For the past few years, Eddie has been invited to attend an event called the “VI Games” at our state’s school for the blind. At this annual event, activities are planned for children with visual impairments from the ages of 3 to 21. Kids are broken up by age group, and then participate in multiple events including gymnastics, swimming, bowling, and track and field.
In the past, when the invitation arrived I always declined to go. I thought that because Eddie wasn’t walking independently yet, and because he may not fully understand the event, it would be easier to stay home. I imagined all the other children fully participating and enjoying themselves and thought it might be hard for me to get in the spirit while struggling to physically assist Eddie through the events.
This year, with encouragement from the school, I took Eddie to the games. I have to say that overall it was a great experience. Admittedly, we did get off to a rocky start. Eddie wasn’t impressed with some music being played and the loud applause in the gymnasium was a bit much. The first few events I had to help him participate while he was also covering his ears and intermittently crying.
Even though I was fighting back a few tears because he was struggling with the noise, Eddie ended up grinning and enjoying the movement and even the attention. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stand up straight at the end of the day, but his smile was making it worth all the effort. Hysterically, a younger child followed me around all day telling me to, “Leave him alone!” I suppose it may have looked like I was torturing him more than helping him.
Once we got into the swing of the day, we were both having fun. I had to approach this with a good attitude and the knowledge that I would be fully participating as well. Giving myself a pep talk before the day began really helped me to not compare him to others, but to enjoy the abilities he does have. I also decided that my number one goal would be his enjoyment, and some of my “pushing” had to be set aside. This day I would simply be his mom.
I am so glad that I decided to give it a shot. When Eddie received his ribbons and award, the crowd cheered his name, and I could tell that he gained a lot from that day. Even though it wasn’t all easy, he was able to participate with his peers in multiple games and take away the thought that he, too, can get out there and have a good time. Personally, I was able to set emotions aside and be a part of this great community. I even have the minor back pains to prove it.