Kari Wagner-Peck thinks the real moments of inclusion are when kids treat her son just like any other kid in a ruthless game of dodgeball.
Our house had trophies everywhere – including the closets. This was during the years where you didn’t get trophies for participating. You had to earn them.
My dad was a volunteer coach on and off for about forty years. He worshiped our home state idol (God, really) and coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vincent Lombardi – “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”.
Every sport he tried to teach me ended in tears (by both of us) and the tipping point was always “You throw/run/hit/jump like a girl!” The civil rights law Title IX was created for guys like him.
He was a ruthless kind and while he did end up redeeming himself he could be, in his words, “a class A prick.” He is in heaven right now or that place people go who live righteous kick ass lives and smiling down at me thinking, “Yea, I was a kind of a prick. Thanks for thinking of me, kid!”
I never saw the value of competition in life then as he would have liked. I do now. If competition makes you strive harder to be better it is a worthy pursuit I think.
I refuse to be grateful for people who are seen as going out of their way to help some kid with Down syndrome. Or the news media who churns out this feel good crap. I don’t want to have to count on maybe my kid gets included. I want it written in stone someplace he is included. That’s the story I am looking to read.
Our son goes to the city’s recreation program after school. When he plays with the girls they inevitably try to teach him something — coloring in the lines or how to read the moods of those of the female persuasion, they hug him and all around baby him. I find even little guys don’t like that kind of thing.
I had the occasion to see him with a group of boys in the gym one afternoon. They were playing that old (painful) perennial dodge ball. Our kid is literally the smallest kid in the school. Often he is mistaken for a four-year-old impostering as a elementary school student. His is in a word – Lilliputian. Yea, and he has Down syndrome. How inspiring is that?
You would not have known it though in how he was being treated by the twenty-some boys ranging in age from five to nine and two adult men in the room. You don’t know inclusion for your son who has Down syndrome until you see a fourth grader throw a ball with such force at your kid who is running his ass off only to be thrown off his feet a couple inches in the air. Our son then did what all the other kids did that got smacked. He picked himself up and got back in the game. In fact, he got game.
As my dad got older he came to realize winning was still good but the love of the game was better. That does not however mean if my father was still alive today he would cut our son slack because he had Down syndrome. He would be eff’ing ruthless, because that’s how he treated all his kids.
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