Kaitlyn had her first T-ball practice yesterday. We were not sure what to expect at all, but having her friend Lindsay on the team was reassuring to us.
Amber had Kaitlyn all dressed and ready to go when I got home from work (although I did have to “train” Amber on how to put on Kaitlyn’s baseball pants. Hint: just like regular pants!). She was in her new pants and cleats, and had her glove on, not wanting to wait any longer than she already had.
We made it to the practice field in plenty of time, and waited on her friend Lindsay to arrive. Once she was there, we all walked toward the field like conquering warriors and introduced ourselves to the coach. He told us that they would work on fundamentals, which was a good thing because Kaitlyn has had trouble in the past with catching the ball, and sometimes with throwing. Other than that, she was good.
As the team lined up to get loose and play
chase catch, Kaitlyn and Lindsay paired up with each other. It was fun watching them throw to each other, and they seemed to be enjoying herself. Kaitlyn has already mastered the art of getting in front of the ball, and happily hit the dirt to stop the ball; of course, once Kaitlyn was on the ground, Lindsay had to come over and help her up and help her brush herself off. That’s what friends are for, right?
After throwing for a while, the team moved into infield drills. Kaitlyn was put at shortstop (or thereabouts). She did good fielding and throwing the ball to first, and actually cut-off a ball destined for another kid’s glove at one point. She was good at getting into a good fielding position, too. When it came to throwing, I could see where she was painstakingly making the effort to do exactly what the coaches had taught her earlier; it was not fluid, but we will get there.
When it was her turn to hit, Kaitlyn made sure to pay close attention to what the coach was telling her. I really have to find out the secret approach that her teacher, and now her coach, takes to getting her to listen because she generally tunes out whatever I try to say a majority of the time. She made solid contact on all three of her swings, and got to run the bases after her last hit. Hopefully they don’t enforce the whole “the runner has to actually touch the base” rule too strictly, because she did not seem all that interested in stepping on the bases at all. After a team trip around the bases, practice was finally over. As Kaitlyn was walking over toward the fence, I squatted down and asked her if she had fun, and she told me that she did. She told me that she was nervous that the other kids would make fun of her because she had never played before, so I told her not to worry about that at all. As I was giving her a hug, she told me that she tried hard and did her very best, and I told her how proud I was of her. We will work on some skills in the backyard this weekend, and there is one more practice before the games start. I don’t know if she will want to play after this season, and I really do not care; I just want her to enjoy herself and have fun. She is off to a wonderful start on that.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the relationship I have with Kaitlyn is that she has taken a real interest in running. She has, over the last two years or so, turned into my running buddy. She will run around the neighborhood with me on occasion, and has run in several local one mile races, plus one in Jacksonville. She gets upset at me when I dare enter a local race, or any race, and run it by myself.
This past Saturday was one we had circled on the calendar for a few months. This past Saturday, Kaitlyn ran in her first 5k (3.1 miles). The event was sponsored by her school and benefitted their Relay for Life program to help find a cure for cancer. I ran the 5k last year, and Kaitlyn did the one mile, and she was determined to run the 5k this year. It was all that she talked about all week, and she was happy to get out of bed around 6:30 Saturday morning.
Saturday’s time will not go down as a personal best for me in the 5k, but it will go down as the absolute most enjoyable 5k that I have ever run. Kaitlyn did a great job. She made it well over a mile before she had to walk for the first time, and really and truly ran like the wind; her little arms were just pumping the whole time. We finished with a time of 35:55, placing 231st and 232nd in the event; Kaitlyn even got a high-five from her teacher at the finish line.
There are no races on Kaitlyn’s schedule until the middle of March, so it will be a while before she gets to toe the line of a race. She’ll probably run one or two more before the end of school, which also happens to be the time that our local races take somewhat of a summer hiatus. For the fall, we are considering entering a 5k together at Disney, will surely do the Turkey Trot again, and I have already signed Kaitlyn up to join me in Columbus in November to run her final leg of the Soldier Marathon’s Kids Marathon.
I have come to realize that running is a really good metaphor for raising a child with Asperger’s. There are times where you run great, there are times when you run bad, but no matter what, just keep running. And of course, no matter if you have gone on a good run or a bad run, you will be very tired at the end of the day.
Thanksgiving was awesome. Anytime I get to spend a day in the middle of the week with Amber and Kaitlyn is a great day. We had quite the long day yesterday, but it was a really good day, and so I am thankful today for yesterday.
We were up bright and early (ok not so bright, but it was early) to get ready to head to our local Turkey Trot race. Just like last year, I had signed Kaitlyn up for the one mile Turkey Gobbler before I ran in a longer race (the 5k this year for me). It was not as cold before the start as last year, and Kaitlyn chose to wear shorts and short sleeve shirt, just like her dad (we are not crazy I tell you).
Overall, 942 runners ran the one mile race. Kaitlyn finished in 9:55, and like she always does, ran the entire time. She finished 124th, ahead of 818 other runners. That is very impressive.
I don’t know who enjoys her running more, me or her. It is something that the two of us can do together, and something we both enjoy. She has been asking to run a 5k soon, and we have one in our sights in January. I am not expecting her to cover all 3.1 miles of that race without stopping, but I will not be surprised if she does.
There are times when Kaitlyn does or says something that just melts my heart. Last weekend it was when she drew me a picture, that when I saw her drawing had assumed she was drawing for Amber, and she wrote “I Love You Daddy” across the top. She just left it on the counter for me, and did not say a word about it. I noticed it after she had already gone to bed. We have to savor the times when she is just being a 6-year-old because she is so often thinking, processing, and doing things that are way beyond her years, like tracking the election results Tuesday night.
Last night, and again this morning, was another one of those adorable times. I guess Kaitlyn had noticed that I had a stack of clothes laid out in our spare bedroom, and she was able to figure out that I was going out-of-town for a race. I figure Amber told her my destination. When I walked in the door from work, the first thing she asked me was if she could help me pack for my trip to Columbus. I told her that she absolutely could help me. She was and is pretty sad that she was not going to be coming with me to run in the Soldier Marathon (please, if you ever click a link on this blog, this one here would be the one. It details why I am running this particular race).
Kaitlyn was sweet enough to pack me a bag full of snacks for the trip. She packed me snacks that she knew I would like, and even shared some of the snacks that Amber usually takes to work or end up in Kaitlyn’s lunch box.
This morning, Kaitlyn was still pretty upset that I was leaving. I told her that I would see her tomorrow afternoon. The total time between when I left this morning and when I anticipate getting home tomorrow is 30 hours. It is awesome to me that she is going to really miss me for that time. Always a schemer, she asked me this morning that since I was going out-of-town today, would it be OK for her to open my Christmas presents. I told her that I would surely be home by Christmas, and if it were all the same to her, I would like to open my own presents.
I am going to miss Amber and Kaitlyn tonight, and I will miss not having my biggest fans at the race tomorrow, but I know they will be just fine without me tonight and will make it to tomorrow afternoon. I realized today, too, that Amber and Kaitlyn have not missed a half or full marathon that I have run in Florida, but have never been to one outside of the state (there is a half marathon that I have run a few times up in Boston, Georgia). Maybe I can get them to come along with me to this race next year, because I have a feeling that I am going to want to run it again.
Last week during the Seminole Showdown, I had a chance to catch up with the dad of another athlete. He has two sons that are just a pure joy to be around. As is the custom in our little college town, the topic of Seminole football came up. We talked about taking the kids to games, and how much Kaitlyn enjoyed going and how much his boys enjoy going.
Truth be told, Kaitlyn really starts to enjoy the game in the second half, but she is always keyed-in on a few different things. Anytime she hears the stadium announcer say that EJ Manuel or Dustin Hopkins has done something or is about to do something, she focuses her attention to the field. She absolutely loves them, and thinks of them as her friends (we have only met them a few times, but both remembered Kaitlyn, which made her day).
The other thing she cues on is the band. She loves the Marching Chiefs. More specifically, she loves when they play the fight song because she knows most of the words, and she gets to throw her hands up and yell “whoo!” at the end. She also thoroughly enjoys when they play the “Warchant.” As soon as she hears them start to play it, she makes sure Amber and I are doing “The Chop.” If for some reason we are not participating, she gives our arms a jump-start until she is satisfied that we are performing it up to her standards.
If that were all, I would happily say that we are raising her right (we are), but there is even more evidence to support it. She is now so well-schooled that she will boo or call it what it is (“gross”) when she sees anything with a UF logo on it. She will not even color with a blue crayon directly next to where she has already colored with an orange crayon.
Of all the things that Kaitlyn does to make us proud, I have to say that her love of the Seminoles ranks right near the top of the list.