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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


The Crowd Went Wild
By Kimberley Troutte

Ah, Spring.

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).


Sarita said...

What a great post! A lovely way to begin the day, thanks.

Maria said...

Fantastic post Kimberley! My nephew is autistic and it's such a huge accomplishment when he completes a task...and he loves to very true that we
"normal" people can learn lessons from those who face daily challenges just to exist in a world they don't understand and which often times doesn't understand them.


Rebekah E. said...

I can't wait for it to warm up enough to swim. Still to cold outside for that.


Kimberley Troutte said...

Thank you for commenting, ladies.

Sarita: glad you enjoyed it.

Maria: I agree completely. Bless you and your nephew.

Rebekah: I hear you. I'm a big chicken who hates cold water.

R.B. Michaels said...

As the father of an autistic girl, I find this really inspiring. For Aeriel, it's dance. She LOVES to dance. She's not always really good at it, but she really tries and enjoys it so much.

Kimberley Troutte said...

Aww, R.B. That's wonderful. I bet she's beautiful. Enjoy Aeriel and the dancing! Take lots of videos.

Jean P said...

What a great post. I think we all forget to live life like that.

skpetal at hotmail dot com

Kimberley Troutte said...

agreed. And we can all learn from each other.

Rylee Myst said...

What an awesome and inspiring story. I agree with an earlier comment that we "normal" people could learn something from these individuals. I'm blessed to have two such special people in my with autism and one with aspergers (autism spectrum disorder)

Kimberley Troutte said...

I am sure these special people are blessed as well to have you!

Deborah Blake said...

Kimberley--This was amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. Last week, I got to see a young man I helped raised as a child (when I was with his father for many years). He is now 30, and I hadn't seen him since he was a young teen. He has Asbergers, and is clearly "Not like everyone else." It made no difference whatesoever--I was just so happy to see him again.

And I know you'll end up on that bestseller list eventually!

You fellow chicklitter,

Kimberley Troutte said...

thanks for coming by.
How wonderful that young man had you to love him!

jeff7salter said...

First things first: you have three pet snakes? Yikes.
Loved your story about this kid. Just the other day I read something else about a H.S. boy with autism who excelled at track. But he was denied participation this year because he was technically enrolled in an additional year even though he didn't attend any classes or any extra-curricular activities.
Like this swimmer, the only place he had excelled (as viewed by the 'regular' folks, anyway) was in track. and that was being taken away from him.
Please enter me in the drawing.

Kimberley Troutte said...

Wow, Jeff, that is sad. Maybe the boy's folks can find some other place where he can run and compete.

And yes about the snakes. I don't really love them, and I doubt they love me. We sort of co-habitate and stay out of each other's way. ;-)

Thanks for commenting.

Judy said...

I really enjoyed your post. Way to go Mikey, happy for him!!! No snakes in this family, either they would go or I would have to:) Scared of them, always have been.
Your book looks very good.


R.A. Morelock said...

What an awe-inspiring story. "I'm a winner." Shouldn't we all be able to say that every day and shout for joy at it with the abandon of this child?

How often we forget our own blessings and our own accomplishments because someone has done something bigger or better; yet our accomplishment is no less thrilling or important.

That's what I love about watching kids and watching people like Mickey who face their own unique challenges -- every once in awhile you can see into their own unique viewpoint and you come away changed.

Good for him!!!! And how awesome to see a community rally around him and support him.

We need more people like that too!

April Morelock

chey said...

Fantastic post! Happy Spring!
chey127 at hotmail dot com

Tonya Kappes said...

Wow! What an inspirational story. I love his attitude and spirit. If we could only bottle a little bit of that for each of us.

angel Graham said...

You have made me cry. This is a very hard thing to do. Mikey IS a WINNER!

booklover0226 said...

What a truly inspirational story. I thank we all could use a Mikey in our lives.

Thanks for sharing.

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Kimberley Troutte said...

I am so pleased that you all found Mikey as inspiring as I did.
He is a winner!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Love this story! I always cheer for the underdog :)

Kimberley Troutte said...

Thank you, Sherrie. me too. I love underdog stories.

Lori W. said...

Wonderful post! I love the images of him tearing up that pool like a lawnmower and shouting, "I'm a winner!"

Yes, underdog stories are awesome because at some point in life, each of us in an underdog.

C.C. Wiley said...

Awesome and inspiring post, Kimberely. You made me smile.

Love it!

Kimberley Troutte said...

Lori: I admit to tearing up a bit when he yelled "I'm a winner."
Okay, maybe more than a bit.

C.C.: Always glad to make you smile.

Thanks for coming by.

Grace Draven said...

What a fabulous story. Yay, Mikey! As a mother of an autistic son, I hold tales like these close to the heart. They remind me of the wonderful soul that looks out at me from my son's eyes.

Thank you for posting this!

Grace Draven

Kimberley Troutte said...

Aww, Grace, that's beautiful. I wish you and your son the best.

Virginia said...

Great post. You know I have never been to a swim meet but I think it would be fun to watch. Your books sounds fabulous.


Anonymous said...

This is a good thing to remember, people can succeed in different ways. You don't always have to be the most graceful, or have the best coach or have the best technique, sometimes just sheer energy and enthusiam will take you far.


Robin said...

That's a great story!

Robin D

Terra Pennington said...

Love your interview and have added "Catch Me in Castile to my Mothers day wish list.

Love spring and a good book to read on those clear fresh afternoons.


Kimberley Troutte said...

Wow, look at all the comments! You guys rock!

Viginia: swim meets are exciting. Lots of action and pretty fast. My boy swims tomorrow, so I'll be out there again.

Gwen: perfectly said. I like the idea that people of all shapes, sizes and talent can succeed at something. Joy and love are great motivators.

Robin: Thank you.

Terra: I appreciate that a lot. I hope you get that Mother's Day gift and enjoy it :-).

To all of you: thank you for making my day here a wonderful one. I hope you all jump into life with both feet and swim as hard as you can.

Jesi O'Connell said...

Wow, inspiring. If only we could hear more such stories in our often confusing, conflicting, scary world!

Kimberley Troutte said...

thank you. I am grateful that you appreciated it.

Anna Small said...

Great post, Kimberley! My best friend's son is autistic and his triumphs are ones that most parents and kids take for granted. Your cover is lovely, too!

Kimberley Troutte said...

Thank you, Anna.

It must be incredibly difficult and vastly rewarding to help a child with difficulties achive a measure of success. Goals and achievements are different for every child. Triumphs should be praised and nurtured no matter what.

And let me just add that those individuals who have devoted their lives in Special Education are true saints.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Aww! I don't know when the last time was i went swimming in a pool. Now i want to