Tuesday, April 28, 2009

the 200

My son Patrick ran in a race today.

My wife and I had been taking him to "track practices" for several weeks, actually. He'd line up for whatever event it was, engage in some type of cross between walking and jogging, and eventually cross the finish line. He seemed a bit bemused by it all, actually.

I should clarify that I wasn't personally able to make it to the big finale event tonight, so my report of the events is based on my wife's recollection.

Anyway, she decided to have him run in the 200 yard dash. And so he lined up, the race began, and by the time the other kids had crossed the finish line, he had gone about 10 yards.

From what I gather, he seemed in no particular hurry after this, and kept his typical pace in progressing down the track. Eventually some adult monitor of the race went out to meet him and encourage a slightly faster pace. The crowd cheered.

I must admit that I have mixed reactions to the event. I'm delighted that the crowd was so generous in its attitude towards my son. But I'm also pained by his struggles, by his delayed motor coordination, by the sense of aloneness and confusion he felt (or at least that I imagine him feeling).

It's a reminder, I suppose, that life will pose challenges to him that I can't fully prepare him for. It's a painful reminder of how far he lags behind his peers despite the progress we've seen in him.

In some ways, I guess, the race is symbolic of where he's at right now. Ten yards of progress when other kids his age have made 200.

Yet I have so much pride in him for those ten yards. What comes naturally to other children does not always come natural to Patrick. His gains are the product of concerted effort and challenge and struggle, not byproducts of just doing what comes naturally to him.

And so now when I think about those ten yards...and the other 190 he ran after all the other kids were resting, I like to consider this: he earned them.

1 comment:

Sarah S-D said...

i wonder how often parents have moments like this, such mixed feelings, and how much, perhaps, they would be intensified by having a child with special needs.

this is a lovely reflection, steve.