One of the most endearing attributes that defines Malcolm is his ability to live in the moment. He can shake off a bad episode in no time flat and savor the good out of any situation.
And I am jealous of that. So what do I do about it?
Be a part of it.
In the past week and a half he has been to basketball, baseball, and softball games at his adopted high school – West Forsyth, The Home of the Titans – watching others do the very things he tries to do at home.
Of course, I am biased toward the school where I teach and where my daughter attends, and I will attend as many sporting events as possible because I believe that teachers support students outside of the classroom.
I also believe that athletics can be a fantastic outlet for students. In fact, I would wager that most of the athletes that I have in class do better academically when they are in season than out of season. The focus, the time management, the motivation all factor into success in the classroom. Plus, there are some phenomenal teams and coaches at West.
But there is another reason that I appreciate being able to attend so many sporting events: I get to take Malcolm and let him roam. And watch. And emulate. And socialize. And be a part of. And savor. And just be in the moment.
If you ever wanted to see how inclusion really works, go to an event with a child with special needs where people do not see that child as having special needs.
That happens each time Malcolm goes with me to watch a game at West.
If you are not too familiar with Down Syndrome, you may not know that most all people who have that extra 21st chromosome experience hypotonia, or low muscle tone. It can manifest itself in so many ways because muscles help control almost every action in the body like swallowing, digesting, breathing, even speaking. Any parent of a child with Trisomy 21 can tell you that keeping the child active is imperative.
So back to Malcolm. His ability to savor the moment, and his love of sports, and his ease at being with others at West has done something for him and me that money cannot buy – he wants to play sports which means he wants to move and use his muscles.
The very students who grace the hallways of the school where I work have been teaching Malcolm how to move and play ball.
And he lets me play with him.
What people do not see at home is a kid who goes in the back yard and plays basketball and baseball for long periods of time trying to do the very things he sees athletes do on television or in person at West Forsyth. In fact, he will put on his shoes and go outside in the middle of the night if he can because when he gets an idea, he goes.
You want to talk about the kid who shoots baskets well into the night to perfect his shot? Yep, I got one of those.
So, I thought I could give you some ocular proof.
This first video is Malcolm pitching. Notice the intense concentration. The presentation of the glove from the windup. And then like Fernando Valenzuela, he delivers the ball without even looking at the plate. That adds at last 5-10 mph. By the way, his headband is one of those stretch resistance bands. Only great athletes can make that look good.
This next video is of Malcolm pitching to his mother. She does happen to hit the ball, but an error is committed by the invisible second baseman. Damn him.
Notice the presentation. The looking the runners back to the bases. The hat. Man, what a great hat.
In this video, Malcolm rips a double into the gap and then stops to admire it. In fact, he starts to lead the clapping of the crowd. Also, notice the running from home plate to second base which is under the basketball goal. Who needs first base? Again, notice the hat and the bat flip.
This was earlier in the day at batting practice. Headband on. Game on.
And, of course we have basketball. Get your own rebound. Pump fake. And the put back.