We reached a very special milestone (for me, anyway) last week. Ever since the day my son was born, I've had people remind me, "Well, at least one day he will get to participate in the Special Olympics." Which, when presented in this way, gave me more anticipation than relief.
So when he finally reached the age to participate, I was both nervous and excited. It was a track and field event--something he isn't really familiar with--but we knew he would have fun racing, throwing and jumping. The other boys made him posters, which he loved because his name is by far his favorite word. Then we unloaded at the track, on what had to be the coldest, windiest Spring day in the history of Texas. But don't worry--the sun broke through the clouds later that afternoon (about one hour after the event had ended).
The boys and I waited at the finish line with the camera and signs, and cheered him on as he ran his race. He was in second place up until the very end, and then he just stopped short. After persuading him to continue, he ran right past the finish line and kept on going. Next time, I will make sure he is adequately "trained" for his events!
Now that it is over, I found I do have a great feeling of relief. Relief that I made it, relief that it was a bigger deal in my mind than in real life. But it is still bittersweet. Seeing all of those smiling faces, excited kids, helpful volunteers and cheering fans--and knowing that for many of these kids, this type of excitement will only come once a year. It is my prayer that these kids have a supportive cheering section at school, at home, in life in general. I pray that they know love, support and kindness all year round.
I am more excited that my younger three had the opportunity to experience the Special Olympics. I've already planted the seeds of how exciting it will be when they are old enough to volunteer. I want them to be a part of the world where people with disabilities are included in all activities and events. I envy the fact that their paradigm never changed--they were born into a world where differences are accepted and supported in an authentic way, because they were born with such a special sibling. They will choose true acceptance over PC tolerance because that is what they know. Maybe one day, they will change the world around them with their views and experiences. But in the meantime, they all had fun.
And isn't that what it's all about, anyway?