Wil loves the water — when it’s shallow and he can see the bottom. Deep lake water, not so much. We were out on Lake Lansing with our friends Cheri, Randy and their son, CJ. CJ also has Down syndrome and he is a master at many things, including water sports.
CJ, Katherine and Elizabeth had just finished a wild ride of tubing together on an enormous tube. Randy had asked the trio if they wanted to ride at a boring level 1, or to amp it up to a crazy level 3 ride. They all shouted, “Level 3!”
Wil watched from the boat as the trio laughed and bounced over the wake, their tube whipping from one side of the boat to the other. Wil wanted to do what they were doing. But he was too scared.
When the trio came back into the boat, Cheri offered to get on the tube with Wil. Not for a ride, but just to climb on the tube with her. Randy would keep the boat still and I would hold the tube right next to the boat. We wouldn’t be going anywhere. Cheri and Wil would just float together. Wil considered the prospect as he adores and trusts Cheri. He really wanted to, but his fears had the best of him. He shook his head no.
Cheri held Wil’s hand, and encouraged him some more. I could visibly see his will breaking down. Wil then nodded. We all cheered him on. Wil and Cheri slowly crawled onto the tube together. I held the tube close to the boat.
As soon as he and Cheri were secure on the tube, Wil took a look all around him. Shore was off in the distance. He was on the tube in the middle of a big lake. An enormous smile spread across his face. His fear had transformed into amazement.
Cheri said, “Let’s have Randy drive really, really slow. I have my glasses on, so I can’t go fast or they will fall off.” Wil looked at Cheri and nodded his head. He was ready.
“You know how your sisters and CJ went really fast?” Randy asked. “We are not going to do that. Nice and slow.”
I let go of the tube and very slowly released the rope. The tube eased out further and further from the boat. Wil held tight to the handles, snuggled next to Cheri, but his smile never faded.
When the ride was over Wil didn’t want to get off the tube! We needed to remind him he had to share with his sisters and CJ. When Wil stepped off the tube into the boat Randy said, “How about a level 13 next time Wil?”
“Oh, a level 13? I don’t know if that has ever been attempted before, Wil.” I said.
“Yeah, Randy!” Wil said without an ounce of hesitation.