Last weekend, Sabrina saw a commercial for Soul Surfer and kept asking to watch it. The movie's about Bethany Hamilton, a pro surfer who lost an arm to a shark attack at age 13. I thought Sabrina was maybe a little young to see it, but I got it from Netflix because the lessons of overcoming physical hardships and doing things to the best of your abilities are good ones for her. We watched the movie together (two thumbs up!) and afterward we talked about how someone with a disability can be a great athlete. "You mean Max can go surfing?" she asked. "Maybe he will," I said, "especially if they come out with a Cars 2 surfboard!"
As I watched people cheer on Bethany, it occurred to me—as it has many times over the years—just how critical determination can be for people with disabilities. Despite the physical challenges Max has, with determination he has sometimes overcome them or compensated for them or, more often, figured out ways around them.
Max is blessed with an abundance of determination, something I've known since he was a tot and his chubby little hands struggled to grasp a toy. But he'd keep right on trying, finally getting ahold of whatever it was and clinging to it for dear life. When Max decided he needed to get around, he did it in the only way he could: commando crawling like a soldier, pulling himself along on the ground using his arms and legs. And man, he was fast. "You training him for war?" people would joke. It was a wonder to see.
Max's arms and legs needed to get stronger for him to crawl on his hands and knees; that happened when he turned 2. Getting a walker helped him learn to walk, but it was his spirit that propelled him. Max took his first steps at 3, and he's been going, going, going ever since.
In recent years, Max has determinedly learned how to use an iPad, ride a bike, read words and torture his sister. The other day, when we ordered in Chinese food, Max decided to try chopsticks. They weren't even the kiddie kind, attached at the top. You know how hard it is to grasp chopsticks, even if you're a fully functioning adult. Now imagine a kid with cerebral palsy who has serious fine-motor-skill challenges trying to use them.
But Max tried, tried, then tried again.