Tuesday, May 29, 2007

the world is schizophrenic

Ciarra had a baseball game last night. She moved up to a regular pitch league, from T-Ball. It is always a big decision for us, to allow her to follow her dreams or to squash them in the interest of...I dunno...not upsetting anyone, risking her being hurt, making people uncomfortable? I am not really sure, I am just assuming some things. It is odd how you can read so many opinions online about how people claim they "really" feel, and then experience life and get a whole different take on it. If I allowed our lives to be ruled by what others think, I would hide her away from the cruelty out there and keep her safe, at home, with me. But that would mean she missed out on so many things she so desperately wants to do. And it would mean that I do, in fact, see cruelty...out there. For the record, I haven't, yet. Not the slightest whiff of it, even. One time, another parent actually said to me that before she knew Ciarra better, she was "intimidated" by having her around. Intimidated...by an 8 year old? It was interesting to have that conversation, part of me was sad and the other part of me was celebrating that she had the guts to tell me how she really felt. But that's been the extent of it, so far.

Does Ciarra ever wonder about "acceptance" and "belonging"? I have no doubt. Like every other young girl, she wants to be popular, she wants to be invited to every party. She wants to belong. In so many ways, she does. In some other ways, there is more work to be done. But most of the time, Ciarra is just one of the gang. Life will change, perhaps. Maybe we will look back on these moments that were easy and long for them, someday. But with every game, with every hit, with every smile and high-five from a friend, she is learning to take her place in society, and they are learning to expect to see her there beside them.

I don't know what the future will bring, but as scary as it is, I will embrace it just as we embrace every day of her childhood. At some point, it is Ciarra who will carve the path, rather than me. I hope that I am right to teach her that she belongs just as much as any other child out on the field, in the classroom, in the world.
So, we play baseball, and we expect that Ciarra will be treated like any other kid out there. And she really is. Sure, she needs a few more tries to do some things, she probably won't be very good this year at catching pop flies, but she is sure trying.

She got a VERY nice hit last night, and the people watcher in me was intrigued by the reaction of the fans on both sides of the diamond. ALL of the kids cheered, ALL of the parents cheered. In fact, as she rounded first base, her friend hugged her. There is this sort of unspoken pride they seem to take in her, like she is the underdog in some ways, and they are rooting her on. But it doesn't feel like pity. It feels like respect. Respect for her trying so hard. Respect for being out there, doing her best, and succeeding. I wonder sometimes if they are just surprised that she can do it, and she appeals to the better parts of them as people? No matter, really. She is out there, and she is doing it. And she is happy.

Sometimes she does things that surprise all of us. Last week, she stopped a ball cold that was well-hit, scooped it up, and threw it hard to the coach/pitcher, effectively ending the play and saving at least 2 runs. It was one of those in the moment things where her ability shined far and above her dis-ability. It was neat to watch the other kids walk over and high-five her, and to hear a boy from her team telling his mom that "Ciarra saved us on that play." Then the hit last night, and her pride as she turned to look at us, give us the thumbs up sign, and turn back around to be a part of the game she so loves. Pride doesn't even come close, and it has nothing at all to do with the hit, an everything to do with her determination to be everything she can be in this world. Ciarra doesn't demand home runs, she is just happy to play the game. But make no mistake, she wants to win as much as the next kid. She takes pride in her team, in her play, in her ability. Doesn't matter what the outside world thinks, really. Ciarra thinks she is doing a great job, and Mom and Dad and Coach do, too. And from the sounds of things last night, here in our world, in her life, she is accepted and celebrated. All I can ask is that she be treated fairly, that she be given the opportunity to be a child. All I can dream for is exactly what we are living, and I am grateful that we live in a time and place where Ciarra can just be a kid, play the game, and hear her name called out by people who care about her and want her to succeed.

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