Almost every Friday, I look forward to taking my son Danny who has cerebral palsy (CP) to a neighborhood pool for his weekly swim lesson. Our swim instructor, Susan, has the patience of Job, and regularly performs aquatic miracles, teaching everyone from crying babies to water-phobic adults how to swim (in the deep end) and come out of the pool with a smile.
There’s a small crowd of families on Friday afternoons, and we’ve all come to know and like each other. It doesn’t matter that the pool is located on one of the busiest boulevards in town because once I’m inside the gate, there’s a calming ripple of water that seems to dim down the outside noise and lets me forget about all the hassles of the past five days, and look forward to a nice Shabbat dinner including the wine.
Danny has been taking swim lessons there for years, and he has ever so slowly learned how to kick, move his arms, and blow bubbles, but not always all at the same time. He puts his head underwater, smiling away, and can now float a bit on both his stomach and back, and can tolerate wearing goggles! Like many people with CP, swimming is easier for him than walking since he doesn’t have to fight gravity in the water.
But this week something happened on the way into the pool that was, for us, an even bigger deal than swimming. Instead of parking in our usual spot right in front of the pool, I parked around the corner, about half a street block from the busy boulevard where the pool is located, and got him out with his walker. He was standing there on the sidewalk, when I yelled out to him, “Mommy has to get out a few things, just wait a minute”. Then I dug around in the back seat to find my trusty water bottle, and some sunscreen, closed and locked the car, and I when I turned around, Danny was gone, no where in sight.
My heart skipped a beat and my brain jumped to the extremes. Had he gone into the traffic? Had someone kidnapped him? I ran around the corner, and there he was, waiting at the gate of the pool, fiddling around with the lock and trying to get it open. It was hard to decide whether to be mad or overjoyed, so I just said, “Good walking—time to get in the pool.”
PS Be happy it’s Adar and Purim begins Wednesday night, March 7th, with the tradition of megillah readings both that night and the next morning. If you missed my post from last year about the sensory challenges of this fun holiday for kids with special needs, you can read it here .
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