Full Speed had a respectable seventh place finish out of thirty-seven at his school’s bee. The difference between him participating as a fifth grader and now is unbelievable. He used to be the smallest, now he is among the tallest. His voice, the depth of which I found unsettling, held steady as he spouted off each letter.
I no longer saw a boy on that stage. In his place stood a confident young man.
Leading up to the competition, T.Puzzle and I continued a lively debate. He believes a person is awesome only if they are winning. I still hold that awesomeness is static. Sometimes that expresses as external achievement, but mostly it is comprised of intangibles. I do not fault T.Puzzle for his perspective. Our culture exalts individual, external success. Winning makes sense to him. I get that.
Maybe Full Speed did not technically win the spelling bee, but from my view he demonstrated what it means to succeed. He had the nerve to get up on that stage and compete with all eyes of the auditorium zeroed in on him.
I couldn’t do that.
I probably wouldn’t even be able to spell my name right in that situation.
When it was all said and done, he bounced back quickly. He did not entertain the notion that misspelling a word defines him a person.
I was beyond confused. While my eyes were seeing Full Speed line up with his teammates near the high jump area, my mind could not comprehend it. It was like if you were at my house and I walked down my stairs wearing a Cardinals jersey. It would make absolutely no sense. If you were a Cubs fan, and odds are if I let you in my home, you were,… well, at the least you would be anything but a Cardinals fan…, first you would feel confusion, then as it sunk in, you would feel angry and upset.
That’s exactly how I felt: confused, angry, upset
First of all, Full Speed up to this point in all of his entire life, had never even attempted to execute a high jump. Secondly, he barely cleared the waist of one of his man-sized teammates. I wish I was exaggerating for effect, but sadly, I am not. This kid towered over Full Speed. He looked like a line-backer while Full Speed looked like a scrawny equipment manager (albeit a highly adorable one).
Thankfully, the high jump took place well off the main area. Most of the crowd was focused on the excitement of the relays that circled before us. The bad news is, Full Speed’s high jump attempts played out exactly as you might imagine.
For his ‘warm-up’ jump he actually went under bar. Yes, you read that right….under. For his remaining three attempts he managed to at least level himself out with the bar to a degree, mainly shouldering the bar and launching it off the two poles that held it up. There was no grace to be found in these movements, mostly it looked like he was being electrocuted as his arms flailed around helplessly. I have to give him props for consistency, I mean he demolished that bar every single time. I also appreciated the polite way he helped replace the bar to its proper positioning for the next kid in line.
This was a parenting moment that I had to go big picture. This is where what you see before you is so off-kilter, you just shrug your shoulders and say, ‘no big deal’. This is just a blip on the road of life and let it go. I secretly held on to hope that he might get a chance to compete in another event. One hopefully, that required his feet to stay planted on the ground.
Shortly after, the ominous clouds that had been gathering decided they were done with this particular track meet. Within moments, rain was pummeling its way through the crowd and we all scattered like ants to safety. I was separated from Full Speed for a bit while the fate of the track meet was determined. Eventually, as mother nature continued on with her very bad mood, the meet was called and I caught up with him.
Once we were back at the car away from the noisy rain, I asked him point-blank, “Why on earth did they ask you do to the high jump?”
“I volunteered,” he replied.
Turns out, four members of his team were no-shows and there were lots of gaps needing to be filled. As his coach had run through the litany of events that needed a fill-in, Full Speed volunteered for every single one.
He was denied on all counts.
That is until the high jump was called out. No one was willing to step up so what did Full Speed do?
He stepped up.
Can you imagine the amount of courage this must have taken? Since Full Speed has a pretty good hold on reality, he had to have known it was going to end badly for him.
He did it anyway.
This kid may have lost the high jump that day, but he won my respect.
He has all it takes to be a winner. The kind that matters. The kind that isn’t afraid to take risks.
Little T.Puzzle’s lens removal went smoothly. His recovery, not so much. He is younger then when his big brother went through this process and therefore it is harder for him to comprehend why he has to wear that pesky eye shield. He’s really mad, too, because his glasses won’t fit over it. I think he is experiencing more pain as well. He had more stray ‘strands’ surrounding the lense that had to be removed. The good news is that the lens removal may help center his pupils. They are slightly off-center due to his ectopia lentis.
He is a trooper and I know tomorrow will be so much better.
Our day was a success. Full Speed had his best eye test to date and little T.Puzzle has the greenlight for his lens removal surgery for his left eye.
I also uncovered the secret to getting exceptional behavior from little T.Puzzle. Simply send his big brother to spend the night over at Grandma’s. Little T.Puzzle is relishing the spotlight without his brother’s extremely strong presence to shift my focus. Of course I am being overly attentive to his every move, need and breath. I guess that’s what a pending surgery for your youngest kid will do to a mom.
I have a good feeling about it all. Then again, having seen his big brother attain 20/40 vision in his stronger eye (20/50 in his other eye!) when he was initially considered legally blind, I know anything is possible.
Possibilities are what will get us through this. For that I am certain.