“I’m through accepting limits, ’cause someone says they’re so. Some things I cannot change, but till I try I’ll never know.”–Elphaba, Wicked
I have a son with disabilities and learning challenges, that’s true. But that has never stopped us from trying to help him be the best he can possibly be, to challenge his limits both mentally, physically and academically.
Over Spring Break this year, we took him ziplining in Roatan, Honduras. None of us had ever done it before, so it was a new experience for all of us. We didn’t know how my son (who has issues with balance and heights) would react to flying through the air over the jungle. We were prepared to deal with possible meltdowns and fear. And while he was a little scared at first, he learned quickly that he enjoyed soaring like Superman and quickly became almost an old pro at it. We enjoyed it so much that we went ziplining again in September for my birthday, this time in Wimberly, down in the Texas hill country which is so beautiful in the fall. My son has learned that ziplining is something he can do fairly easily despite his limitations and they barely needed to show him how to break and self-rescue (which is where you turn sideways and pull yourself hand over hand to the end of the run, should you not make it for whatever reason) because he was like, “Yeah. I got this. No duh.”
Growing up, I had an uncle who was nicknamed Boo who was disabled. He’d lost both his legs below the knee thanks to a landmine in Viet Nam during the war. Maybe he was bitter about going from a healthy, active young man to a wheelchair bound vet. I don’t know. But what I do know is that he never ever let being in a wheelchair stop him from doing what he really wanted to do. And he taught me that no matter what’s going on in your life, whatever your disability is, you shouldn’t let it stop you from doing something.
That’s the attitude we’ve always had with our son also. We do the things we do, have the adventures we do, because we want to push him just a little bit to get outside his normal comfort zone. He has limits, but he doesn’t have to accept them. We’ve taught him to stretch those boundaries because we don’t want him to go “I can’t do (insert thing here) because of (insert disability here).” Ever.
We’re not trying to toughen him up or “make a man” out of him. We just want him to be able to live life as fully as is possible for somebody like himself who already has so many cards stacked against him.
Because maybe, just maybe, if he pushes himself enough…he’ll be able to defy a little bit of gravity.