Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bear Blows 'Em Away. What I Learned from Wolf.

As my children grow up and begin to manifest their unique talents and skills separate from what I as their mother think ought to be said unique talents and skills, I am amazed. Amazed that they have managed to do so despite my prodding and pushing to do other things. Funny how parenting is like that.

With Wolf we tried all sports and activities, quickly finding that those requiring team spirit were not exactly successful. Duh. Children with Asperger Syndrome prefer singular sports and such, and Wolf did exactly that, enjoying Taekwondo and roller blading and Nordic skiing, as long as things moved along at his preferred pace. Fine with me, once I let him be. Ever tried to make a kid like something he a) has little coordination, ability, or social skills or b) hates because of a). Letting Wolf simply embrace the things he loved was the biggest motivator for raising Bear to do the same, minus all the slip-ups.

Bear does not have poor coordination or pitiful social skills. On the contrary, he is quite an athletic youngster which, if he belonged to other parents, could have driven him toward early learning on the baseball diamond or soccer field. But he doesn't, and we don't.

Bear likes to do the things he likes to do, and since we've already been down this road, we let him, within reason. He wanted to do taekwondo, but after three years became weary of the not-so-fun-anymore format, so at the end of our contract we let him quit. He likes to ski really, really fast but we keep that within reason too with family ski days and plenty of freewheeling time on the slopes. What he really likes, though, is to run. And run. And run.

He ran a race last week with me as his "guide". A 3k sponsored by our local running club and the first "official" race of the season, the Do Run Run was an out-and-back race with only three other kids and a bunch of grownups. Our only goal, if you can call it that, was to "run" the whole way, since Bear, like most kids, dashes out at the start only to huff and puff 50 yards later in exhaustion. Good enough.

We ran together, he and I, with his big old feet slapping the pavement but with a highly-qualified runner's stature, arms pumping evenly at his sides, steady pace, and head up high. Ran the whole way, Bear did, and when we arrived at the final 1/2 k mark, I told him to give it all he had for the finish line. So he did, passing all the other kids and a good number of adults to finish 4th. Overall.

Yukon didn't even have a chance to take his picture crossing the finish line because he assumed we'd be at the back.

Bear crossed the line, cheeks pink with pleasure and wiping his sweaty head with his Running Club ball cap, a treasured possession. "Can I have a cookie, now?" he asked.

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