I will be honest and admit that I was really worried about this day. Jackson, of course, was completely ready and beyond excited about it. We picked out the Powerade’s he wanted to take and his clothes the evening before. In his mind he was going to be able to do everything. It is sometimes hard to imagine how his 7-year-old mind processes things. He has never seen what he can’t do. Only how he CAN do it.
It didn’t take him long to realize just how different this day would be from the two other field days he participated in before. Jackson has always handled his emotions better than even most adults. He processes them slowly and has very little tells to clue you in to what he is thinking. He became quite and put his head in his lap.
As a parent, it is hard to watch. I know what he is feeling. What he is thinking. And I can’t change it. He has been invited to birthday parties that involve physical activity. I hadn’t wanted to face it so we didn’t go. Jackson runs headlong into everything. I was the one scared. I knew eventually we would have to face this. It was inevitable. And when he whispered to me in his low voice, “I wish I could walk”. All I could say is, “Me too baby.”
The first ribbon someone gave him for just participating, the look on his face broke my heart. I know they were trying to help. They were trying to include him and make him feel special. He saw it for what it was. A ribbon he didn’t earn. I was torn between wanting him to succeed in each event in any way possible, and wanting to push him to earn the ribbon himself. After the egg race he put his head down and whispered to me, “I am a bad boy because I cheated.” Even though he was told to hold the egg while someone pushed his chair, he felt like he cheated by doing so.
Finally, he won a ribbon on his own. Of course, he had to participate in a special way, but this ribbon he DESERVED. Despite the fact that he struggled during each race with what he couldn’t do, he still participated in every single one that he was able. This kid doesn’t let anything stop him. Yes, he struggles sometimes accepting what is. But, he still pushes forward, despite it all.
Although my first reaction when he wanted to go into the bouncy house was to worry about how it could be done and how his body would respond, I quickly replied, “Let’s do it!” He had a blast and the smile on his face was worth my now very sore muscles (they need these things in gyms for adults cause it is a definite workout, let me tell ya).
I am very thankful that Jackson goes to a school that allows him to try to do everything he can. For a teacher that pushes him. And for an assistant that loves on him when we aren’t there to do so.
And by the time we were on our way home, he was proud of all the awards he had, even those he didn’t earn himself. As he told his brother Joshua with a huge smile on his face, “They gave me all of these ribbons. It’s the good thing about being paralysized.”
Love and blessings,