The girls’ school holds a Field Day every year on the last Friday of the school year. Since they only have school until Thursday this week, Field Day was last Friday.
Field Day is an afternoon of fun for grades kindergarten through fourth. Parents volunteer and man thirteen stations of games out in the field behind the school.
I did not volunteer to run one of the stations. First, because I didn’t want to. That’s the most important reason. The second reason is that I go to Field Day to spend the afternoon with Olivia, not explaining a game fourteen times to kids who probably won’t listen. I volunteer at every single party each year. I even serve as Party Planner for at least one of those parties, sometimes two of them. So I don’t feel bad for not volunteering at this event. Instead, I follow whatever group Olivia is in from station to station.
When I first arrived, before she saw me, I had a chance to watch Olivia interact with her peers. Their first event involved water, and this thrilled the kids to no end. Olivia was right in there, taking her turn, running with a cup of water from one bucket to the other, giggling with her peers as they splashed each other.
I stood with her teacher in wonder, amazed at this girl who is growing so fast. She was amazing.
Then she saw me, ran over to give me a soggy hug and then returned to her group.
I followed them from station to station, often separating a couple of the boys who were being especially obnoxious. At every single station, Olivia tried so hard to complete the tasks. Her teammates were so sweet and supportive. She was so happy to be outside, playing with her peers, doing something other than classwork. I was grateful to get to watch (even as I was refereeing the boys, OMG THE BOYS!)
Near the end of Field Day, we came to the baseball throw. They’d set up nets and the kids were separated into two groups. In each group, the kids took turns throwing a baseball into the net. If it landed in the bottom of the net, it counted. The first team to use all the baseballs in their bucket won and then they’d all do it again.
The first several balls Olivia threw were duds. They barely made it to the net, let along landed in the bottom of it. But she kept trying and finally, FINALLY, she made it. And her team went wild. There was much high-fiving and clapping. She was so proud. I was so proud I might have had to wipe away a tear. These are kids she’d been with for three years and they know her. They know she won’t talk to them but she will laugh with them, she’ll play alongside them and maybe they get that she works twice as hard as they do to do what they do. Maybe. Who knows? All I know is that it was so awesome to see her accomplish something and see her peers congratulate her for it.
A few stations done from the baseball station was a tic tac toe station. The kids were using yellow and oranges shirts for their Xs and Os. Olivia was a little confused about what was expected of her. I started to work my way to the front of the line to explain it to her but stopped when I realized I was not needed.
Grant, a boy in her class, had taken it upon himself to ‘coach’ her. When it was Olivia’s turn, he’d tell her where to put her yellow shirt. Then he’d stand at the front of the line and yell to her down the lane at the ‘tic tac toe’ grid and encourage her, changing their tactics if the space he’d told her to take was taken by their opponents. Then, when she got back to the starting line he’d tell her, “Good job.”
It was the sweetest, cutest moment. We’re right where we belong right when we belong. And we’re beyond blessed/lucky to be here.