Last Thursday, Kaitlyn had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the many opportunities that await her in middle school next year. For Amber and I, it is a little hard to imagine that our little girl will be starting 6th grade in just a few months. Where has the time gone?
It seems like it was just yesterday that we were taking her in the day before kindergarten orientation so she could get comfortable with her new surroundings. From that day, we knew that Kaitlyn was in a great school, and we see that every day. Now, in just a few shorts months, we will have a middle schooler in the house. Wow!
Kaitlyn was looking forward to seeing what was in store for her starting in August, though she already sort of knew what electives she wanted to take.
She took the opportunity to visit each area to see what the expectations for each class were, and what kinds of extracurricular activities and clubs were offered. (Amber got a comments the next day from several of the teachers about how focused, polite, and determined Kaitlyn was, and how she was one of the few students to come through who knew exactly what they wanted to do.)
Knowing that she will have her work cut out for her in her core advanced/gifted classes next year, Kaitlyn decided that she would enroll in electives that will challenge her, but will allow her the chance to turn off the academic part of her brain for a few minutes.
In addition to her school work, Kaitlyn is determined to run cross-country next year, and she knows that she has her work cut out for her. The cross-country team at the middle school won the city championship this past year and is stout each season.
Kaitlyn has also targeted at least two academic clubs that she wants to participate in, and both are math-related. She wants to continue with math competitions, and also join the school’s Beta Club, which is by invitation only to students who maintain a near perfect GPA.
While Amber and I are not looking forward to 5th grade ending in just a few months, we are really excited for what the future holds for Kaitlyn. We know that she has a goal for what she wants to accomplish in life and nothing will stand in her way, and we know that she will work hard to achieve any goal she sets.
This year, however, Opening Day is even more special because it happens to also be the same day as Kaitlyn’s first baseball game of the season.
Last year, she played T-ball for the first time. She did pretty good, and seemed to enjoy herself a lot, despite being one of two girls on the team (I may be biased here, but the girls were probably two of the three or four best players on the team).
This year, Kaitlyn has moved up to coach pitch, which is exactly what the name would have you think it is. The coaches pitch to the hitters.
We started practicing in February, and Kaitlyn has gotten better with each practice. Her coach, who we specifically requested since we are friends with him and Kaitlyn is friends with his son, is patient with her and with all the kids. The kids seem to really enjoy being out there, and seem to be having a good time so far. Their main focus is on having fun and getting better, and they are certainly doing both.
Since the spring, Kaitlyn has been talking about wanting to play soccer. We missed the cutoff last year by a few weeks, and she made sure to remind us plenty this year so that we got her signed up. We coordinated with her friend Lindsay’s parents to ensure that they would be on the same team like they were for T-ball, and signed her up. The website informed us that we would be getting a call from her coach sometime around Thanksgiving, so we waited for the call. And we waited.
Last week, Amber got an email from a league representative about a parent meeting for our team, the Rugrats, Wednesday evening. Kaitlyn decided that she didn’t want to go, so the two of us hung out for a little bit (and it’s probably a good thing). Amber dutifully showed up to the soccer complex for the meeting, only to see other teams already practicing. Interesting. Other than the fact the meeting was being held at the complex, Amber had no idea exactly where at the complex. She ran into a dad who was having the same problem, so they wandered around together, looking for the meeting; by this time, Lindsay’s dad decided that he would just get the info from Amber since he was not about to play hide-and-seek with the meeting (good call on his part).
As it turns out, it is a really good thing I did not attend the meeting, because, as Amber pointed out, Kaitlyn may not have been playing soccer. Apparently, the team was just formed the day of the e-mail, and only because one of the parents called to inquire about the status of her daughter since her son’s team was already practicing. On top of that, our team had no coach. Wonderful. Luckily, the lost dad that Amber wandered around with volunteered for duty.
I am not holding out hope that this soccer league will be any more well-run than the T-ball league was this past spring. What is important is that Kaitlyn has fun, and her first practice was a success. As a cruel joke (somewhat), we are slated for Friday evening practices until games start. Of course, we have no idea when those start, either, but my best guess would be sometime in January. If the formation of the Rugrats is any indication, our first game will be some other team’s third game, and we will only know about it after a parent calls to inquire about our schedule. I just love disorganization!
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.