(For those looking for my post on Baseball 101, check the archives under August 26th.)
I was cleaning out my desk this morning when I found a request for a donation from the Special Olympics. Even though Alex hasn’t attended the games in a few years, I donate whenever I can, just because watching those kids giving everything they have for their sport brings a tear to my eye. I wish I could be that tough.
The other day I was thinking about a friend of mine who has 4 kids, none of whom has a single disability. (I know 2 of her kids from the boys’ day care center, and they’re fantastic; honors program, extremely personable and community-oriented, like their mom. Everyone who knows them thinks the world of them.) I envied her a little; she’ll never have to think about an IEP meeting or making sure her kids are in the best possible school district because some school districts are better than others when it comes to special ed. Around here, all the schools are terrific, I won’t deny that, but not all have an autism support program, so the ones that don’t will farm kids out to neighboring school districts. If Alex had to ride the bus for an hour one way, he’d be one tired dude at the end of the day.
Anyway, part of me is jealous when I think of Shelly and her four perfect kids, but another part of me acknowledges that it takes someone different to raise a child with challenges. (Or children, like my friend Carol; her two both have autism.) I suppose I should feel special that God chose me for this job. Someone once told me He doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and a lot of times I’ve thought He’s seriously overestimated me. But the boys’ challenges have made me someone I wouldn’t have been if I’d had normal, “perfect” kids, and that’s okay. It’s opened my eyes to a world I wouldn’t have otherwise known about, and really, it’s not a bad place. You meet a lot of terrific people, being a parent of a challenged child.
It’s why I feel like I appreciate the Special Olympics oath more than some other parents might. “Lord, let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” (Some versions of the oath take out the religious connection but I kinda like it that way, if that’s okay with you.)