So… Saturday was Valentine’s day and that’s nice but bigger to us was that Connor Evans would play basketball again !!! Now please do not get me wrong, Chocolate is a MUST in my life, I repeat: chocolate is a MUST (also tons of coffee but I shall only reveal one addiction at a time!) and Valentine’s day is great but hey, after 21 years of marriage, a 9 year old with autism …and oh wait, throw in a few foster children over them past 2 1/2 years ….well, my motivation for “love” is this ….a man who will get up in the middle of the night with a fussy toddler because he knows “momma” stayed up too long after the house was quite, a man who will stay by his son’s side and “coach” him and the neighborhood kids in a game of catch, basketball, football or tag ….just to see that our son is able to stay engaged but not letting him or the others know what he’s really there for and all along the kids loving him for being involved with them….. those things, now those things speak to my heart! Also, when you live in the moment but you are forced to always be thinking of the very next “play” so to speak ….holidays such as this one are more of an after thought! Valentine’s 2015, however, will not be forgotten anytime soon ……
Good morning Mr. Sunshine ~
Yes, normally Connor enjoys oatmeal 365 days a year just as the title to our story indicates, however, Saturday being Valentine’s day my husband declared ….”it is a holiday, I will pick breakfast up for us!” Sometimes out of nowhere when this happens Connor will forgo the oatmeal ….sometimes! Saturday, he said yes to pancakes!! So, the spouse (as I like to call him) brought back pancakes and two Valentine chocolate bars ….one for myself and one for Connor! Pancakes and chocolate was interesting to say the least but I’ve learned to jump right into whatever the task may be for the sake of progress ~ autism is tricky yes but when you see a positive taking place, you jump right in even if it means you work your entire morning into keeping a positive spin so that you set your child up to be able to attain a goal such as playing in a basketball game!
Game time ~
I won’t lie …..most of the weekly practices and games we have to do a quick song and dance to get Connor to buy-in to the spirit of things and usually it’s more because he is so very comfortable at home, in a very predictable environment where he feels no undue stress ….anything outside of home can be a stress point but we usually lay out things way ahead of time so that he can prepare himself for whatever the day holds. Side note: Connor struggles very little with transition now, we’d like to think that years of good therapy and a lot of coaching techniques have helped us with such issues! Never-the-less game time comes around and we get Connor out the door just in time. I am always behind them due to one thing or another but Saturday it was because Tater Tot was snoozing through a very long afternoon nap to the point I finally had to wake the little spud just to make it before the second quarter started! Pulling out of the drive way I get a text from the spouse that read: “Connor started the game!” Now, my lead foot days of driving are over and have been for years, but I have to say I could not get there fast enough after having read those 4 words!
The start of the second half showed very few points on the board for either team and some where, some how by the end of the half the other team had a lead on us but strangely as I looked around at our team and Connor, things looked different! From the coach down everyone else, they all seemed relaxed and confident …..even the kid on the team with a diagnosis! I even noticed him noticing me and he waved his silly “I spotted you” wave as he trotted past me which distracted him and I finally mouthed “play the game!” Within the first 2 minutes of the second half our team was making points and had the lead which we would go on to keep for the rest of the game and end up with a huge win over the other team!
And then it happened …….
As if Connor getting to play almost an entire basketball game weren’t enough….. the Coach calls a time-out and rallies his team around him to talk and when the whistle blows the Coach himself escorts Connor to the other end of the court and speaks to him privately before the ball is then to be thrown in. I look on in admiration at my parents sitting next to me ~ the Coach was giving Connor “his moment” ~ and my heart was full! I quickly shuffled Tater Tot around to find my phone for that ‘just in case’ moment should he get his hands on the ball! There were some very good attempts made to get the ball to Connor and for one reason or another it didn’t happen that day but I can assure you that unlike what you might be thinking, this was in no way a “Casey at the bat” kind of moment! Instead it was more like a “Rudy” kind of thing!! When the buzzer sounded I look over to see the Coach with Connor in his arms and he picked him up as if Connor HAD made the winning shot!
You see there are “stepping stones”………
These are people that go out of their way to allow Connor to grow, they allow themselves to be his “Stepping stones” so to speak! We usually come across a few each year along Connor’s path, I’d like to think they’re all connected somehow! The Coach became one such “stepping stone” for Connor from the start of the season on and with only one game left to play, he has forever bridged Connor’s wish to play a team sport by allowing his stepping stone to be crossed! “Thanks Coach!” This is a Valentine we won’t soon forget!