Today I was getting ready to take Tucker on his walk and he noticed the words on the back of my t-shirt. Tucker doesn’t really read, so I read it for him. “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt” ( the Special Olympics Motto) As I finished those words my voice cracked and the tears filled my eyes-We had just finished a busy weekend of Special Olympics ceremonies, swimming competition and celebration. This was his 3rd year of competition, each year has had its own baggage of challenges and each year we inch our way into making it easier for him to deal with the sights and sounds of crowds and confusion with our favorite support tool: Young Living’s Vetiver essential oil; this year was no different except my gut was not in knots, full of fear, of how he would react.
Tucker would be competing in the same 3 events he had competed at in regional competition, but this time competition was in the Olympic sized pool instead of a regular high school swimming pool. My concern was that he does not understand the depth of the pool and this year he would be swimming without the flotation device. Tucker didn’t win a medal in his 25 m swim in the big Olympic sized pool, in fact, he technically would have been disqualified for this event. We aren’t really sure of why he stopped during his 25 m swim, the start was rushed–maybe his goggles weren’t right? Who knows? But one thing we do know, he figured out he could not touch the bottom of this pool as he can in the pool they usually practice in. He stopped and his head bobbed under at one point and this over protective, deeply invested Mamma’s heart sank and we were sure if he was going to make it across without assistance. He swam over to the lane divider and grabbed it for a moment, rubbed his nose and then continued on. The coach signaled one of the other coaches to be ready and the lifeguard watched ready to jump in and I hear a voice in my head saying: “come on Tucker, just keep swimming!” and I cheered and yelled and waved my arms like an insane, overexcited crazy woman as he swam and safely made it to the finish line of the edge of the pool all by himself. This is one of those times where that Special Olympics motto rings SO true and warms a momma’s heart: He WAS Brave!
Tucker is not a fast swimmer yet. He continues to be challenged getting his kick and his arms to actually propel himself forward, but today his win was not about speed, not about style, it was about being brave during a time that could have put him into a panic, he took a deep breath and kept on swimming. Special Olympics continues to teach him many things and offer him ways to grow and this year has proved no less of value as the first two. No, He did not get a gold medal, but sometimes, just as in real life, we learn the greatest things when we don’t come in first. We grow the most when things aren’t the easiest, but when they are the hardest; when we have to pull it all together and push and keep going with all our might, like the little engine who could, despite your fear, despite everything else, you push with your will and you make it to the finish line and THAT, in itself, is the victory. The “gold medal” is the feeling in your heart when your “I think I can, I think I can”……becomes: I DID IT!!!! and….” I thought I could, I knew I could, I knew I would!!