Today is cross country day for DD2 and she will most probably come last.
We’ve had years of this, so have given up pretending that it won’t happen. Platitudes don’t help. Her aim for today is to try not to cry but she’s taking tissues anyhow.
I have to hand it to my daughter; she has a tough time with the physical stuff but she is usually still quite enthusiastic about PE. She likes moving her body, even though it doesn’t work the way most people’s do.
PE lessons and PE staff seem to have moved on from when I was at school. I hated PE and often refused to take part. Looking back I’m pretty sure I had/have the same sort of issues DD2 does; hypermobility, poor muscle tone and dyspraxia leading to co ordination and propriceptive difficulties. But PE teachers were much less understanding back in those days. I was often told that I just wasn’t trying hard enough. DD’s teacher seem to be kind and encouraging, and have even enrolled her in a programme for children who need a little more help with sports.
Anyone watching DD2 run or play sport can tell she’s trying as hard as she can. But this is one of those times where effort is not necessarily rewarded. And running is different from team sports. When she runs she’s out there alone for all the world to see how she struggles. She simply can’t make her legs move faster or work harder and can do nothing but keep plodding on while everyone passes her.
She especially hates the way everyone crowds around after they have finished to watch her complete the course and cheer her on. They think they are being supportive, she just finds it humiliating. They say Well Done, whereas she knows she is rubbish.
But she is not rubbish. I’m very proud of her for her efforts. It must be easy enough to take part in this race when you are reasonably sporty and in the middle of the pack. It might even be pleasant if you are among the fastest- I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been there. But to keep on going when everyone else has finished and is watching you lumber your way to the finishing line, even if you can hardly see where you are going because of the tears spilling out of your eyes; that takes determination and sheer guts.
It’s hard for an autistic 12 year old to see this, all she can see is people’s faces patronising and laughing at her and when I pick her up tonight, she is going to be tired, grumpy and in pain.
This kind of thing is one of the worst bits of parenting. Seeing DD upset hurts me as well. I feel terrible that I can’t help her in some way and even offered to write her a note, but she turned me down.
Her reply was that she wants to do today’s cross country, she just doesn’t want to come last.
I know it’s a bad thing to hope that this year there is at least one child that is slower than her, but I can’t help but have everything crossed.