Saturday, March 16, 2013

Change on the Soccer Field

I wish I'd taken pictures. Today was the first week of Dean's TOPSoccer program through Richmond Kickers, a soccer program for kids with special needs. They each get a buddy (or two or three) and participate in an hour-long session weekly to play soccer. Dean is probably the youngest player there, and the ages go up to 16. This is the first time that we've had a sporting event (other than swimming lessons) that was just for fun for Dean.

Dean met his buddies for the day, two young teenaged boys who were so sweet. But they weren't sure how to guide Dean when he just wanted to run around and dribble the ball on his own. We tried and tried to coax Dean into listening to them and following their lead, or even for them to follow his, but Dean wasn't really interested in playing "soccer" per se. He was stuck.

I asked Bob to jump in and help out because when I tried, Dean just wanted to cling to me. Immediately, Bob got down on the ground with Dean. They had regular soccer balls and then other "soccer balls" that were the size of exercise balls. Bob took one of those and started rolling Dean around on it and then (gently) off the ball onto the grass. He had Dean interact with the ball in whatever ways he wanted, rolling it, throwing it, kicking it, saying "ball," just keeping him in contact with the ball. He saw that Dean, more than needing to learn how to play soccer, just had to learn confidence. That he had athletic talent for sure, but that it wasn't really time for that yet. Later in the car, we talked about this and Bob described Dean's needs with such clarity and with a plan for addressing those needs that was so perfect I didn't know what to say. Bob is an amazing dad who is quite in tune with our boys' needs, but this was something different. It was one of those little moments where I felt God's hands on our shoulders telling us that he actually knew what he was doing (imagine that) and that he was always, always with us.

We have known Dean for almost 4 years now, and he has been the same little guy since birth. His body has grown, but his personality has been consistent. Y'all, it is we who have changed. I watched it today in my husband who I've known for 13 years. So much for Dean being the one who was changed on the soccer field....

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