One of the parents on an online support group posted yesterday that she was anxious as, although her son regularly competed in paralympic swimming competitions, it was his first race against non-disabled competitors. She experienced nerves that she did not usually feel and they were both feeling the pressure. This struck me and I posted ,what I hoped were encouraging words to this stranger : I wrote that ‘Cameron is already a winner!’ Facebook allowed me to offer my support to a stranger and her young son.
Actually this whole area was alien to me, as I have no interest at all in competitive sport, and neither has Joshua. Therefore,while I was impressed that he son was competing in the ‘normal sports world’, I was questioning why she would put her son , and herself, through the trauma. But without knowing the family and the disabilities involved, who am I to judge? I think that my view would be, do it while it is fun, but if it is making you both sick with worry, then it is time to step away. There was one time that I questioned how tired Joshua is and a Doctor told me that it takes such supreme effort for someone with Joshua’s disabilities to stand up and to put one foot in front of the other, things that we take for granted. Clearly, that being the case, I personally would not put Joshua through the ordeal of competing at all, but certainly not against able-bodied sportspeople.
However, Cameron was a winner already because he had turned up and he was willing to give it a go. In the real terms of the race, he come fourth but that was impressive and I am sure that the family celebrated as though it were an Olympic Gold medal-winning performance! We have to celebrate the small achievements that our children make everyday, even without a competition or audience. Last night Joshua called our friend’s dog, Nobby, by his name after several attempts when it kept turning into ‘mmmmmmummmy!’, and the cheer that we gave him made him beam with joy and repeat the precious word.
Today, as Joshua bravely faces another hospital bed, another general anaesthetic, more needles, then I will be by his side, cheering him along.