Thursday, April 7, 2011

Raising an Olympic Champion...

As many of you already know, I am the proud mother of an Olympic Champion. I know, I know, only seven years old and she is shining like a star! She should be on a box of Wheaties for Pete's Sake.

I, of course, am talking about my Tessie Toodles and her stellar performance at last November's Special Olympics.

Her category? Bowling-with assistance

Her placement? First Baby!

That's right. Out of 82 kids, my Toodle Bug placed FIRST out of everyone there. In all categories. I framed her blue ribbon.

Ellie went with us as did Sheila. I was nervous about going because I, in all honesty, could not even begin to imagine how a child who could not even hold a ping pong ball, would possibly be able to throw a bowling ball down a lane...from a wheelchair. I almost didn't have her go. I know, I know. My issues were getting in the way once again of what was really important. But I sucked up my fears of the unknown and went.

It was so much fun!

The energy there was total excitement and happiness. The kids were so proud of themselves. They cheered loud and proud for ALL the athletes no matter what place they took as far as ribbons went. And there was none of that petty nonsense that comes from the adults that you see at so many sporting events. Everyone just wanted everyone else to have fun.

Tessie was the only kid there in a wheelchair and with such severe disabilities so I was filled with anxiety at first. I said to Ellie (who went with us to cheer her little sister on and to help), "I think Tess is the most disabled kid here." Ellie looked around and felt the same way. I'm sure it sounds like we were being shallow or something but it wasn't that. It was an indescribable feeling that you have to experience to understand, I think. Almost as though, even in a place where everyone has a disability of some sort, Tessie was still out of place because hers were so severe in comparison. We just wanted to fit in in a place where we thought fitting in wouldn't even be an issue.

Then, further down the lanes, we saw another, older child in a wheelchair who needed as much help as Tessie. Ellie and I both just looked at each other and were relieved that Tessie did fit right in after all. And I know, she fit in all along and it was our issues and blah blah blah but you just can't help how you feel and Tessie and the situations we sometimes find ourselves in with her come with a whole host of feelings that we just have never had to experience before.

Anyway, I was still trying to figure out how Tessie could realistically participate but they were all over it. I wish I was savvy enough to post photos on here but suffice it to say that we positioned a long piece of wood shaped to hold a ball, against Tessie's lap as she sat in her wheelchair and had her push the ball which would then roll all the way down the lane to the pins.

Ellie helped position the tray and then helped Tessie place her hands on the ball and away it went. It was actually quite hard not to get caught up in the excitement of it all. I found myself cheering and yelling and clapping and laughing as Tessie got spare after spare. It was awesome. Ellie was cheering. Sheila was cheering. Tessie was laughing. And believe it or not, I was totally in my element.

Of course Tessie's high score might have just a little something to do with the precision with which Ellie positioned that wood (and she REALLY wanted Tessie to win) but hey, whatever gets the job done, right?

Tessie did need a bit of a break after a while but then went right back at it.

At the end of the morning's events the ribbons were handed out and everyone got something which is nice in this type of situation. But, at risk of sounding like a real jerk, I want to remind you that Tessie got a ribbon. A blue ribbon. A first place ribbon.

So now we are gearing up for another showing at the Special Olympics. Tess has been entered in the 50 yard dash with assistance (or some sort of race) and the softball throw and will probably be in a few other events. Both Blake and Ellie are coming with us this time to, ahem, help....and cheer.

I am excited for the games and for Tessie to be able to show her stuff.

After all, she is an Olympic Champion...

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