Can you think of someone you’ve encounter that makes you think, “Wow, that person is REALLY special; They touched me in a way no one else could.” I can name a few people like that, and today I’d like to tell you about one of them.
I met Eli 7 years ago when I was a freshman in college. One of my friends called me up to tell me he had a babysitting opportunity for me. It would be 5 days a week for a couple of hours a day, babysitting a boy with Down Syndrome. All I would be doing was watching Eli until his mom got home from work. Seemed pretty simple! I was totally game!
I can still remember one of the first times I met him. He held his momma’s hand and was a little shy and timid. He called me “Miss Andi” and would only nod when I asked questions. I was so excited that first day I went to babysit him, and I thought it would be easy peasy. He got off the bus, came into the house, and then my excitement waned just a tad…
That first day Eli was testing my boundaries, to say the least. He may have climbed onto the kitchen counter, chased me around the house, and would not listen to a word I said. Ooooopsies (and P.S.-This is not at all a reflection of his parents because they are AMAZING and FANTASTIC parents). He was simply testing me out…seeing what he could get away with. Not to mention, I was not someone he was comfortable with yet. That evening I called his mom to let her know that I didn’t think I was going to be able to handle this job. But by God’s divine intervention, she didn’t answer my call! So, the next day, I decided I’d give it one more shot. Praise Jesus I did!
That next day we worked things out. I tried to lay down the law a little better, and we started forming a bond. A bond like none I had ever experienced before. You see, Eli loved me NO MATTER WHAT. I could be in a bad mood one day, and he would seriously bring the biggest smile to my face! He always told me funny stories, said the goofiest things, and hugged me until I thought I would bust open! He is strooooong!
I was really heartbroken one day in particular, and I remember him saying, “Miss Andi…it will be okay. I don’t want you to be sad. You the most special girl in the world!” and of course, I felt better. We would DANCE like no one was watching…I even taught him the Hoedown Throwdown dance and the Fifty Nifty United States song. We laughed and cut up all the time. Oh, and we jammed to some Miss Pattycake!
I decided there was way too much joy wrapped in this little boy that I HAD to share it with the world. Eli and I started a “show” called The Eli Show, and even had our own video blog! Check it out here: The Eli Show
To this day he tries to Facetime me often and tells me, “Miss Andi! I have to come on a plane by myself to South Carolina to see you…” His sweet momma and him even came to our baby shower for Liam!
He LOVES Tyler! Probably even more than he loves me!
The 3 Clem’s Facetiming Eli a couple of weeks ago
I often think about I would have missed out on if Eli’s mom answered the phone after the first day I babysat him. I would’ve missed out on millions of laughs, smiles, blessings, and some of my most FAVORITE memories of college. Yes, there were frustrating days, but the good ones far outweigh the bad days. The Lord knew exactly what He was doing when He placed Eli in my life. He’s used Eli to teach me to never judge people from the outside or treat them less than equal because of a “disability” they may have. Few people have brought me as much joy as Eli. I’m different because of him, and I praise Jesus for bringing him into my life!
In a few weeks his momma and I are going to have a Virtual Coffee Date where she talks about what it’s like raising Eli and gives advice for mommas who are raising children with special needs. If you have any questions for her, feel free to comment below!
Who has impacted you for the rest of your life? Who do you think of that’s brought some of the greatest joy to your life? I’d love to hear about those amazing people!