Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Tale of Two Boys: a guest blog

Over the past few days Lina's been in my office and we've been chatting about stuff. Lina has said that she has found it amazing that I have so many stories just from being out an about in the community. I've been telling her that there is so much to see but that people close down from seeing what's right in front of them. Then, one day, I had something I needed to ask Lina about work and when she came into my office she said, "OK, we'll get to work in a second" then she told me a story about something that she'd 'seen' for the first time. A couple days later, it happened again. The two stories she told me illustrated my point that there is a world out there to be open to and to see. I asked Lina if she'd write a blog about her experiences so that I could post it here. She agreed, though with some trepidation. I read what she wrote and am proud to bring it here with you.

A Tale of Two Boys

Lina Baccarella

If you ever need to find me, in the summer, particularly after 6:00pm, search the local baseball parks in Vaughan, and you’re guaranteed to find me, watching as intently as one can, to her son’s baseball game ... whilst holding numerous conversations with parents ... multi-tasking at its best.

But one night, something happened during the game that caught my eye. The Ump called one of our players out, something about the coach interfering with the play (after all the years, I really don’t understand all the rules). It seems that our couch, in trying to urge Joey to steel second base, touched him, and this is not allowed. Well, our parents did the usual bickering to the ump. But what caught my ear was Joey’s mom, who from her seat said ‘that’s not fair, Joey’s needs the extra help, he has a disability’.

That caught my ear because my son has been on this team for a few months now. I see this group of boys twice a week and sometimes on week-ends. I haven’t seen any disability, I have expert eyes, what did I miss? Ok, so now I need to really watch and think, I have noticed that Joey doesn’t always sit with the team, and that he doesn’t always socialize with everyone, I think Joey might have autism, how did this escape me???

Ok, back to the game, pay attention, the other team is up at bat, and they hit the ball, right to Joey, and Joey drops the ball. Joey gets the usual heat from the rest of the boys, ‘come on Joey, catch that ball….come on Joey’. I hold my breath, didn’t the boys hear his mom, Joey has a disability, should they really be doing this to him?

Next boy goes up to bat, and hits it to Joey again, this time Joey catches it rendering the boy at bat out, and then tags out the boy running to third – double play. And the boys let him know what a great job he did, cheering, just like they would every other boy. They treat Joey like they do each other, to them Joey is another 11 year old boy playing baseball, with them, on their team. Wow, this is really cool, this is what watching, really watching as my Sensei Dave continuously tells me, is all about. I am in awe.

But it doesn’t end there. The following week, we take a small break from baseball one night, because one of the boys is testing for his yellow belt in Karate. This is a special event; you go to a karate school, and take a two hour class. My daughter and I sit to watch the class. The people testing are lining up in order of belts (in Karate all belt levels are asked to stay in particular order). And everyone is doing this except for one lone boy – teenager, probably about 16. He has a green belt on, but he is standing behind the white belts.

Actually not standing but rocking, he is standing there rocking, and a bit of a hand flicker, oh my God, this boy has autism too. Oh, so I say to myself, that’s nice, they have probably catered the class specially for him, I mean he has a green belt on, I myself possess a white belt – no easy task to acquire (even though it’s the first) and any belt above that requires a great work out and agility, they must cater the class.

Then the class begins, and the Sensei asks the ‘belts’ to line up, and the teenager with the green belt, lines up, exactly where he should be. He works out with everyone else. When it’s his turn to test, he is the only green belt there – talk about pressure – this has freaked me out more than once, but he just went up to the front of the class and tested, and he was good – this was amazing.

And I have to tell you, as amazing as this was to watch, the very best part of this story was that I was watching this with my daughter, when we talked about this class later, and I asked her if she noticed the teen who was testing for his green belt, she indeed had. She noticed that he tested alone, she did notice the rocking and hand flickering, but that wasn’t what we talked about, we talked about the fact that he tested alone, he did an amazing job, he got his belt, and he was good, really good, no catering required!

Diversity through the eyes of my kids is even better then my own. They see people, lots of people, and they see all that they can be with their disability. This is what we talk about, this is what we preach, this is what my kids are living, thanks for teaching me to watch more closely Sensei.


Belinda said...

Hey, Lina!
What a great story! I loved it and the point you made--that people with disabilities are out there--as they should be--and often invisible unless we really look for them. Then, just as you'd find the same thing looking out for people with red hair--they are everywhere.

And I loved that you burst into print.

Jeff said...

Two very great observations and stories.


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Greg Horton said...

Hello – Thanks for sharing all the positive benefits of martial arts training for kids. excellent message – I would add teaching kids to be stronger Mentally, Physically, Emotionally, and Socially.

Greg Horton

5th Degree Black Belt