Monday, October 12, 2009

What's for lunch?

This past weekend Alex was scheduled to compete in his first Special Olympics sporting event. Initially, we had mixed feelings about this, but it was bowling. How difficult could that be, right? He had practiced with the school team, hadn't hit very many pins during any of the practices, but that isn't really the focus now is it?

He went to the first practice, not really knowing anyone except the coach. He adjusted to that just fine, despite his severe social anxiety. Alex was able to ignore the loud noises and stinky atmosphere, an adult league was going on at the same time as practice. He has exceptionally sensitive hearing and despite all the chaos surrounding his lanes, he was able to socialize and actually make friends. Alex didn't need or even want his mom or dad near him to protect him.

This was fantastic! We had just witnessed a major breakthrough in his life! What a high for us!

But as we all know, a high is just a bleep on the radar before a low. Somehow, we always forget that, though. Needless, to say, we forgot! I think it was one of our desperate attempts to be a normal family. None of my friends' kids have trouble going bowling, it's no big deal. Funny, nothing about us is normal, why do we try to pretend, if even for a minute?

Well, here it is Saturday, time for the tournament. Alex was so proud to put on his team shirt, he'd even worn it to school the day before to show it off! We pull into the parking lot, registered at the desk and headed to his lane. Or... maybe not! There he stood, frozen in fear, tears in his eyes, a look we had never seen before. He could not move. What do we do?

Everything had been going so well. We hadn't prepared for this, not that we could have. Anyhow, we spent the next twenty minutes trying to convince him to cross through the crowd of adult spectators, get to the bowling lanes packed full of kids and their coaches and for what? To show us that he could do it? I realize now, that he could not have possibly heard anything that we were saying.

I looked up and saw tears in his Dad's eyes too. Alright, this is too much for all of us, time to go. I saved my tears for later. What happened? Had we failed? It took all weekend, but finally, I decided, right or wrong, that we hadn't failed. We'd already succeeded by giving Alex the opportunity to try it! I hate that we put him in a position that made him feel so miserable, but fortunately, I am fairly confident that he won't remember that part. Once we left the bowling alley, Alex's only concern was, "What's for lunch?" All was well!

What I didn't know is that there were other people sharing our pain and praying for us that day. Alex's teacher and aide at school weren't able to make it to the bowling alley that day, but they were keeping up on the day's happenings through another person. For the first time since Alex has been in school, these two were going through the same emotions as we were. One told me she teared up when she heard he couldn't do it, the other said a special prayer for us. Any parent who has a special needs child knows how much this means to a parent. These people GET it. They share our hopes and dreams and love for Alex.

When we got to school this morning, they were terribly concerned about Alex's emotional state after the bowling tournament. After I told them the story, they realized, as we had, that everything would be fine. "What's for lunch?" was a dead giveaway! Maybe basketball will be better!

By the way, when Alex asked, "What's for lunch?", it was 8:15AM ! Yes, all will be fine....

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