Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Winning Weekend

Rob and I have been deemed winners of the Best Subject Matter Award for Laura's Bad Haiku Yuktoberfest.


On behalf of my husband, who is out in 37 degree weather running a 6K, I would like to say thank you to Laura for the award and the kind words. (To answer your thoughts, Laura, dinner with just Rob and myself has the potential to be witty. Dinner with all of us just tends to be loud.)

We are having a pretty great weekend so far, and I hope we can keep it going. We won a Yuktoberfest award, Penn State won (you should hear Sally say We are! Penn State! She does her PopPop proud), and Fiver had his cross country end-of-the-season party at our church last night.

It may shock you to hear this, but I was not one for the team sports when I was a youth. I know, you can hardly believe it, but it's true. I have little experience with teams and team parties and sports banquets, but I'd like to go on record as saying that my son may possibly be on the kindest team in the whole country.

I don't even know how to relate how I felt at the party, except to say that I was verklempt for most of the evening. The coaches, who are so supportive and interested, and the parents made a great evening for the kids.

It was a simple spread of pizza and cake, but the tables and walls were decorated with hundreds of candid shots of all the kids throughout the season. There was also a slide show of all the pictures playing on the wall of the church hall, and Fiver was mesmerized. He just kept saying, "Hey! That's me!" It seemed like he was amazed that people had taken his picture at all.

After we had a chance to eat and socialize, the head coach got up and started to present everyone with a trophy. Now, I am going to admit right here that I am not one of those people who thinks everyone on a team should get a trophy. If you are the star player, sure grab a trophy. If you are not, then maybe next year. I believe the kids will survive with their egos intact.

So I was feeling fairly ambivalent about the trophies, until the coach started giving them out. It became clear that the trophies were secondary to the kind words. The coach made it a point to congratulate those who had excelled, and he pointed out the extra medals and honors they had received. He also made it a point to recognize those children who had drastically improved their times from the first race to the last. It was easy to see that he was not focused solely on the winning, but on the overall improvement of the team.

Then the coach said, "Where is my man, Fiver?!" And the room erupted with applause.

Everyone had been clapping all along, but hearing people call your child's name and cheer him, and knowing that they've been doing it for weeks now, not just one night -- oh heavens, that just made me melt.

Fiver, with his usual narrow focus, walked directly to the stage, shook all the coaches hands, collected his trophy, and came straight back to me. It was only then that his eyes lit up.

He held up his trophy and breathlessly said, "This is for ME! I got one because I'm on the TEAM! I want to put it on the MANTLE! The mantle is the top of the fireplace, Mom. You know. The mantle? There is a RUNNING GUY ON TOP OF MY TROPHY! I think it's ME!"

Well, I just don't know how Christmas morning will ever compare. There will be no living with him now.

After the hubbub of the trophy presentations, we started to pack up and head for the hills. One of the coaches pulled Rob aside to tell him what a great job Fiver had done, and one of the mother's told me it tugged at her heart to watch Rob run with Fiver every week. Then another coach pulled me aside and said something similar. In fact, he told me that we are an inspiration to a lot of people and that we are so good with our kids.

And my first inclination was to laugh. Not out of some false modesty, or because I think we are terrible parents and we have the wool pulled over everyone's eyes. What made me want to laugh was that we see it from a completely different view.

We love our son, so naturally we want to do everything we can to help him get to a point where he can achieve what he wants on his own. To that end, Rob has run every single practice and every single race with Fiver. If Rob wasn't there, Fiver would never have finished and that's the plain truth of it.

What looks like loving devotion on the outside, looks like dogged persistence to us. That's not to say that there isn't a large measure of devotion involved, but there is also a healthy dose of normalcy. This is our normal. This is what we do, and we don't see it as anything else. Maybe because it's all we've ever done with him.

Rob ran with Fiver so he would finish, and so that he wouldn't be a responsibility or a burden to someone else. Maybe that's the wrong way to look at it, but Fiver can be a lot of work and we don't want people to feel saddled with a special needs kid.

I don't really know what I'm trying to say. Maybe it's as simple as the fact that it's hard to see yourself as an inspiration when you feel you are only doing what you should.

The coaches asked if Fiver would be coming back next season, or possibly even for the track team they want to get going in the spring. Considering that he wants to put his team picture and trophy next to his bed, I'd say it's a good bet.


  1. Oh my goodness.
    I am just tingling when I think of him going up and receiving that trophy to thunderous applause.

  2. Anonymous6:36 PM

    I got a bit teary, just now, reading that. He is such a special kid. And you are such great parents! I will talk to Fiver about that trophy next week. Have a good week!

    A quote I read this week..."Persistence can turn a steel beam into a needle".

  3. Hey Chica- I'm with the coach- you 2 and your parenting style are an inspiration. Precisely BECAUSE you don't look at it as anything other than normal.

    I returned to full time work this week, and we're doing some outreach to parents. I'm amazed at how many kids are special needs, and the wide spectrum that the term encompasses! And when we find ourselves dealing with a parent who might be a little more, um, *definite* in what his or her child needs from us... I find myself responding a tad more gently. In part because of your willingness to share your normal family life. So THANKS girlfriend. And keep up the running / cheering!!

  4. Well, now that I have had my daily cry I can move on with things. You wrote so beautifully about the whole experience. Persistence is devotion, Aimee. Too many parents would say it is too much work to be worth it. You and Rob say otherwise. Y'all are wonderful.

    And, seriously, next time you go on vacation, consider Texas. We need to meet. And the area has a lot to offer. Just don't come in July or August or you will melt.

  5. I'm going to stop reading you if you keep making me cry. Stop it.

  6. That was a lovely story, and thank you for sharing it. Good for Fiver!

  7. I am just tearing up reading this right now, it is soooo sweet! There is nothing more incredible than an understanding coach who makes your child feel great about themselves! Congrats to Fiver on completing the season!


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