I am sick. And while I know this is not about me, it is, sorta', since I had to drive him there, and then to school. We were asked a few weeks ago by one of Charlie's gymnastics coaches to speak at a board meeting at the YMCA. Well, at first, it was more like this-
Coach- Hey! I was wondering if you might allow Charlie to come in early one morning to speak at a board meeting, here at the YMCA. He would have to come in at 7:30 AM, and it wouldn't take more than a few minutes to share his story of how the YMCA has made a difference in his life. And, the person I had asked to do this---- died.
Me- Clearly, that sucks for her. However, win-win, because I am sure Charlie would love to speak in front of a 30 person board meeting. (Thinking to myself, "Not so much." The kid can barely talk, and now you are asking him to speak in front of 30 adults he has never met?)
So, I asked him, and he was honestly excited. I told him I would not have him memorize anything. I would just ask him some questions about his experiences at the YMCA, and any answer he gives, would be the right answer. Score. Well, I got very sick over the weekend, and yesterday, I felt like death warmed over. I typed something I planned to email to the coaches to read on our behalf, since I couldn't stand up for longer than 3 minutes without passing out. This morning, the sore throat mostly gone, but the cough worse, and a really painful bout of abdominal pain, along with an incredibly foggy head, I showered, and drying my hair felt like an aerobic activity. I was pooped. At one point, I told Geoff he should just drop off the typed, prepared speech I was going to send yesterday. Well, I thought about the impact of having Charlie there. I mean, first, it's an amazing opportunity for him to share his growing confidence, second, I can not ever repay the YMCA, the coaches, the staff, for all that they have done for our entire family. We have developed friendships, began leading a healthier lifestyle, and have a wonderful time, as a family, in a place that supports us, and makes us feel better for having gone, each time we walk out the doors. So, I mustered the strength, pulled up my big girl panties, and off we went.
We walked in a few minutes early, caught up with the coach that invited us, and Charlie was excited. I could tell. He doesn't act this way everywhere, or for just anyone. He acted like he knew he was important, and he seems to act this way every time we walk through those doors. What a gift. Could you imagine? Being able to hug a kid and make him feel like he is something special. I am his mom. And I can not continuously produce that effect. We walked upstairs, and his other coach joins us. She has the same effect on him. He goes running for some love, and then starts chit chatting a bit. I don't know that either coach was fully aware of his multiple diagnosis, specifically, the sensory integration dysfunction, as well as the obvious apraxia. I am always happy to share this information with those around us. I love to educate, but honestly, my head was foggy, and I am not sure of what I said. I might have said something to the effect that I have watched a Netflix marathon of "Everybody Loves Raymond" for the past 24 hours. Hopefully, I mentioned the challenges.
My stomach was killing me, and I was suppressing a hacking cough, and ready to be back here in bed, and finally, it was time to have Charlie tell his story. I have no qualms about public speaking, but I literally looked like I had just rolled out of bed, and that was after I nearly passed out to dry my hair for the event. I was concerned about Charlie, but tried to share my own comfort level with him, seeing as, I didn't have anything but gratitude and thanks to share with these people. I was given very little to go by as far as how long to speak, or what format to do it in. The less direction, the better, seeing as I had a two page typed speech that I knew I could not comfortably read. I preferred to just read a few questions for him to answer, and when I did the night before, he did fine. We talked about different things over the past few weeks, and honestly, he did great.
He shared his experiences with swim lessons, swim team, and most recently, gymnastics. He modeled his socks he loves that he won at Bingo Night there, and at the end, I allowed him to show off some of his gymnastics skills. I know that the YMCA is not the thing for everyone, but it is the thing for us. It has given us not only the opportunity to swim year round, exercise any time of day, trip on our feet during Zumba, and to allow our children to participate in age appropriate classes where they can build confidence, and develop areas of their lives that challenge each of them.