I have been busy lately. Doing some major athletic conditioning. You know the type of training that you see on television when they show the football players bending at their knees and running in place. The coach blows the whistle and the padded players jump and turn to their right. The whistle blows again and the players drop to the ground, roll over, and then jump back up. Learning to be on alert. Ready to move, jump, sprint, roll, or dive wherever they need to be for the sake of the team.
Okay, so my athletic conditioning does not look as glamorous as the guys on TV. It does not take place on an open green football field. There are no young athletes standing by my side ready to hit the dirt with me. I don’t have a coach blowing a whistle telling me when or where to turn.
My training takes place in our home. I stand in the kitchen ready to dive, jump, spin, or vault myself into the room that my Dawson occupies, ready to keep him safe or save the room from destruction. A part of my Dawson — a part of his autism — is that he requires a whole heck of a lot of supervision. The type of supervision in which one needs quick reflexes, a loud voice, and a great pair of eyes in the back of your head.
So I came up with a little training list of why I need to be on my A-game for my little guy:
1. I must be able to quickly jump down two flights of stairs and sprint to my bedroom before my Dawson pulls all of my sweaters out of my closet, the magazines from my nightstand, or the vase on the dresser and stuffs them between our bed and the wall.
2. I have to have the ability to climb the same two flights of stairs, taking three steps at a time, and be able to spring off Dawson’s bed to grab crayons and markers from his hand and scream, “No!” to prevent his beautiful artwork from taking over his entire wall.
3. It is a requirement to be able to move in a super stealth mode to the bathroom that he is occupying to prevent him from either putting all of the toilet paper in the toilet or block him from drinking water from the toilet. The taking sips from the toilet water is a new one and is requiring additional push ups to be ready to prevent his head from going into the toilet.
4. Number four is a big one. You need the skill of running in place with your hands in front of you, ready to dash or dive to prevent marbles, Q-tips, paint, Legos, or any other small, random, non-edible object from being put in his mouth.
5. Number five covers all of the other darts and dashes that occur off the field in public places, like Target, Lowes, or a our local grocery store. The maneuvers that are needed to keep him from going out the emergency exit in a store and lunges that must be perfected to prevent him from smelling or licking the apples in the produce section of the super market require that some additional sit-ups are built into exercise regime.
But with all training and conditioning comes the cool down. The time when your heart rate has returned to normal. When you stretch and take in all that your body has just accomplished. The time of day when my sweet little boy snuggles under his blankets with me. When he repeats his most beloved lines from his Little People and Little Einstein videos to me. When he puts his cheek next to mine.
And I know that I am not alone in this training. That He is with me during every spin, sprint, and jump. And I lay my hand on top of my sweet Dawson’s freshly washed hair. I kiss his warm forehead. I whisper, “I love you buddy.” And through the dark I hear him put his lips together. I hear his Mmmmmm and his lips part with a smack. His kissing the night. His, “I love you too.”
From the Top 5 comes the one that cannot be measured or counted. It can’t be found without the intense conditioning. It does not come without the tears and sweat. It is the grace. It is the peace. It is the strength that comes from those intense workouts with my little boy. A gift he gives to me.
And as the stars shine on his ceiling from his Twilight turtle.
I squeeze his hand.
I whisper good night.
And I say thank you.
Copyright Cheairs Graves February 8, 2013