Beckett turns 9 today.
How’s that possible? I assume that’s a question we will ask ourselves every year for the rest of his life. I presume all parents question how time has flown over the years and Pam and I are always amazed at the pace of how our kids are growing up.
This period of reflection and shock always occurs during the take stock moments, such as birthdays, first and last days of schools and holidays.
At this point in his life, among Beckett’s favorite things are, in no particular order, soccer, karate, talking, playing with friends, video games, candy, school (his goal every year is perfect attendance), basketball, cheeseburgers, talking, sleepovers, lollipops, conversations, biography books, WWE, Klondike bars and snowballs.
Did I mention he likes to talk? If any of his teachers, coaches, family members or friends’ parents are reading this, they understand well he’s skilled with the gift of gab. That’s not always a good thing, but he’s learning and seemingly accepting the notion that less is indeed more.
Our boy has a lot of interests. While life is full of excitement and high points and low points with him, I love him just the way he is. He’s energetic, challenging, irresponsible (at times) and argumentative. However, he also has a caring heart, is a loyal friend, compassionate, competitive, athletic, smart, outgoing, friendly and loving.
In short, he’s our son. He changed our lives forever when he was born nine years ago. He makes every day interesting and entertaining. He’s an impressive young boy who tests for his black belt in Tae Kwon Do in three weeks. He’s a constant source of pride as well as frustration. Parenting him is a roller coaster ride, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
He will bring home great test scores from school and score a hat trick in a soccer game the same day, but then intentionally do something to irritate or hurt his brother’s feelings. He’s an enigma at times, but he’s our enigma. He keeps us on our toes every day. I thank God for him and even welcome the gray hair and receding hairline that I believe is at least partially due to him with the remaining reasons being his little brother.
To me, the folks who willingly work with special needs children and adults are the angels among us.
Through our journey with our son Carson, we have tried to express our appreciation to all who have worked with him along the way. Whether it be teachers, educational assistants, doctors, Sunday School leaders, therapists or day care providers, we have made it a goal to let these folks know how much we value them. We don’t take them for granted. We appreciate them.
In my mind, the people who voluntarily decide their career path will be to help and work with children or adults with disabilities are the best human kind has to offer. They are angels living among us in my opinion and I hold them in the highest regard.
In recent months, there have been a few extra souls to add to this level of appreciation in our lives.
Over the last month, we have been utilizing the services of Verbal Beginnings, which is a home-based Applied Behavior Analysis organization that “promotes independence and improves the quality of life children with developmental disabilities through a custom treatment approach …,” according to its website.
These folks are professionals who choose to work with special needs people. We have been pleased with the practices put in place so far with our involvement with the group and look forward to continuing to see how they work with Carson and improve his and our quality of life.
Perhaps most inspiring is what we see on Saturday mornings at River Soccer Club in Frankford, Del. There’s a program called TOPSoccer, a volunteer outreach program geared toward young athletes with disabilities. In short, the program provides children and teens — who can’t play in most organized sports leagues due to their disabilities — an opportunity to be one of the kids and play the game of soccer.
Heading into the spring edition of this program at River, I reached out to Worcester Prep’s Upper School to see if there were any students interested in gaining community service hours by serving as “buddies” to the young athletes. I was hopeful we might be able to encourage a few volunteers on Saturdays during the spring.
The result was amazing, as more volunteers showed up than were needed and they have remained committed. Here are high school students volunteering their time to work with children with varying developmental issues.
After every session, I thank the students for coming up and specifically one named Cameron who Carson has latched onto this season. Her response is always, “no thank you.”
Yes, these are angels on earth and an inspiration.