Not everyone is blessed with the gift of coaching a Special Olympics team as was in the case of the gracious person who offered to be the bowling coach, AKA m___ bowling lady, who will be now referred to as the MBL. I laud the MBL's time and potentially well meaning behavior that she invested into this activity, as she consistently showed up at the lanes, started off with good will and a smile, and I really believe she wanted to be patient, kind, and treat everyone equally. I do believe that was her intent, she just did not get the memo that when you are a coach or parent of a child with special needs, and your patience bank has run out, you need to dig deep, take a loan, borrow more patience, do whatever you need to do to refill your bank. MBL when she had reached her limit, as in Mount Vesuvius, exploded, just lost it. Now, if you know anything about caring for these kids, that once you have lost it...it is hard to regroup. In order to maintain peace and quiet, utter calmness, prevention of a disaster is worth it's weight in gold...or gold being sanity.
Peter, actually, really liked bowling, but in his usual Peterism, would need the normal coercing and sometimes bribery to play at the practices. I found that if I just dropped him off, his participation level increased significantly. So, I would spend the hour practice doing errands, walking around the outside of the bowling alley, or hiding in the crowd of parents, hoping he would not detect my presence. His instinctive radar, like he could smell me, allowed him to almost always found me in the crowd. When it came to the big day of participating in the tournament, Peter probably about 99% of the time, would decide he was not going to bowl. Now, this was a very sensitive time for me, as if Peter did not participate, he let his team down. If Peter chose not to participate in a track event, he only lost out, but in this case...it was the whole team. The pressure!! The "no egg on your face" feeling I had every morning that we needed to get the the bowling area. He always got there, but never without a huge, that would be HUGE amount of discussion, bribery, sometimes tears, before he even got in the car. Yes, at times, I, the mother, even resorted to deceit, leading Peter to believe he was going somewhere else, that would not have the name Bowling Alley on it. Of course, getting him out of the car when confronted with Bowling Alley...I won't even go there! Writing this, I wonder if it would have not been easier just to stay home, no, because it was truly my philosophical belief, that engaging Peter in these activities would eventually lead to a more well rounded person and get him over this hump....this A to B thing.
Finally, after years of convincing, Peter did get up one bowling tournament morning, and decided that he was going to participate. Hallelujah!! He wanted to go, his friends were on his team. He even put the dreaded Bowling shirt on, and off we went, met his team, he sat down to play. Now, before I go to far in this dialogue, just an FYI, Peter was not on the MBL's list of favs...probably would not take alot of thinking as to the why. I really do believe she wanted to like Peter, he was just alot of work. Back to the story, the day of play, I could even sit behind the imaginary line in the bowling alley where the fans sit, cheer, and never, and I mean never cross. I sat, Peter bowled...nirvana.
Peter had this unique style of bowling where he cradled the ball close to his navel, ran up to the line, and flung the ball down the alley. The longer he bowled, the higher the flung and the louder. I do not understand how his ball never ended in his neighbor's alley, but it did not.
On this particular day, Peter and his team were doing great, headed for the Regional tournament, when in the third set, Peter's flungs were getting higher, and MBL's patience was getting lower. Peter, got an in your face warning which I thought for sure would send him to the parking lot. But his love for his friends, brought him back to the bench who had just been disciplined for some behavior that MBL deemed inappropriate. Undaunted, the team decided to engage in that game of hands which little kids play where you flap your hands amongst yourself and laugh and laugh and laugh. Guess who was not laughing.....being behind the imaginary line, we the parents, could say nothing but watch with abated breath the next events. Putting the MBL over the limit, the boys received a in your face, finger pointing, incredibly loud warning to stop that behavior. I was convinced that Peter's bowling game was finished. Done for the day....
To my surprise...Peter did not leave. He sat there calmly waiting for his turn, his team mates in tears. When it came, he slowly rose, squarely looked the MBL in the face with a look that you may put into your own words, turned around, and put the ball into the gutter, and once again, returned the same look at the MBL. He repeated this behavior until the second in command, observed the situation, calmed the team, and got them back on track. Although the bench of parents were yelling No Peter, there was this little voice in me say "Yes!!".
Peter's team did not go on that year, as they ended in fourth place. But, Peter, in his own way, seemed to have overcome another obstacle. He got there, he stayed, he made a point. The MBL was relieved of her job that year, and a much more loving and friendlier coach took her spot.
Peter now, at this point, likes bowling, goes to bowling, goes to the tournament and has a great day. Maybe all those years of coersion, crying, bribery paid off and were well worth the effort. Again, a Mexican stand off... did I win? No, I think Peter won!