Final day and the clouds threatened rain big time. We were the first ones from the team to show up this morning and I was worried they would cancel. Thankfully they didn’t.
My son’s last event was the 100 meter speed walk and only two boys in their age group were going. The other boy was also from our team. Right off the bat my son broke into a steady rhythmic long stride – the kind I hate to keep up with to be honest. The other boy covered his head with his jacket from the light sprinkle as he walked. His father hollered to him to uncover his head and that’s when he saw my son was getting ahead.
This is where I got upset. The boy reached forward with a clothesline gesture of his arm, a distressed look on his face, saying something to my son I could quite hear. His father was shouting at him not to do that. Too late, my son heard him and broke his stride. Full. Stop. He let the boy walk far ahead of him. I kept shouting to my son to keep walking. Eventually my son started walking again but he didn’t bother with the long strides. He was done. Now he was “Sunday strolling” and looking at the clouds, waving to the people watching him. Completely content with himself and the world around him. At first I was angry. He could have won. He was doing well. I shouted again he could walk fast, that it was okay. He was even with me at that point. He looked right at me then and half shrugged. The other parents around me sort of chuckled at that point. We all knew what he did.
Yea, there is a reason this race bugged me. I felt that he took advantage of my son’s heart in what I believe is my son’s favorite event. That is what makes me angry more than anything. This is the same boy that was really worked up on the Bocce team about winning and kept trying to tell my son how to play. His father kept telling him to back off and let my son do it on his own. So yea, a part of me deep down inside wanted my son to beat him in this race. I’m horrible but that is the truth. But in the end this is who my son is, this is what he always does, and what right do I have to change him? So I just let it go and smiled big for him. And watched him finished. Watched everyone cheer for him. Watched him stand on the tiered platform wearing his silver medal just pleased as punch with himself and beaming with pride. I’m grateful I kept my mouth shut and let these boys have their moment. The Special Olympics is not and never will be about me. So if my son wants to let everyone else win for whatever reasons he may have then I have to accept it regardless of whether I agree with it or not. That’s not for me to decide. It’s a hard lesson to learn – and one I often need to relearn.
I see you my son. I know what you did today. I am proud of your quiet grace. I am proud of your sportsmanship. I am proud of your incredibly big heart. However, I hope someday that you will also come to understand that there are times you need to take a stand and shine for all your worth. I hope to be there when you do.