Oscar's first day of Little League practice was Thursday. He's playing Single A, on a team with typical kids a year or so younger. We're just a tad nervous...he can't catch, his throws come with a lot of effort and not too much accuracy or speed. His timing on hitting is waaay off. He's been know to argue or cry when he is out. And last year, in t-ball, he spent a good portion of every game crouched down by second base playing in the dirt. He rarely saw a ball coming his way, and I'm surprised one never hit him. So yes, we're nervous.
I tried to switch Oscar to the Challenger league -- to the baseball team for kids ages 5-19 with all types of disabilities. I thought it would be a better match. But he was adamant -- his heart was set on Single A. He wants to play on the same fields as his brother, as his friends. He's been sitting in the stands, watching, for years, and now he wants his turn and it has to be the full Albany Little League experience. He is clear.
For the first time ever I tried to talk Oscar out of something because it might be too challenging. Usually if he wants to do something I jump aboard and figure out a way to support him. This time, though, I told him frankly that he'd have to really listen to his coaches, that he couldn't argue the calls, that he couldn't "opt out" of activities, that he'd have to practice, that he'd have to be a good teammate, and that he might not always get on base. I didn't tell him he couldn't play Single A, but I felt like I had to be honest and let him know this one could be a real challenge.
We don't talk about his disability too much. We talk about abilities and strengths. And of course we all have things we are working on. I don't ever say "You can't because you have Prader-Willi syndrome". But I sort of did say that when I told him all the hard parts about playing Single A, didn't I?
When I was done, he looked me straight in the eye with more resolve and wisdom than I'd ever dreamed he'd have and said:
"Mom, I'm up for it. I can do it, I know I can."
He understood my concern, and was telling me that he was going to work past his disability on this one. I was so proud of his fighting spirit...that flame we've seen burning in there since birth. Of course I said yes.
Still, I was sort of jittery and nervous on Thursday. Paul stayed down at the field with him "to facilitate". When I left, the kids were all lined up playing catch with a partner. Oscar's partner was one of the coaches and Oscar wasn't catching any of the tosses. I didn't care about that...I was just so proud of how hard he was trying.
One of the coaches emailed this picture Thursday evening. He took pictures of all the kids running the bases so it took me a minute to see that this one was Oscar. I still can't believe that's my kid --he looks like he might even have a little speed.
Go Blue Jays!