So what a busy week it’s all been…personally, my school is winding down the year, and our final day is June 1st. My 4th graders have achieved a major goal of theirs this year: becoming finalists in the Siemens We Change Change the World sustainability competition! You can read about their project here http://www.wecanchange.com/elementary-school/about-challenge/2012-elementary-school-finalists/2012-elementary-school-finalists/#virginia Just scroll down and look for the SAS Fab 4ths from Virginia. I’m so very proud! Now we’re on pins and needles waiting for the May 30th announcement of the top 3 grand prize winners. Wish us luck!
On the spondy-front, the boys and I have been struggling a bit with this rather annoyingly damp Virginia weather. This persistent low-front means the enthesitis is being a pain in the neck (or back or knee wrist or SI joint…you get the picture) and the boys and I are getting a bit crabby with each other over who has custody of the TENS unit at any given moment. Probably about time for Lee to get his own since he’s turning 21 soon and is looking to move out on his own with his friends. I love my son, but I’m drawing the line at midnight runs across town to either bring him the unit; I know I’m not headed out in the middle of the night to retrieve it if I need it! Lee is slowly beginning to focus more on what he wants to do and the courses it will take to get him there. He’s certainly not a “liberal arts” sort of fellow, but “point me to the actual stuff I need to know and I’ll take it from there” sort. More on Lee at a later date.
I’m skipping over me this week, and instead paying a bit of attention to Ry’s past couple of weeks. He’s had a rough year on his high school soccer team; even though he’s played all three years, this year has been tough. There are 24 boys on the roster, and 12 of them seniors…good seniors. It’s meant a lot of keeping the bench warm, and it’s screwing with his head a bit. He made the decision to leave his club team for a new one beginning in the fall. He played the whole time there, but was struggling with the bond. Good guys, good coach, just not a good fit. He’s old enough now to make his own decisions about where to play, so we backed him on it. He’s incredibly competitive, so he’s extremely excited to be on the new team, which are exceptional.
Which brings us back around to the head games this bench sitting at high school is causing. Ironically, his club team is composed of a large percentage of the high school team. He has gotten himself into a bit of a funk; not playing, grades slipping a bit, the spondylitis having a minor flare as thanks to the weather. It’s enough to put anyone into a shitty mood. We’re having a bit of a struggle getting his classes scheduled for his senior year; he’s trying hard to lighten his schedule so he can start the day later. He has plenty of credits to graduate with a good old fashioned diploma, but without the extra classes, he won’t get the “advanced diploma”. For a kid who has always had to work very hard for his grades, and who has his sights set on sports management/coaching as a career path after his playing days end, he’s a bit confused as to why he’s being pushed to do the advanced diploma. Not by us, his parents, but by his school guidance counselor. So, whose goals are they then, and what is the path to get there going to be like?
I am so annoyed with public schools at times (notice, this is not a blanket condemnation). I am so blessed to be in a tiny, tuition-free private school for children of limited financial resources; it gives me the time to get to know my 16 students AND their families very well. I understand that simply is not practical in the massive public school my son attends. However, I am disappointed that Ry’s goals and interests, not to mention his health, are being sacrificed to essentially “pad” his transcript. He wants to reduce his course load to start later in the morning, not only because of the usual teenager “vampire sleep habits”, but because, especially in colder weather, his spondy flares more frequently, meaning he is stiff and sore and the IBS flares often in the morning. He has struggled this year with absences and late arrivals to school, and soccer has a bit of a motivating effect on him, but at a cost. In order to practice or be eligible for game day, he has to be there at school by a certain time. So, even though the chance of him getting much if any playing time are slim, he still has the drive and motivation to make certain the coach knows he’s willing and able. Which means dragging himself in some mornings, even when it makes me want to cry watching him do it. Those of us who live with an auto-immune condition have learned that when we ignore our bodies’ signal to rest, it makes recovery that much more difficult and lengthy.
Yet he chooses this time and time again because it is HIS goal: not mine, not his father’s, not even his coach’s. It’s all his, and he owns it.
We’re fortunate that his orthopedic/rheumatology team are as well-versed in his condition as they are; they are a major part of encouraging him to keep moving and keep active (AND keep taking his Mobic). None of us can predict the course his disease will take: if it will go into remission or not. But keeping him mentally in the game is as big, if not an even bigger factor, than keeping his body fit as he sets and strives for his goal of playing professionally. Surrounding his with coaches and doctors that understand that is crucial to his success. Having coaches understand that him having a single “off day” of training, is normal, and not an indication of disease progression. ALL athletes have a crap day now and again, but he’ll beat himself up more for it than your average athlete.
We wanted him to have a chance to stay match fit this spring (playing 5 minutes here and there just doesn’t do the trick), so his dad found him a men’s league to play in on the weekends. I nearly fainted (Martin played up until a couple of years ago, and I’ve SEEN the level at which some of these “Sunday leagues” function); Ryan thought he’d go out there and run circles around the “old guys”. Thankfully his dad, being a professional coach, knew better than both of us, and that he needed to be exposed to a very physical side of the game, as well as players who (for the most part) all played (or are on break from) playing in college and in the pros. His first game out, he played a few minutes to get initiated to the level. Mercifully, he survived! His second game, he started off looking a bit…well frankly…scared. When he came off the pitch as a sub, the coach and teammates all gave him a bit of friendly advice…quit looking so timid and go out there and do your job. You can do it; so just do it!
That did it…at 16, he went out and played with heart, passion, and drive. And scored his first goal in the adult league…not THE winning goal, but the final goal of a 3-0 victory that saw his team win the league. I think the photo below sums it up best. We will encourage and love you, always support you when you need it, and celebrate like crazy each of your successes.
**all photos in this post credited to Suz Kitsteiner. Thanks Suz for always managing to capture such beautiful moments!