When Wil was about 7 years old, I saw another boy about his age run swiftly behind a soccer ball across the green spring grass, kicking it and laughing, running with such ease. I caught myself feeling jealous of that little boy and even of his parents. His parents probably took that effortlessness for granted, as did their son. Out there running around, and having fun, nothing more to it. But there was more to it to me. I am not talking about talent, simply about the ability to run easily behind a ball and balance momentarily on one leg to deliver a kick.
At the time, Wil was working on balancing in PT. He could balance on one leg assisted. Kicking a soccer ball was something he had to stop to focus to do. I was very proud of his work, and how much he enjoyed showing me his progress. But he was definitely halting; stopping, waiting for the ball to stop, balancing and kicking. Whenever I watched him play I was so proud of him. Proud of his progress, of his desire to work, and his pink, delighted cheeks as he chased the soccer ball. I was also very happy in my life knowing how great each seemingly small advance was. So I was surprised by this feeling of jealously I had.
We are all human, and will react the way we do. But also being human, we have the ability to turn these reactions around in the way we desire. So, I took a look at my feelings, and realized that it’s not so simple as saying we all have different talents. Wil does have Down syndrome. He can do a lot, but he also does have low muscle tone. He does have cognitive delays. But those are also the parts of him that make him so extraordinary. Without these delays, I would never have stopped in my life long enough to know the thrill of what it feels like to see your child stand on one leg.
We all have different talents, yes, but it’s really the things that we take and do not take for granted in our lives that set us apart. There are certainly typically-developing 7 year olds that can not kick a ball as swiftly as this boy did, and may be wishing that they could do this as well. And, there are other kids out there that will never, ever kick a soccer ball that wish with all get-out that they could attempt to balance on one leg like Wil. But we ALL can do something, and what matters is if that something inspires others.
I looked again at that little boy and enjoyed is swiftness, I soaked in his swiftness, and wondered how I could apply that to my life rather than be jealous of it. And the funny part of all of this is Wil could have cared less. He was out there doing his thing, running across the grass, laughing and having a good time. I realized that when the internal struggles happen, and I find myself feeling these emotions, I must be taking something for granted in my life.
There will always be someone who is swifter and someone who is slower. There will always be someone who excels at one thing and is weak at another. It’s the joys that we focus on that make us better and stronger in our own way. It’s the discipline to work in those areas of our lives day after day in the best way that only we can.
And when that green monster of envy reveals its face to me again, I will take that as a cue to take a good look at the green on my grass; without compare, but with compassion, grow it as beautiful green as I can while I laugh right along with Wil as he starts and stops and starts again.