Warning….this blog post is raw and real. I am writing this in the height of the emotion of it all. Carsten and I are mourning. We are sad. We knew it was coming some day. It has arrived.
You all know that I am usually a sunshine and rainbows person. I love talking about the high points of this life. Tonight is different. I am not writing to complain or to throw shade on anyone in particular. My hope is to brainstorm ideas to change things, find solutions, and to be real.
As most of you know, Carsten LOVES baseball. He lives for it. He loves playing it, talking about it, watching it, and watching movies about it. He can’t get enough. The Little League in our town has been wonderful about accepting him and including him. Last year he played down an age group, and we had a great experience. The coaches and kids loved him, encourage him, and included him. I asked for him to play in the same age group this year again. I had a phone conversation with the head of the league, and it went great. They assigned Carsten to a team, and Matt and I were so hopeful for another great season. Don’t get me wrong, we knew the end was near, but we were hoping for one more season.
On Saturday, Carsten had his first practice. The kids were standoffish, but we were expecting that. They don’t know Carsten. After all they are two years younger than him. The head coach took time to work with Carsten, and I was hopeful. Then the parent meeting at the end of practice happen. The coach talked about his goals being:
- To have fun
- To learn more about baseball
- To be competitive – this is the real world
Ok….not a fabulous sign, but we weren’t out yet. Give them time to see the real Carsten…to get to know him. They would see the benefits of having him on the team. Time. That’s what we need here. Don’t panic! I mean how competitive can 8 year olds be?
Then tonight we had the second practice. Carsten was sooooooo excited. He practically jumped out of the car. I tried to push that voice into the back of my head. I watched as Carsten walked up to his team. The assistant coach didn’t even acknowledge Carsten. His team mates walked right past him. Carsten laid down his bag, and worked on getting out his glove. He then walked up towards the team. Again no one acknowledged him. The head coach was a tad late, and when he arrived he moved the team down the field a little. My sixth sense was SCREAMING at me! GO GET HIM!!! LEAVE NOW!!! GO GET HIM!! With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I texted Matt to come and switch me spots. I couldn’t do this. When he arrived he walked over to watch practice. The coach did work with him. He texted me optimistically that Carsten was throwing as well as some of the other kids. At the end of practice the head coach walked up to discuss his concerns. He was worried about Carsten not being able to catch the ball well. Matt reassured him, and headed for home. Once home Carsten walked up to me crying. He said, “It’s over. I want a team.” I cried and held him. I said, “I know Carsten. What if we go back to the Miracle League.” He shook his head and said, “No. I play baseball.” Uggggggg!! Carsten is so intuitive. He get’s it. He understands how people feel about him. He is nobody’s fool.
This is the hardest thing I have had to tackle with Carsten. I could have never predicted this 9 years ago. I officially give up trying to predict the hurdles we will face on this journey.
Let me add that the people with the Miracle League do such a wonderful job. It’s a beautiful field. The volunteers are top notch. It’s a fabulous program. The problem is it doesn’t feel like real baseball to Carsten. Judging by all of the smiles on the Miracle League field, I think Carsten is in the minority here.
What am I to do? Where does Carsten fit? He wants to play baseball with the kids he goes to school with. He wants to feel like one of the team. He wants to be appreciated. He wants to be included.
We’ve come a long way as a society, but have we come far enough? Does having special needs have to still mean being separate from their peers? I see the kids at Carsten’s school. These kids are the cream of the crop. They get it. They know there’s more to life than winning. This generation can truly change the world. How do we make sure they don’t succumb to the way we think? How do we adults get out of their way to let them do this? What’s a mom like me suppose to do? I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard spot….on a deserted island. I can’t believe Carsten is the first kid to be stuck in this no mans land. It’s so strange. Bo could care less about sports. If I put him in the Miracle League, I am sure he’d thrive! He’d love the activity, and love getting the extra attention. That’s not Carsten.
Here I sit with the same question swirling in my brain. How do we do this better? What do I do? Do I call Carsten’s friends and see if they will meet us at a field to play ball once a week? Call it a “Carsten pick up game” for all of those that just love the game? Honestly, what do I do?!?!?!