Parenting: Here’s Why It Took A While For Me To Post That My Son Was Named “Player of the Year”
I took a while to write this post. In fact four days before my fingers actually hit the keyboard because I wanted to think about this a little more.
My son, Eli, was nominated by his football club team mates as Player Of The Year. Oh man, I was so thrilled for him. I couldn’t be at the awards and when Michael told me about it, his voice was filled with excitement. It was a deeply meaningful acknowledgement for both Eli and Michael because they have worked very hard for four years to develop Eli to play at this level.
I did not immediately share this news on social media. Last week I was astounded by the excitement that was generated when I shared a post about Eli’s achievement on the Kumon programme.
It was lovely to see that Eli’s achievement in Kumon was so encouraging to so many people but it also made me step back and re-evaluate why the response was so good and what does it mean to me and to my audience. The thing about the internet is that it’s not just about me and what I am sharing. It’s also about my audience and how this information impacts them.
As Savannah’s mother, I understand a little something about being “unable to achieve”. I also know that her unusual achievements have little appreciation in the wider social context. When she began her schooling career at age three, my social group had no idea about how hard we worked with Savannah to achieve simple skills such as holding her own bottle. It took her over seven years to learn how to throw a ball. She still cannot catch a ball unless it is thrown from very close to her and then only if she is alerted that a ball will be thrown to her.
I knew what it felt like to have a child whose report card read “not achieved”.
Over the years, as a parent and professional in the disability sector, I’ve learnt so much about the hard work and effort that so many children and their families put in to achieve their goals. Therefore today as a writer and speaker it is important to me to be responsible in sharing good and not so good stories. It begins with asking myself “why” am I sharing a piece of news and “what” do I want to achieve.
The only reason I share anything is to be a testament to Faith, Hope and Love. Eli achieving anything is not just that he has some gifts, but also that he works really hard in other areas of our lives too. As a family with a person with special needs, and who have minimal help, there are a fair amount of chores that the children have to assist with.
Amongst Eli’s responsibilities are clearing the garden of the dogs’ mess, feeding the dogs every evening while Talisa feeds them every morning, taking the laundry off the clothes line, taking the garbage out, making a fire (when necessary) and cleaning the fireplace, helping in the kitchen either with food prep or cleaning up, cleaning his own room and helping to set and clean the table around mealtimes.
Aside of this, Eli is a sibling to Savannah who sometimes needs assistance in different ways such as sorting out her computers or phone when there is a technical issue. Eli or Michael help her with this. When we attend parties or shows, Savannah also likes to have any recorded media on her devices so someone has to transfer it to her devices. Eli or Talisa usually take on this task.
Savannah needs to stretch by playing ball and she needs someone to take her outside and to throw the ball at a pace that is suitable for her. Eli, our resident sportsman becomes Savannah’s coach and works out with her.
Or when she wants to go for a walk, and I’m the available adult to take her but I actually don’t want to have to talk or listen anymore that day, Eli usually offers to accompany us, and keeps Savannah engaged with his happy banter.
Michael usually helps Savannah to bed, gives her medicines and prays with her. She sleeps much better when he does the bed time routine. But when he is not home, the only person who fills those shoes for Savannah is Eli. What it feels like listening to him go through Savannah’s routine is hard for me to describe. As a mother it just grips my heart and makes me feel like I am glowing from inside. What it does for Eli and for Savannah as siblings, is something one can only understand when you view life from this side of the field.
We know so well that life is full of surprises and challenges. We do not know what hurdles are still to come as Eli goes from boy to man. For now in this season, he has marked his life with these achievements and so I share his news. At eleven years old, while still developing and learning like any other boy of his age, he is also responsible in ways that many children aren’t expected to be or don’t have to be.
That is a testament to having learnt at a young age, that faith can move mountains, that hope is a lifeline and that when you love, you gain more than you give.
That brings me to “what” I want to achieve when I share posts about achievements. I want to encourage you that children can achieve so much more than we think is possible; provided that they are operating within their own abilities and their passions. I know how important it is for children to have the space to work for a dream, and then to have the space to bask in it’s glow when their dream becomes reality.
So for me, I share these moments of our lives not only to encourage a wider audience, but to also encourage my children. The internet is one giant diary, keeping an online record of our lives. Long after I’m gone these posts will be the relics my children and their children will sift through to learn about their past.
For Eli and Talisa, I want my writing to be a reminder to them of the amazing and wonderful ways God was with them and with their sister. As siblings to someone who will need care for her whole life, I hope that Talisa and Eli will find encouragement and strength when they grapple with issues unique to them. I hope that as they reflect on these posts they will remember what hurdles our family were jumping and why their achievements for its time were remarkable.
- I hope like that like a striker, I will keep my eye on the ball ever ready to take the tackles, and make the strike to benefit our family.
- I hope like a great defender, I will know when to move forward and when to move back; never undermining my children’s abilities in the game of life.
- I hope, like a goalkeeper during a penalty shootout, I will have broad enough shoulders to keep my chin up to return to the box time and time again to make a stand for my team.
- Most of all I hope I remember that just like a football coach knows that the game must challenge and test his players in order for them to be better, life will do the same to my children.
They must enter their own Theatre of Dreams to face the ball, to make their move and to learn to accept consequence thereof, for glory or defeat.
My greater hope is that when my children face their challenges: it will always change them for the better.
"We strive for perfection and if we fail, we might just have to settle for excellence." -Sir Matt Busby