Sometimes, I wish that it hadn't taken having a child with disabilities for me to understand that you can be disabled and live a good, full, happy life.
Sometimes, I wish I'd understood before I had Max that children and adults with disability do not deserve pity; what they need is parity.
Sometimes, I wish I had been able to see the abilities.
For too many years, I didn't get it. That, I regret. And I likely never would have, if it weren't for Max. For that, I'm grateful.
I was pondering this as Dave and I sat in the audience of a coffee house for people of all abilities, with students from three different schools performing. Max had been enthusiastically practicing for weeks.
One boy did stand-up comedy and brought the house down. A guy sang "Hotel California" and "My Sweet Lord," accompanied on guitar by his music therapist. Another guy sang Fight Song as he played guitar. A girl did a beautiful "Ave Maria" on the violin. A girl and a boy from Max's class sang "What a Wonderful World."
It was a really entertaining evening. Everyone did a great job, period—not a great job "despite" their disability. Over the years, I have heard that word "despite" far too often. It's derogatory. Yet another thing Max has taught me is to see and appreciate the can-dos, not the can'ts.
Max sang "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," complete with hand motions. I don't think he could have looked any more joyful doing it. I don't think I could have smiled any bigger as I watched him, or been any more proud.