Monday, April 8, 2013

In Which He Tried

His face was beginning to twist in pain.

I knew immediately what was wrong.

It was all the people. The noise. It was getting to be too much for my boy with Aspergers.

“Remember to breathe,” I muttered. I waved my hand, trying to get his attention. I was sitting in the bleachers but he couldn’t see me. He stared vacantly ahead. I’m not sure what was going on in his mind.

My boy has never been a sports boy. There are some boys who sign up for football, softball, soccer, etc.

Not mine.

He was never interested.

But he was interested in track. I was surprised that he decided to do it. Surprised and pleased. I knew it would be good for him.

But it wouldn’t come without hiccups.

Such as dealing with his first track meet.

“First call for fifth grade boys for shot put,” an overhead voice said.

To my surprise, I saw my son stand up.



He didn’t tell me what events he’d be participating in. Maybe it was because he wasn’t sure. I did not expect him to do shot put.

It’s…well, he can’t throw very well. Tom used to try to play catch with him and Tommy could barely return the ball. And then he’d start to get frustrated and go, “Everyone else can do this but me!” He’s struggled with his fine motor skills. I was told he had low muscle tone. It was why it took him awhile to even ride a bike.

Shot put.

I couldn’t see him very well because they were off in a corner. From what I did see, he managed to get the heavy ball thingy to a pretty good distance.

I began to relax. He would be okay.

He would…

“Mommy! Lookit!” Natalie hung from the balcony divider.

“Natalie. Stop it! Can’t you just SIT and BE?” I hissed. It was difficult to watch Tommy and pay attention to Natalie as well. With Tom gone, it’s just me. My head would swivel from my boy to my girl. It was like I was watching a tennis match.

“Weeeee!” Natalie dangled from the bar.

“Stop it and sit down. I don’t want to go to the ER!” I snapped. She’s prone to injuries. We’ve been to the ER more times than I care to count.

Natalie gave me a Look. The same Look she’ll probably give me as a teen as she sat down with a loud plop. “Oh-kay but I’m borreeeddd.”

“I’m trying to watch your brother. Oh, there he goes to get ready for the relay,” I said, watching as he strolled over. He didn’t look nervous. His face didn’t look pinched as it did before. He was adapting to the noise.

“I’m hungry,” Natalie complained.

Crap. Snacks. I should have brought snacks. They were selling snacks there but I didn’t want to deal with making sure Natalie didn’t get it all over. So I dug through my purse and handed over an old mint.

“This looks weird,” Natalie whined, fingering it with disgust.

“If you’re really hungry, eat it,” I said with a shrug.

She gave me another Look and started running up and down the bleachers.

“STOP IT and SIT!” I yelled, rubbing my temples. “Come watch your brother.”

“He stinks.”

“He does not. Just sit.”

I watched as Tommy waited at his lane to race. Then the gun went off and he darted forward….and quickly fell behind.

I’d like to say that he passed everyone. That he came in first.

But this isn’t a Hollywood movie. He didn’t.

He was last.

Right as he crossed the finish line, he began wiping his eyes. He was crying. He thought he disappointed his team. He hates disappointing people.

“Mommy!” It was Natalie, dangling off the bar again. “Mommy I need to pee!”

“Not now,” I muttered. I tried to get Tommy’s attention. “You did great, son!” I shouted as loud as I could. “You did great!”

And it was then, as my boy sniffled on the field and my daughter behaved like a spastic monkey that I realized I was alone. My husband would be gone for many months. It just hit me then. Right there. On the bleachers.

I wanted to go to my son. But I wasn’t able to. I wanted to cage Natalie. But that was against the parenting rules.

It turns out my boy was comforted by someone. The girls on the team came to him, rubbing his shoulders, hugging him….the boys, I noticed, stayed away but the girls were there. They’ve always been nicer to Tommy. The boys are at an age where they frown upon crying. But the girls. They get it.

He was okay.

“Mommy.” Natalie tugged on my arm. “I’m bored AND I need to pee.”

Ugh. Sigh.

I led her to the bathrooms and then took her to an area where she could run around. I wasn’t sure if Tommy would be doing another race—but then he was behind me, a tiny smile on his face. He had calmed down.

“Tommy! You did great! Really,” I said, hugging him.

He seemed to agree. “Someone always has to come in last,” he said with a shrug. “I guess that was me.”

“And that’s okay,” I said. “Even people who come in last do great things. Have you ever seen The Mighty Ducks? Rudy?”

Tommy blinked at me.

“We’ll have to watch those. Seriously, great things come from people who come in last. I promise,” I said with a wink. “I know this type of thing is not comfortable for you but you DID it. You tried. That’s important.”

Tommy shrugged. “I guess. Yeah.”

“Tommy!” Natalie shouted, running over. She wrapped her arms around his waist. “You ran fast!”

A tiny smile played on his lips. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess I did…”


  1. Aw! This brought tears to my eyes. But I'm so proud of Tommy!

  2. What a sweet story and so glad those sweet girls were there to comfort him. Good character is always more important than coming in first. Good for Tommy!

  3. Bless his little heart. :-) SO proud of Tommy!

  4. Love! Love Love! Tearing up now. No more words. Just love!

  5. Aww I have tears. I am so proud of him!

    Spastic Monkey. That is what I call my 8 year old lol.

    I know it is hard with hubby being away, I hope the time flies by. In the mean time you are a great Mom and you do a great job!

  6. Way to go, Tommy!!!!! What a huge accomplishment!

    Thinking of you & your family while Tom is gone. I don't know how you do it & I'm grateful for your sacrifice.

    And you CAN'T cage your kids? Crap.

  7. It's about the trying, and try he did, that's awesome!

  8. Yay for Tommy, so glad that he did it! ... better to dismantle my cage ...

  9. Aww! What a great story!!!! So proud of Tommy and so proud of you raising two children without the help of your husband!

  10. He has a great attitude about sports. I love that he tried, and I definitely love that the girls were there for him. That is such a tough age when kids can be so mean, but it is nice to know that kids can be sympathetic.

  11. I'm not a crier, but this had me on the verge. This entire story lifted my spirits and made me (and I'm sure everybody else reading) proud of your son. Hugs on the deployment; we just finished our third and it never gets easier.

  12. awe, this totally made me cry at work! So proud of your Tommy that he went for it :)

  13. That's so sweet - it's great that he had a nice day, even if he did come in last. And it sounds like he's learning a lot in the process :)

  14. I am reminded of a TV movie I saw years ago with Zac Efron in it. He was an autistic with Aspergers... and he ran track. He was fast, very fast... but he always came in last. The problem there was they kept changing the track, the direction... sometimes there were too many turns and twists for his mind to remember. So he would lag behind just to be able to follow and know where to go. It was his confidence that was giving him trouble. His Dad, I think, figured it out and would go out before the track meets to put up signs just for the boy. From that, he went from last to first. He just needed to know exactly where to go each time and to be confident of it.

    Tommy has a great attitude about it though. I love that!

  15. Yay Tommy! I don't even know him, but I'm SO PROUD!!

  16. Way to Go Tommy! He did such a wonderful job getting aclimated to the new situation and all the noise! Way to go Tommy!

  17. You do have your hands full. I do remember those days.

    I remember the struggle of my son with Aspys. Heartbreaking to see them not come in first.

    Hopefully things will settle down in the summer.

  18. Way to go Tommy! First or last, it doesn't matter.

    It really is to bad that you can't change a child.

    Hopefully, better days are coming your way.

  19. This was just an awesome story!! He tried!! That's the best thing ever. I loved it that he had the support that he needed at that moment too especially from his peers...way to go Tommy!!!!

  20. Way to go Tommy! I think he won because he tried something outside of his comfort zone and succeeded!! Good for him! There are a lot of adults that won't do that.

  21. What a beautiful boy! And I was really feeling the story as it unfolded. It didn't help that as I tried to read my own daughter was driving me crazy. I love the ending! What a sweet sister.

  22. My hat's off to you, I don't know if I would keep my cool with Natalie whilst trying to watch Tommy!

  23. This is so sweet. I'm glad he got out there and did it!

  24. Tommy did great, and the girls in his class are so sweet. He's right, someone has to come last. I run races, for fun, and I am always last in my group of friends, and, you know what, it never matters as long as I had a good time. Well done, Tommy!

  25. YAY TOMMY! This made me cry. But I'm so proud of him - he stepped outside of his comfort zone and DID it. That in itself is a major accomplishment.

  26. This is so great! He did so good!

  27. Very touching! True, even in life's race, we can't win all the time. Sometimes, we just may come in last but that doesn't mean we are a loser.

  28. Very touching! True, even in life's race, we can't win all the time. Sometimes, we just may come in last but that doesn't mean we are a loser.

  29. I am so proud of Tommy! The lessons he learns from this experience is so much more important than winning! You're doing a great job while Tom is deployed, and I am so grateful for the sacrifices your family makes for this country. =]

  30. What a wonderful story, thank you so much for sharing. The best part it that he tried and I love his outlook (also want to hug all those girl moms who taught their babies compassion!)

  31. Aw, he did great!

  32. I'm quickly learning that the upside to having the mister deployed is learning who my true and amazing friends are. Sounds like Tommy has a great group of girls to lean on. Hopefully some of the boys come around once they get over the mushy stuff.


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