The Issue That Wasn’t
Liam has found his mojo, his thing, his niche. After years of being a homebody and a bookworm, Liam joined the Cross Country team at his school and has really excelled at running. Though the season has ended, he has his sights set on breaking the school record next year. I’m so stinking proud of him.
After the first meet I asked Liam if he wanted to host a team dinner at our house. It’s a really nice group of kids and these are friendships I’d love to encourage. To my surprise, Liam said yes. I gave him two menu choices that he took to the team. He helped me clean and bake. They were all really looking forward to it.
Garreth and I sat Liam down a few nights before the dinner and brought up a subject I don’t think he’d considered: Aidan. Aidan is part of our family and would obviously be home for dinner. Some of Liam’s teammates may have seen Aidan around school/town/games before. I wanted Liam to be prepared if his friends had questions about Aidan or made any comments. I wasn’t at all expecting rude comments, but perhaps curious ones. Liam said he was prepared. I asked him if he had any concerns or preferences about Aidan’s presence. Liam requested that Aidan eat in the kitchen where we would set up a buffet while the team would eat in the living room. This was Liam’s night. Aidan’s feeding chair takes up a lot of room and he’s a messy eater. I had no problem granting this request.
The night of the dinner arrived and Aidan was in his manual wheelchair. The kids said hi to him and Liam told them his brother’s name. It was all very….normal. Aidan was absorbed into the fun of the evening. He wheeled around and was quite verbal trying to get in on conversations. The runners mostly ignored him, but not at all in a weird way. Aidan just wasn’t an issue at all. He was just….there…..as he should be on his brother’s big night.
I want to say something profound about inclusion, but mostly I find myself grateful to these kids for letting me celebrate who Liam is becoming and allowing Aidan to really be just part of the family.
On a side note, because the team (girls) were talking so much about the homecoming dance that weekend, Liam ended up going. His first dance ever. I only freaked out a little and I only texted him once.