My Kid Got His 1st Trophy. He Wasn't The Best Player But He Deserved It Just The Same.


When Norrin was first diagnosed with autism there were so many things I couldn't see happening. I was stuck in this idea of this is where he is now, and it will always be like this. That was six years ago. Norrin and I have come a long way since then. And I know that where we are now, will not be where we are next year. Norrin may have autism but like every other kid - atypical or otherwise - he is maturing, evolving and learning. Norrin simply continues to amaze me. And when he achieves another milestone - regardless of how big or small - it is a moment worth celebrating.

This past weekend was a major milestone for Norrin. Saturday was his last game of baseball and Sunday was Trophy Day. And every kid got a trophy - including Norrin. It was his first. 

If you're on social media, I'm sure you've seen this meme. It's pure snark and aimed at parents raising a generation of entitled and unbearable brats who will one day grow up to be total assholes running the world. 

For those who have liked and shared the meme. Trust me - I get it (I've shared it too). I' m doing my best not to raise a jerk. 

But the "Every Kid Deserves a Trophy" is a subject of great debate. Especially among the typical parenting set. 
The helicopter parent is the parent who catches a child not when he crashes and burns, but when he merely scrapes his knee. It is the parent who needs to alleviate every ounce of her child's anxiety... I define "attaboy" or "attagirl" parenting to be giving constant praise to a child regardless of effort and outcome. This is the parent who preserves her child's spirit and confidence above all else... I think that we have way too many "attaboy" and helicopter parents today than "pick yourself up and dust yourself off" parents, and in my opinion, that's taking the easy way out of child rearing. Kelly Trotter King, Every Child Deserves a Trophy...Really? Huff Post Parents (2012) -- written in response to a NY Times article, Raising Successful Children by Madeline Levine.
I don't know what it's like to raise a typical child. But if I had one, I doubt I'd be a helicopter or an "attaboy" parent. I'm not one now though I suspect I must look like one when at the playground. I may hover, but a helicopter mom I am not. When I cheer my kid on, it's because I know he needs the encouragement to keep trying - not to boost his ego. And when Norrin starts to tantrum, I am totally okay with letting him cry it out until he calms down. 

When you have a kid with special needs, it's not easy watching them picking themselves up and dusting themselves off after getting knocked down. And there have been times, when I've had to look away because my initial instinct was to catch my kid before he crashed and burned. I know that I have to let Norrin fall a few times in order for him to succeed. I want him to be independent as possible. I'm fine with that. And in that aspect, I agree with that parenting philosophy. I don't think King or anyone else  in the great trophy debate had autism in mind but still... 

I'm going off topic. Back to the trophy and why Norrin (and everything other kid on the Bronxchester  Challenger League) deserved one.     

When Norrin was first diagnosed, Joseph and I watched as he struggled with so many things 'typically developing' boys were doing. I remember Joseph asking every therapist who ever worked with Norrin to focus on things like throwing, catching, jumping and kicking. Joseph - a natural and enthusiastic athlete and like most dads, he wanted to be able to share his love of sports with his son.

It has taken years of therapy to get Norrin to throw and catch a ball and to jump up and down. And he still struggles with his movement and coordination. 

We tried baseball last year but Norrin wasn't especially interested. He had a hard time focusing and didn't understand the overall concept. And while the kids played baseball, it was a little unorganized and just wasn't for us. 

I was hesitant to try again but I knew the Bronxchester Challenger League would be a different experience. It was exciting to see Norrin in his baseball uniform on his first day. I didn't mind waking up early Saturday mornings to get him to the field. I sat on the sidelines with the other moms, cheering our kids on.

That first time out on the field, Norrin had a tough time. He wanted to sit in the grass and run around the field. He had difficulty holding up the bat and aiming for the ball - he needed a baseball tee and a lot of guidance. But week after week, he got a little bit better. Week after week, he tried a little bit harder. He was looking forward to playing baseball. He wanted to play catch with Joseph. And by that very last day on the field, Norrin no longer needed the tee. Norrin still had difficulty but he kept trying until he got it (the coaches were patient with him).

Norrin wasn't the best player on his team, nor the most improved but man did that kid try! Week after week, he tried his best. And week after week, I saw improvement. The trophy he received, wasn't handed to him because he just showed up. Norrin earned it.      


8 comments:

  1. You're happy your kid turned up and played challenger baseball -- that showing up is worthy of a trophy?

    No, it's not. He turned up and tried. That's a bare bones minimum.

    There are kids on the spectrum who accomplish great, trophy-worthy things. Turning up to special kids softball certainly isn't!!

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    1. Nice to see that you had the courage to reply using your name Anonymous. I'd like to commend you for shi##ing on my family's parade, and our sense of joy. How foolish of us to think that celebrating what is obviously now just a less than minor accomplishment for my son was something that could be shared with others. You must be on the side of the debate that feels that in the good old days individuals received awards for the work they put in and not for "just showing up." I also remember in the good old days we were also taught if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all. But I digress. Yes my son "just showed up." And when he did he participated in an activity he was not comfortable with in an environment that was conducive to meltdowns and loss of focus, but he endured and participated to the best of "his" ability. The trophy in reality is insignificant. It is just a symbol of the hard work work the organizers put in to having this league set up so that our children and their parents can enjoy a sporting activity in a place of no stares or judgement. We have internet comment sections for that. Know what I mean Anonymous? So instead of celebrating only the children on the spectrum that do "great trophy worthy things", whatever that means, we can take time to appreciate those children that do great things just by being taken out of their comfort zone and being able to cope with that. And if that doesn't suffice then you could take the bare bones minimum approach to the comment section by keeping your comments to yourself.

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  2. I think it is a shame that you came on this mom's blog to leave such a mean comment. Was it really necessary to put her down for celebrating her son? If you really knew anything about people on the autism spectrum, you would know that they have varying abilities. We celebrate them all (the big and the small). My autistic son is just taking an interest in reading. Does that mean the parent of another autistic child reading above grade level has more of a right to celebrate? This mom has a right to celebrate what she wishes to celebrate for her son. This is what this league was about. This is what the creator of this league wanted. For all of our kids to have a place to be themselves.

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  3. Of course you would comment as "anonymous" but one thing you wouldn't do is have the audacity to say this to the face of a parent of an autistic child. You obviously have no knowledge about autism so feel free to go educate yourself and google what autism is and not just what it is but how it effects a child. Shame on you.

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  4. So proud of Norrin! I'm a parent who believes in pushing their kids to try because I won't stand for I can't and I won't! I love that Norrin gave it his best and that you watched right there next to him. A trophy is indeed a symbol of trying and I couldnt be more proud of Norrin's milestone!

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  5. To "anonymous" it's such a shame that you hide behind that word to voice your ignorant and negative remarks towards a child's milestone you obviously don't have an autistic child or know what they face everyday as a parent you want the best for your kid and all milestones should be celebrated go educate yourself and stop trying to steal the joy of other people

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  6. I also have children with autism. I know the effort that goes into just showing up, much less participating. So go back into the hell hole you came from Anonymous. Why don't you make yourself useful and volunteer with people with disabilities? Find out how much they deserve our admiration and encouragement. It's not about how high you get, but how far you go from where you start. Right now, Anonymous, you're moving backward.
    http://spectrumom.blogspot.com/2012/08/trophies-for-just-participating.html

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  7. YES, they trophy was well deserved. Why not?! Our angels came a long way, at first they did not want to play, stand on line to bat, to hit the ball, to run to the bases to actually wanting to play, ready on line to bat up, hitting the ball as best they as could, to running to the bases, being on the field catching the ball, throwing it to their fellow team mate. I am so proud of all of them, so proud I cried. Your comment has me really fired up and I will tell you off but you know what? You're not even worth it, I'm not stooping to your level. I will pray for you though...

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