You know you've become desensitized to something when it occurs and you stop blinking. My extra special guy, I'll call Buddy (because that's actually what a lot of adults call him, even though it's not his real name,) continues to hit, grab, and chase staff and students. What I don't think I mentioned is that when he realizes we aren't going to react to his shenanigans (yes, I said it) he will do something more drastic. Like...dropping his pants and underpants. I can count on both hands how many times he has stripped to nakedness on our campus during school hours when other students are out, especially during lunch. It's like dinner and a show when Buddy is on one of his episodic rants to get out of being at school. It got to the point where we put a belt on him and tighten it pretty snug so he can't pull his pants down. He knows which buttons to push--and when, smart kid.
So I'm actually doing a little teaching last week when Buddy decided to get my attention--once again, away from the other students. I'm at the white board helping a student write the date. He keeps making his Ds look like Qs. I figure I'd better do a dot-to-dot so he can trace on top of mine. While I do that, Buddy darts up to the front of the room and starts slapping me open-handed on the back. Smack! Smack! I don't even look over my shoulder (is this what the district is hoping for?...that I learn to just live with this?) Buddy's attempts to get me riled up go no where, so in front of the classroom, with three students at their seats and one at the board, Buddy pulls everything down. The belt was on the second-to-last notch...see how we have to keep it tight? He stands there with just a tee shirt on, still smacking me. Smack!! Bam!! on my back, I'm still teaching the other student how to write the name of the day. I turn to look at him and see that his pants are down, the bare moon risen, and I turn back to the board. Funny thing is...the students didn't react either. Snooze, yawn they say. Is that all you got Buddy? they think. I pull the radio from my pant waist and call for the other teacher to come pull up his pants so I can continue teaching, which is a rare event these clogged days. Smack! All the while my back is on fire from being slapped. But hey--the other student traced the D with much more accuracy this time. Good job.
But we aren't here for Buddy today. Kindsay has begun Special Olympic swim training. She loves to swim. Physical activity is not on her top twenty of things she loves to do. I don't even know that it's on the top thirty. But when it comes to swimming, it jumps to the top ten. She's been swimming since she was two. I took her into my grandpa's pool and laid her on her tummy and off she went. Little polly wog. The only thing that kind of bites is that the swim training is being done across town...bleh...other than that, it's over two hours twice a week that she is swimming laps. Take that Mac 'n Cheese microwave packs! She will burn you off with a flip of her foot! (she probably eats three of those a day.) The problem we are having is that she isn't understanding the concept of competition. "Mom...I want a gold medal, do I get a gold medal? What do I have to do to get a gold medal." Well, Kindsay, you have to win the race. You have to beat all the other kids in the race. "If I can't get a gold medal, I don't want to do swimming. What about 2nd or 3rd or something, am I going to get that? oh...I don't want that, I want 1st." Again, I say, you have to win the race, and that will require you to practice.
We are at the pool for the first practice. There must be thirty athletes ranging in ages from fourteen to twenty-four. They jump into the warm water with their goggles, swim caps, and uniform suits and wait for the coach's call. Kindsay doesn't have goggles or a swim cap and her pink and black Speedo swimsuit was from Dick's Sporting Goods (Kindsay calls it the Inappropriate Sport Store.) Nevertheless she jumps in. Coaches line the lanes as they prepare to assist three lanes full of athletes at a time. Their shouts of swim strokes "free stroke!" "butterfly!" "dolphin swim!" "back stroke!" fill the evening air. Kindsay is hanging on the ropes going, "Eeeeeee, Eeeeeee, Eeeeee..." If I can't find her among the athletes in the water I just have to follow the noise. Finally I verbally nudge her, "Kindsay! Start doing laps!" Off she goes, doing a little free stroke, and then a dip, feet up, and on to doggy paddle or her sea bass swim wear she pops up and cruises on her stomach. The other athletes are feverishly working to get to the end of the lane. Kindsay pops up, "eeeeeeee, eeeeeeee" and continues on. Midway through the lane she stops to hang on the rope. "Kindsay! Keep swimming!" I call to her. I'm trying to get her to take this seriously but she thinks its July at grandpa's pool. Okay, I tell myself, she's out of shape and this is hard work, let her body adjust to the rigor. "Eeeeeeee!" I want to jump in the water and pull her tugboat style down the lane to finish. The athletes then go to the edge of the pool to await more commands from coaches. Kindsay cruises up, hangs on the rope watching the "hot" guys on the dive team next to them. She then hangs on it to stare at the athletes next to her with their goggles and caps and stern swimming faces. "Eeeeeeee..." She's not mimicking a dolphin, though it does sound like Sea World. She makes the noise because she just makes noises--it's what she does. Coaches are asking if she's okay...what, have you never seen a special needs child? like mine? Just when I think she is getting the hang of the laps and lanes and spirit of the practice I look up to see her on her back, kicking her feet, hands floating beside her. I think I saw her spout water from her mouth too. Just la-dee-da'ing down the lane, running into athletes who see her coming because they have goggles while she heads straight for them on her back. And then when she does her dip and cruise her four-foot long legs are bumbling around in people's faces while they are working on their gold-winning strokes. I gave up trying to quasi-coach her from the bleachers. I found it better to act like I'm there for someone else. Go! kid in the scuba goggles....Go!..girl with the swim cap...uh, go! athletes that are swimming and not leisurely strolling down the watery lane. I have to remind myself that these aren't regular Olympics, these are Special Olympics. Everyone better get a medal, or I'm in big trouble. Actually, none of us will ever hear the end of her torment, so we'll all be in trouble. With that in mind, I might as well cheer her on. Go!...girl with the best float form and dolphin imitation. Go! Go! GO!...seriously, just go. *sigh*