I did it, but I am unsure about how I feel about having done it.
I played the MD card.
I have been a rock star mother this week, the last big week before school begins for us all. Yesterday was my son’s final physical therapy session for this round, and we celebrated at the community pool. Rain was forecast yesterday afternoon, but never quite materialized until the dinner hour. The threat must have been enough to keep most people away, and save for some day care field trip groups, we and about 30 other hale and hearty souls had the place to ourselves. My kid wanted to hit the lily pads and logs feature. It’s the dealio where cutesy, slick foam shapes are suspended from below, floating at the water’s surface. Above them is a rope or rope net to assist your trek across the cutesy floaty pathway through kiddie hell. The lifeguards told him he first had to pass the deep water swim test to get access. Now, he’s 5′ 6″ and the water was 3′ 6″, but whatever, safety first and all that. I get that the lifeguards have to contain the community at large, and have rules. I’m a good little rule follower when it comes to promoting not drowning.
He took the test and failed. The lifeguards told him he had to keep his legs and arms perfectly straight in the front crawl in order to pass. From the sidelines, I watched their pantomime to him, so I saw what they wanted him to do. He had to hold out another 20 minutes before they’d allow a re-test. Take two: failure two. I felt really proud of him for trying again, and though he failed, his perseverance moved me. He reported that if he failed a third time, he’d be out of luck for the day, and so decided to practice for his final attempt. I watched the lifeguards coaching him, giving pointers. They really seemed to be rooting for him. I approached poolside, ostensibly to cheer him on, and that was where I threw down the “my kid has muscular dystrophy” card. My son was halfway through his last trial lap, just enough out of earshot, when I told the two lifeguards that it was physically impossible for him to straighten out his arms and legs due to MD. They’d observed him swimming around for about 30 minutes now, so they knew what he was capable of. His front crawl ‘stroke’ is not pretty, nope, not pretty at all. He’d had his ass kicked at PT just before this, and had been swimming for a good time, so I knew fatigue was going to get the better of him soon. I just couldn’t stand to watch him hear “sorry, kid,” so I pulled out the “he has muscular dystrophy” card. I kinda wanted to puke.
The lifeguards conferred for a few moments, and I stood at the sidelines feeling like a jerk. At this point, I was pretty sure they weren’t going to say no. Saying no would make them feel like heels for not giving the kid a break, and who wants to pick on the uncoordinated kid with the disease, right? Victory. Sort of. My kid had a blast the rest of the day, and he didn’t know I’d crashed his party, but his little brother did. After gaining access to the deep end (not one part of this pool is over his head–and save it, I KNOW people can drown in a puddle), I went back to my chaise while the adrenaline drained. My little one followed me back and asked if I was crying because he’s super observant and obviously I was, Jackie O. shades and all, raining tears. I choked out, “MD sucks. I just hate this for your brother. I hate that this has to be so hard for him.”
“Me too, Mom. I hate it too.” He took my hand. I cried some more. End scene.