Drop the Mic!
Posted Feb 19, 2015 by Jacquie Robison
The air in the house that morning was electric. Sofia was invited to her friend’s fourth birthday party and it was being celebrated at a local gymnastics studio. Some of the other children in her preschool class took lessons there, so she had heard all about the tumbling and jumping and trampoline diving. The realization that she was going to have those same adventures was nearly overwhelming for her little self. Her smile broke open from ear-to-ear between bites of breakfast.
“Mom, I’m going to do gymnastics!”
Her enthusiasm is one of the most incredible joys about her. My husband and I do our best to encourage her to try everything. It’s a constant theme in our home…a refrain that thrums along in the background of the everyday. “Just try your best, Sofia. Give it a shot and we can keep working on it. You have to let your body know you believe in it. Just like we believe in you.” But, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. For her, or for us. It hurts to see your child struggle with things that are so easy for their peers. You worry about whether they will be included and what participation will look like. You worry about them actually, physically, being left behind. Unable to keep up with the others as they skip and run and jump around. You wonder if you should wait until they’re a little stronger. A little bigger. But, we had agreed since her diagnosis that it was most important to expose her to as much and as many things as possible. We didn’t want to shelter her. She has a light that needs to shine, just like everyone else. And we had to trust that she was hearing the messages we were giving her and was internalizing them. You look for those moments when you get a glimpse into how your children are putting things together for themselves.
On this particular day, my fabulous friend Amy came along with us. Having an extra set of hands marches headlong into “this is pure joy and thrilling and I may even have a chance to say hi to other parents and hang out a little” territory. I had talked to the staff ahead of time and they were aware that Sofia needed assistance and they ok’d leaving her shoes on so she could wear her orthotics. Amy and I were permitted in the play area to help her out with some of the fun.
When the time arrived to join in, Sofia was nervous. She whispered softly, “This looks hard, mom. I don’t know if I can do it.” I knelt down and took a look at the whole scene; kids running and tripping over themselves — popping back up and giggling away. I nodded and said, “It does look a little tough, but I say give it a try. If it doesn’t work out the first time, we’ll just try again. What do you think?” She grinned and grabbed my hand to step over and join in.
An obstacle course of sorts had been set up for the children to move through and there was lots of screeching and laughter as kids swung on rings, jumped across mats and somersaulted to the end. Sofia and I started to work our way through and the kids had lapped us and were lining up to go again. A voice called out, “Oh man, Sofia is so slow.” I felt my heart squeeze in my chest. This was just kids being kids. I knew that. But, in a flash, a staggering number of thoughts rushed through my head, including the familiar worry. It flared and taunted with the decision I had made to bring Sofia to the party, teasing me with its snickering ‘see what happened? you shouldn’t have brought her. this is going to be terrible for her. what were you thinking?’ Beside me, Sofia just looked over her shoulder and replied, “well, I’m faster today than I was yesterday.”
BOOM. DROP THE MIC.
There it was. My little gift of the day. The other child smiled back and said, “cool…keep going, Sofia.”
Yes, keep going, Sofia.