We were watching BattleFrog Races on TV this weekend, and Alex exclaimed that he wanted to do a race like that. That’s a lofty goal, to be sure, but I took him seriously, actually, I might have swooned a bit, but I took his comment to heart. I don’t know if he will actually get to do a BattleFrog race, but consider the goal set, and we’re working toward it, and fully intend to find a fun race and participate with him.
We normally exercise daily, I do my own workout and take Alex for a bike ride, a walk, or out to play frisbee or football, but today we kicked it up a notch and I made him run. He didn’t like it.
It would be so easy to acquiese. He has low muscle tone after all, and loose joints, and running is hard for him. But that’s the point. It’s hard. He wants to do an obstacle race, which will be hard, so he has to train, which is hard.
I made him run, he didn’t like it. I let him walk, he still complained. Then I realized that every runner has to start somewhere, and that usually means intervals of walking.
We walk/ran about 5/6 of the distance and I challenged him to a race home. He stuck his fingers in his ears, taunting me, and took off. He beat me home. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
It seems that one of my biggest challenges as a special needs parent is discerning if my kids are just being normal kids; trying to perceive if the limitations I sense are legitimate or not. So often I find that things I could allow to be barriers for him are simply him trying to get away with less effort than I want from him. If he beat me home, it means he was entirely capable of everything I asked of him.
An entirely normal behavior for any child.
I so often see parents of kids with disabilities working so hard with their young children in early intervention and preschool, just to allow those same children right off the hook as they get older and set in their ways. I, too, have been susceptible to that same tendency, when therapy is done mostly at school and kids get older, I have neglected pushing toward new milestones. Yet as Alex grows up, I am daily more aware of his need for independence, and in order for him to be as independent as possible, he needs to have life experiences. If I let him stay inside his comfort zone, without challenging him to dream big and work hard I am standing in the way of his autonomy and limiting him.
And it’s really hard not to do that.
So we ran, and we’ll run again and again, because independence matters, and this one step in that direction matters.