When Finn was little, he could throw a ball with amazing accuracy. He used to run around the house (on his toes) yelling, “Get the ball. Get the ball. Get the ball.” We thought, for sure, he would have natural athletic talent like his, ahem, mother. Then, Finn revealed himself to us. Years of bribing Finn to go to Charlie’s games only to drag him away kicking and screaming because he was overstimulated. Long before Finn’s diagnosis, we had abandoned our original expectation that Finn would one day play organized sports.
And then today happened!
We signed Finn up for an adaptive special needs soccer league in our township. I can’t even believe it exists, but I am so glad it does! I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but I had a pretty good hunch. Finn would walk onto the field. He would see all the kids. He would drop to the ground. We would go home.
And then today happened!
We got to the field. Finn waited patiently in line. He saw other kids from school. He waited patiently in line. We got his jersey. He didn’t care what color it was. Wait. Who is this kid? We met the program founder, who I emailed the night prior to give him a head’s up about Finn, he and his wife were AMAZING and this was clearly not their first time at the dance. He ever-so-gently encouraged Finn to play with his “buddies” (two adorable high school girls who fawned over Finn’s every move!) and before we knew it, Finn was kicking a ball! Did you hear what I said? Finn kicked a ball! I know that to most typical parents, kicking a ball is not a big deal, but we are anything but typical over here. The amount of balance and motor planning it took for Finn to swing his leg back and kick a ball (and not fall over) is amazing! Not to mention, even more amazing, that he did it on a field with a bunch of other kids and their buddies running around!
At one point, he ran off the field just to hug me and said, “I’m having a great game, Mommy!” I was bawling. As I am sure were most parents there today. Because what we saw today wasn’t a soccer game. It was a chance for our kids to do something that most other kids and their parents take for granted. The chance to participate. The chance to wear a team jersey. The chance to be cheered for. The chance to belong.
Joe and I walked off that field today like we were David Beckham’s parents! Some kids’ parents are disappointed when their kids don’t score a goal. We were overjoyed that he played the game!
Finn (and Challenger Sports) showed us today that the impossible is possible if you just change your lens. I couldn’t be more proud of what my kid accomplished on the field today and it had absolutely nothing to do with sports.