I never in my wildest dreams ever imagined that I would sign Bridget up for a team sport. We tried a Special Olympic basketball clinic. It was horrible. Bridget would not participate. She would kick the ball rather than try to make a hoop. She ran away and was, to be frank, that pain in the neck kid who was ruining it for everyone else.
Being the Special Olympics they would never say that statement out loud. But I was sure thinking it! Yes, I am Bridget’s biggest cheerleader. I am also her strongest critic when I think she should be able to do something and she refuses to conform.
After all, she does gym. As far as I have been told she complies and enjoys playing the sports with her classmates. One of the high school teens that was volunteering turned the basketball game into a soccer game. He joked he enjoys soccer more anyway. The day was saved and she did enjoy herself. But I couldn’t help but think:
Why oh why can’t she just play the game as it was designed?
The teenager suggested that I put her into soccer. She seemed to really enjoy it.
I called the YMCA where Bridget does adaptive swim. Do they have an adaptive sports program? The answer was, no but why don’t you sign her up for our soccer program? I explained about her intellectual disability and my fear that it would be too much for the coach.
They were flabbergasted: Mrs. Ames, she replied, the YMCA prides itself on inclusion and making all kids reach their potential. It doesn’t matter to us if Bridget doesn’t act like the other children. It only matters that she have fun.
Um, wow. Seriously wow.
We signed her up. We took her to her first “practice”. She did her Bridget thing, she ran and kicked the ball. On her time table, not the coaches or her teammates. She was vocal, cheering the kids. She told one boy “good job”. She tried to kick a goal (on her own team not the opposition).
The most important thing: SHE HAD FUN!
I do feel bad for the other “typical” parents. The ones that signed their child up for a sport thinking that they would be the next Mia Hamm or David Beckham. I’m determined not to care or be embarrassed. I will be there every Saturday morning to cheer her on when she kicks the ball and chuckle when she blows on it because she thinks it is broken. I know I’m not raising a soccer player or maybe even a team player. I’m raising a girl who enjoys the moment without a thought to anything more than that moment.
My girl played soccer on a team and told me she “had fun with friends”.
Look out Mia Hamm.