There’s this strange argument I used to have with myself and I’ve always wondered if other parents did the same. As the mom of a special needs child, I looked for every opportunity for her to be with her “peers.” I wanted her to be treated like them. I wanted her to be included in gym and art and to never ever ever have to sit alone in a cafeteria.
So if I wanted all these things was it fair for me to ask for special treatment in order for her to be included? If I wanted her to be just like the rest of the class should she have to do things just like the rest of the class? As I became a
worn down seasoned advocate I learned the answer to this question.
It was the work she put in, not the results she achieved, that made her worthy. We might have been learning the alphabet while the other kids were writing it but she was going to get the same sticker on her paper and a star on her chart. She was trying just as hard.
On Friday, as her bus left for the Special Olympics state championship, she sent me a message to let me know they were receiving a police escort. For a moment I panicked and then I was overcome with emotion.
Years of hoping she would love herself the way I do triggered the ugly cry, the trying not to scare the small children, ugly cry. The fact that she felt special, that she knew she was special, after the odds have been against her for roughly 75% of her entire life was overwhelming.
We picked up prescriptions last night and our favorite pharmacy tech announced to anyone within earshot that Ashlyn and her team were silver medalists. On our way home we stopped to pick up dinner. The man at the counter, noticing her warm up suit and medal, started singing “We Are the Champions.” Ashlyn beamed and carried her medal even though it dangled safely from her neck.
I’ve posted updates and photos to Instagram and Facebook and maybe you’re all just blocking me out by now but I can’t help it. I’m overwhelmed by the whole thing. That same pharmacy tech has rushed us through past purchases, noticing the signs that Ashlyn is out of coping mechanisms. We’ve left restaurants with my face a deep shade of purple when her aggression has cancelled out our dinner plans.
It’s been a walking-on-a-cloud sort of weekend for both of us. She deserves all of this. The police escort, the fan fair at the pharmacy counter, the cheering gym at her award ceremony. I’m happy to walk behind her as she hopes others notice her accomplishment and watch her glasses lift from her smile as they do.
She’s a bit of a rockstar right now and she’s fairly good at it. She’s been rehearsing the role for years.
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