Tuesday, April 9, 2013

And She Was Runnning....

Of all the activities in the world, of all the sports offered at school, I would have never guessed that Katie would pick track and field.  Katie is the opposite of athletic.  I am not saying this to be mean or condescending, but it is an obvious observation.  Katie doesn't have control over her body like other kids do.  She doesn't hold herself the same, her motions are not the same.  To make a broad description, she is like the proverbial "bull in a china shop".  Not to mention the fact that she is not fast, and probably does not run straight at all.  Needless to say, I was surprised when she came home from school, declaring that she wanted to join the track team.

I obviously had some concerns about her starting this new endevor.  I wasn't sure how the team was run, or who was coaching, or where to send her or when.  I wasn't sure if she would know anyone, or if she would even make it past the first practice.  But I had to let her try.  So the first thing I did was talk to her teacher in school.  I asked her if she thought this was a good idea, and if she knew anyone else going to run track, and for any more information that she could give me.  Her teacher was beyond thrilled, and very eager to help us out with whatever we needed to get her settled.  Next I emailed the track coach, to give him a "heads up" about Katie.  I felt that I should describe her briefly, just to let him know what to expect, and to ask him what we should expect as well.  He was very gracious, welcoming her and describing not only the season, but himself and his qualifications as well.  He told me where to send her and when, and when I went to pick her up the first day, introduced himself to me. 

Now that all the legistics were taken care of, it was down to Katie.  I didn't know if she would even like to run.  I didn't know if she would have the stamina to make it past the first few days of practice.  She has never had a sport or activity that she has done on a consistent basis that was this physically demanding.  When she played soccer with her VIP league, it was only an hour, twice a week, most of which was spent in snack time.  Her bowling league was not physically challenging.  Her latest activity, cheering for our church basketball team, was just for one practice a week, and a game every other week.  I was anxious to see if she was going to stick it out.  I was also hesitant to buy her track t-shirt and hoodie, let alone pay the "pay to play" fee, if she was going to just drop out after a few days.  So I sat her down and told her that she could try it for a week.  There was a parents meeting scheduled at the beginning of the second week.  I said if she still liked it by the parents meeting, then I would order her "uniform", and pay her fee.

Anxious to see how she was doing, I snuck into practice to pick her up and watch her.  It was cold outside, so they were indoors, running the hallways.  Before I knew it, here came Katie, flying down the hallway.  I had packed her sweats and a hoodie, along with her shorts and t-shirt, in case they went outside.  She had all of it on, long hair flying behind her, with the biggest grin on her face.  I was worried that she would stand out, being uncoordinated and on the slower side.  After watching all 80 girls run past, however, she was not the goofiest, nor the slowest, nor the least coordinated girl there.  I don't say that to be mean, I say that to illustrate that all the girls, regardless of their abilities or talents, were welcome to participate.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and my heart swelled with pride and happiness.  Here is my daughter, whom I have worried about and fretted over for a million different reasons, here she is just living her life.  Living her life up big, not letting anything hold her back.  She doesn't care how fast or slow she is.  She just loves being included, being part of something. 

After that first week of practice, she was so tired.  The whole weekend, she was just dragging all over.  I thought that she would want to quit.  I thought she would associate track with working too hard, and being tired.  But she committed to the team, and she is a die hard member. Over spring break, they held practice for anyone who was in town.  I actually tried to talk Katie out of going because it was so cold, but she insisted on going.  Now it is 3 weeks into the season, and their first track meet is today.  Yesterday, they passed out the track t-shirts that we had ordered.  Since they were only $5, I ordered her 2 of them.  I figured if she had meets close together, or I could wear one to a meet.  I knew she would love those t-shirts, and want to wear them all the time.  I told her I was going to wear one, and she said that they were her t-shirts, and she wanted to wear one to bed. 

I cannot wait to see her at her track meet.  I can just picture it.  Katie, sitting with all her track friends.  Some girls she knew from elementary school, some from classes at middle school.  Some friends from church or catechism, or cheerleading.  She will be right in the middle of them all, listening to all them, laughing with them, cheering them on.  And when it comes time for her to run, I know she is going to be so proud of herself.  She is going to have the biggest smile on her face, and she is going to run for the pure joy of being part of a team.  Sometimes her Adventures in Autism have nothing to do with Autism at all.  Sometimes they have everything to do with just being a regular kid.