The Crowd Went Wild
By Kimberley Troutte
Chlorine is in the air, my butt is stuck in a folding chair and my voice is hoarse from cheering. I am a swim team mom. You’ll find me on the pool deck in the afternoons rooting for the high school team.
The swimmers are amazing kids, all of them, but one is special. If you were to meet him, you’d see right away that there’s something different about Mikey. In a booming voice, he’ll ask you the same question over and over no matter how many times you answer it. He twists his fingers in interesting ways and occasionally will flap his arms. He doesn’t understand personal space and might rip your hat off your head to make sure there’s hair underneath. Mikey is autistic.
Watching Mikey swim is an adventure. I wouldn’t compare him to a dolphin or a fish of any kind. He doesn’t glide through the water, he attacks it. Sometimes, during a race he gets confused and slows until the crowd yells, “Go! Go! Mikey, don’t stop!”
Last week, Mikey competed in a long distance freestyle swim. He was a lawn mower in the pool. It wasn’t pretty, but man, was he fast! After twenty grueling laps, his fingers touched the wall first and the crowd roared.
When Mikey realized what he had done, he lifted his arms out of the water and yelled, “I’m a winner! I’m a winner!”
My heart melted. How many times had he said that in his lifetime? How many times had it been true?
It made me think. We all want to win races of one sort or another. (Bestseller’s list anyone?) But we also carry around heavy fears and massive doubts that sink us. It’s hard to swim with anchors tied around your waist. Mikey taught me to leave my fears on the blocks and dive in with everything I’ve got.
That’s the way to live. That’s the way to swim.
Kimberley Troutte (pronounced like the fish) lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, one dog, and three very large snakes. She has been a substitute teacher, caterer, financial analyst for a major defense contractor, real-estate broker, aerobics instructor, freelance writer and caregiver to creatures the kids/hubby/dog drag in.
She is the author of Catch Me in Castile and Soul Stealer (Samhain Publishing).
You can find her at http://www.kimberleytroutte.com/