“I need him to hand me his boarding pass ma’am,” the security agent behind the podium said.
“Wil, here, please just hand her this pass.” Wil turned away from me.
“Is it at all possible for me to hand it to you?” I asked the security agent. “Or answer any questions? I’m not sure if you can tell,” (Wil had his balaclava-style mask on) “but he has Down syndrome. Sometimes he gets stuck.”
“He needs to hand me his boarding pass ma’am.”
“Wil, buddy, you’ll be swimming in Grandma and Grandpa’s pool soon. Here, just hand her this boarding pass and we can go.” Wil didn’t move. “How about we hand her your pass together?” If I pushed further, I knew he’d be on the ground and then we’d have a real problem. I saw the same thought cross Katherine and Elizabeth’s faces.
“Is that the mask he is wearing?” The security agent asked. “Well, he can’t wear that,” she said. “He has to wear one of these.” She handed me a blue surgical-style mask. I understand there are procedures to follow. I also know there is a time for grace.
“His ears are lower set and he has virtually no bridge to his nose,” I said, “so this style of mask isn’t very feasible for him.” I heard the security agent mutter an “oh.”
“We’ve flown with the mask he has on before without issue,” I said. I was starting to sweat. I knew I had a short amount of time before Wil was going to be immovable. Wil’s excitement about our trip to Florida was the cause of his overwhelm (he’s typically easy-going on flights home), so I forced myself to remain calm.
And then grace happened – a security agent tending the line walked over and said to me, “It’s ok, go ahead.” She motioned to a security agent to our far right, who came over and said, “Come with me.” Wil thankfully followed her. As we walked away, I overheard the security agent in line say to the security agent behind the podium, “It’s ok, you were following the rules.”
As we went through the security process, Wil refused to take off his backpack. The security agent told me I could empty the contents of his backpack, and he could walk through the scanner with it on. Wil felt the release of resistance, and he soon released his. We made it through the rest of the security process with few further hesitations. I gave the security agent a gratuitous thank you.
At the gate, I made sure Wil didn’t sit down until we boarded the plane. I wasn’t about to lose our forward momentum! Once on the plane, Katherine, Elizabeth and Wil sat three-in-row; I sat directly across the aisle. The man seated next to me bumped my elbow to get my attention. He wore the same balaclava-style mask as Wil; I wondered if he was given issue for that. He lifted up his phone to show me a photo of a young girl with a bright smile and light-brown hair. She had Down syndrome. “She’s my niece,” he said. “She’s eight, the same age as my son. I love her like my daughter.”
“She’s beautiful,” I said.
“I know how it is,” he said, “some may not understand our blessings.”
“Yes, for some it just takes more time to get there…”