I obviously experience them. They obviously experience them.
But I've always wanted this blog to be a celebration of who they are and what they bring to the corner of the world they were sent to terrorize.
It has recently occurred to me, however, that when I don't share about what brings me to my knees I also miss out on sharing how grace relentlessly and without fail brings me to my feet again.
So, with my apologies for its delay, here is one such story that really demands to be shared...
Two years ago, when LC was four, I decided I was tired of forcing her to participate in classes and therapies that focused on improving her weakest areas.
I wanted LC to have something on our weekly calendar that played to her strengths and was 100% intended to be fun.
I didn't have to brainstorm long. My strong, graceful, coordinated gross motor junkie was going to be in gymnastics.
I called multiple gyms. I asked for recommendations. I did my homework.
I personally spoke with a gym's owner and was assured they had a class that LC would be welcome to participate in.
We signed that girl up. We bought that girl a flashy leotard.
We talked daily about gymnastics and the fun she would have.
And then the day arrived for her first gymnastics class.
I squeezed her into that leotard. Pictures were taken. High fives to Dad were slapped.
And we were off.
We arrived at a gym swarming with tiny bodies in a rainbow of spandex. I was encouraged by the high level of traffic and excitement on the faces of all the tiny gymnasts. I knew LC was going to eat. this. up.
I waded through the bodies to the front desk and explained I was here with LC for her first gymnastics class.
At my introduction, the woman behind the counter's face went blank. She asked me to wait one moment and then came back with the gym's owner.
Shoulder to shoulder in a lobby overflowing with people the owner said, "I'm sorry. I tried calling you. We don't have staff to handle a child like LC. We think a special olympics program would be the best option for her to pursue gymnastics."
Never mind that a Special Olympics program for preschoolers doesn't exist in our area.
They hadn't even SEEN LC yet.
She hadn't taken off her COAT.
And in no uncertain terms, we were being asked to leave.
I took LC and her unused leotard by the hand and we headed home.
(The gymnastics super suit did end up needing laundered. When you're kicked out of your first gymnastics class, hot fudge sundaes are required to aid your mother as she brainstorms a solution.)
I was embarrassed. And angry. And all the other emotions any other mom in my position who sees their kid denied an opportunity based on someone else's lack of information and excess of prejudice would feel.
I didn't write about the experience at the time because I didn't want the blog to be a place to share the sad stuff. I couldn't guarantee that a happy ending was waiting and if it wasn't, then this wasn't a story I was willing to tell.
I considered forgetting the whole thing.
I couldn't. I'd paid too much for that damned gymnastics costume to turn back now.
I considered looking for special needs-specific programming.
But ALL of LC's other weekly engagements were special needs-specific. I needed this activity to not be determined by a diagnosis.
I called one more gym. They had a class with an opening and...after yet another lengthy explanation preparing the staff for the "kind of child" I was enrolling...we leotarded up and headed to gym number two.
We were introduced to LC's teacher, Coach Tyler.
I was certain he couldn't be older than fifteen. I knew she was going to eat him alive. And I didn't even care.
All I wanted was for her to be allowed to sit on a carpet square in a circle of other kids and touch her toes and bounce around for thirty minutes like everyone else.
I did not care if she learned anything.
All I wanted was to not end another evening spot-treating hot fudge out of lycra fabric.
As grace would have it, I was the only one who showed up prejudiced that day.
Coach Tyler turned out to be one of the most naturally gifted early childhood educators I'd ever seen in action.
And I've seen a few.
He wouldn't let LC off the hook for nutty behavior. He wouldn't let her misbehave without consequences and he wouldn't let her out of trying everything...even the hard stuff.
More importantly, Coach Tyler made this happen...
LC will never remember walking out of that first gym, coat still zipped to the top.
LC will absolutely remember how strong, confident and capable Coach Tyler made her feel.
I'm sorry I didn't share LC's happy ending.
It's too good a lesson not to pass on.
Especially since the grace keeps going.
Coach Tyler is going to run in the Chicago marathon the day after LC's birthday.
And, it should come as no surprise that he's using it as an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a non-profit organization that benefits kids just like Pudge.
We'd love for you to visit his fundraising page and let him know that LC sent you. If you can financially support his efforts, I know he'd be grateful. If you could share about it on your other social media sites, that'd be awesome, too.
We'd sure like to see some good come back to that guy.
You have to celebrate the world-changers whenever you get the chance.