having an accident recently and being on crutches and then a cane, I myself have developed a whole new awareness for how difficult the mundane can be.
When I asked the doctor, why so-and-so happened to me, he said, "you're not getting any younger!"
It was really a wake up call for me.
We don't always think of all the various special needs out there: people with handicaps, illnesses, and injuries of all sorts (physical, emotional, etc.), issues related to aging, single parents, orphaned children, people taking care of young children and/or aging parents, people newly divorced or bereaving, people out of work or "simply" changing careers or perhaps moving or even immigrating, and many more.
There are so many situations which can create special needs for people.
Often at work, I see announcements for groups that help people undergoing various life changes--creating these special needs. I glance at the information about the group meetings, but usually don't have or take the time to fully stop and really think about what these all mean for people and how it impacts them--both their personal lives and their professional ones.
Seeing the signage reminding people to use special locker rooms when they need to deal discretely with children of the opposite sex or for changing rooms for those with disabilities...it was just another jolt for me to think of others and help them whenever possible.
Sometimes when I see someone who is old or disabled going slowly down the street, I think to myself--even though I may be in hurry--that I should slow down and not pass them quickly, so as not to make them feel bad--and now when I broke my ankle, I realized it was my turn and had to go slow.
Everyone goes through times when they have special needs.
The key is when we aren't special needs for a moment in time that we remember how fortunate we are and that everything is temporary--both good and bad.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)