Semi; My Son

It was a few years ago that I witnessed something remarkable, a lesson from life in which my child was the teacher. My son Justin is a unique young man, and as a mother I always knew this. When Justin was born he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his little neck. At the time we didn't realize just exactly how that affected him, but over the years watching him reach his developmental milestones achingly slow, we realized that his birth did in fact alter his life's destination.

After many visits to many specialist Justin was diagnosed as having a very mild form of cerebral palsy. It was a shock to my system to hear that diagnosis. "Not my son! He can walk! He doesn't look it!" The diagnosis lead to a quick and in depth lesson on what cerebral palsy is, and all the different forms it can take.

Now when most people look at Justin they see strong young man. Tall for his age and fully able. What they don't see is his low muscle tone, and his poor coordination. They don't notice the slight outward turn of his feet, nor can they see his learning disabilities, and central auditory processing disorder. It's only after talking with Justin, and watching him for a bit that one will notice what makes him unique. I cannot even begin to count the number of puzzled looks we've received once this dawns on people.

Justin, like many children, was often subjected to bullying at school and on the playground from other children. In their eyes he was an easy target. It always broke my heart when this would happen, and all I wanted to do was pull him close to me and protect him.

That is why when he wanted to join a tag football team I was so nervous. I knew it would be difficult for him. I knew he wouldn't be able to keep up, and I knew the other kids would make fun of him. Against my better judgment, and at his constant urging, I went ahead and signed the permission slip.

Justin was so proud of being part of the team, and never missed a practice. I would watch from the sidelines as he awkwardly ran down the field....often times appearing lost at what he should do. I could see the other boys snickering at times, whispering to each other and knowing they were laughing at Justin. Every time it took all I had in me not to pull him off the field and take him home to protect him from others.

The coaches would run through drills with the boys, and Justin never quite got the hang of the "tag" part of football, as he ran his coaches down. It didn't take long for him to get the name "Semi."

The end of the season came, and the coaches treated the boys to a bowling party where trophies were awarded to the best players. Justin was so excited to go to the party even though he knew he most likely wouldn't get a trophy for being the best.

The kids bowled a few games, and ate their pizza. It was at the end of the party, with the parents watching, that the coaches awarded trophies to the boys. Justin received a participant trophy as did all the other boys. Then came the special trophies for the players that had the best skills. I watched my son applaud loudly for each boy as their name was called. He was genuinely excited and happy for each player who received a trophy.

It was the end of the ceremony when the coach told the boys and parents that there was one more trophy to hand out. The coach told them how this one was the most important one of all. He then spoke how the player receiving it was an example to every person present. He said this player taught everyone on the team, including the coaches, what "drive and determination" was all about, and what "never giving up" truly means. It was then when he said "Semi get up here!"

Tears rolled down my face. My youngest son who was 5 at the time looked up to me and said, "That's my brother!" The other boys on the team stood up and cheered as my son, Semi, went up for his trophy. Among the adults in the room, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Still to this day when I think back to that moment in time, tears of pride run down my face. My son, Semi, not only taught his team members a lesson in life, but he also taught me one.....

Yes, I am very a proud mother, and I know that my son, Semi, will run into barriers in life but I am assured he will plow them down as long as I believe in him as much as he believes in himself.


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