“You called my name?” asked Dylan with great excitement.
“Yes, I did!” I called back, hoping to match that excitement.
Then again, “You called my name?”
And again, “Yes, I did!”
“You picked me?”
“Yes, I did!”
“You called my name?”
“Yes, I did!” (Continue this for the next five minutes.)
That was a conversation I had with one of the athletes at the Tri-Valley Regional Games for Special Olympics. I was working the “Bullpen” which was a staging area where the athletes gathered prior to competing in an event. It was Dylan’s turn because his name was on my list.
Dylan has what we would consider to be intellectual disabilities. He can’t process things like I can, or like many of my friends. He has some physical disabilities as well, in that he can’t move with the kind of ease that I have, or many of my friends.
I most likely learned a thousand lessons that Saturday, many of which will come to me as I continue to think about them. Or maybe they will remain at the subconscious level. This time I got to learn from Dylan.
I live, as many do, in a world of insecurities. There is the constant internal struggle of not being good enough. Or fitting in to whatever social sector makes me feel decent enough of myself to come close to having a feeling of acceptance and love. School really didn’t help with this very much, though I hope it is better than when I was younger. We had to pick teams. The captains had to assess who would be the best to help her/his team win whatever the given competition of the day was, be it physical such as a kickball game, or mental such as a history competition or a spelling bee. I didn’t care about being picked first…just not last. Please, not last.
Dylan would have been picked last in any of my classes. This is not an indictment on my schooling by any stretch. It is just what would have happened. Kickball, for example. Dylan’s body and mind would not be able to process the ball coming his way fast enough to kick it into even the shallow part of the infield. His name wouldn’t have been called first. It would have been the very last. To be honest, if I were the captain I wouldn’t have called his name until I absolutely had no choice. That win for me would have been the prominent goal. Same with a spelling competition.
So there I was with my list on Saturday. The easy-ups were loaded with athletes waiting to compete. I looked and saw his name.
I saw the movement of someone standing. Fast. I looked and saw eyes beaming with light, with delight, with joy. “You called my name???”
During that conversation all of those memories and thoughts flooded through me. Choosing. Being chosen. Picking teams. Being picked. Acceptance. A lack of acceptance. And as our conversation continued, my excitement grew. I called his name! I did! I picked him! I “chose” Dylan! What an honor…for me!!!
And here is what I realize: He would have chosen me. And my name wouldn’t have had to be on a list. I really believe Dylan would have called my name and picked me. And for that I am extremely honored and grateful.