I don’t know what to do

This commercial got my attention. Watch the little boy at the 20 second mark very closely…

Amazing, isn’t he? I’d seen that commercial four or five times before I noticed his remarkable ability. Later on we were watching the swimming and gymnastics and there were a few fifteen-year-old kids competing, and winning in London. I did the math and told Jeni that Jackson had a lot of work to do to be on Team USA for 2020. I asked Jackson, “Do you want to swim a few hours a day for the next eight years and see if you can make the Olympics?” I didn’t know what to say to Caedmon.

He’s the biggest TEAM USA fan, other than a parent, I’ve come across. We’ve watched water polo, women’s field hockey, indoor and outdoor volleyball, archery, lots of swimming, gymnastics, soccer, and a brief glimpse of shooting. He even opted out of a trip to the pool to watch the Americans compete.

As I fought against his ever tightening tendons and hyper sensitive leg muscles to get him in his pajamas tonight, my mind went back to the boy in the commercial. I decided it would be far better to lose a limb that have Cerebral Palsy. That little boy could find a way because the rest of his body works just fine. Caedmon’s disobedient, frail body is why I didn’t have a “you can do it!” speech for him to match Jackson’s. Tonight, I was mad at Cerebral Palsy.

Would it be salt on a wound to tell him he could make the 2020 games? While I know the odds are overwhelmingly against any of my boys donning Olympic gold, I wouldn’t discourage them from dreaming. But it’s different with Caedmon, at least I think it is. It’s not as simply as flicking the glove from his weakened arm so his strong one can make the throw. Even the Armless Archer has the benefit of an able torso and extremely high dexterity in his legs. Caedmon’s got fantastic enthusiasm, an unbreakable spirit, and infectious joy but his body simply doesn’t work like the guys and girls he’s cheering in London. I don’t know what to do.

Do I offer false hope? Do I take his fragile dreams, assuming he has those dreams, and drop them on the marble floor of reality? Should I push his brothers to be champions so Caedmon has someone he dearly loves to root for? Do I keep encouraging him to be an active spectator? Am I too pessimistic for thinking he won’t be like the boy in the commercial? Should it even matter?

Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but Caedmon loves sports. He yearns for the pageantry – marching bands, national anthems, roaring crowds, and proud

Go Pack Go!

parents. He relishes victory and mourns defeat. Rivals make the games all the more enjoyable for him. He’s abandoned my Braves for his aunt’s Cubs; forgot my Falcons for his grandpa’s Steelers before betraying Pittsburgh for his uncle’s Packers. His favorites are when his team is battling mine or his Pa-G’s. Thankfully, everyone he knows roots for the ‘Noles, otherwise there might be a little boy sleeping in the garage. Perhaps vicarious participation is more than enough for him, but he’s got to wonder, doesn’t he? Should I ask him? I don’t know what to do.

Sorry for having no answers in this post. I apologize for offering no inspiration or encouragement. But I’m at a loss with this one, and have been for some time. I don’t want any of my boys to be happy; I want them to be fulfilled from doing what they’re made to do. At the same time, I want them never afraid to take off for the second star to the right and straight on till morning. I don’t know what to do.

(I found this in my inbox right after I posted my article, “A Double Amputee Proclaims, ‘I Do Not run Aimlessly.’” Me of little faith I guess.)


  1. Thank you for sharing your humanity and what all parents of kids with disabilities feel at some point or another. As my other teens are making preparations , to save for a car, for driving, for college and career choices, etc, I can’t help but feel sad or angry at times that my middle daughter can’t have the same dreams and aspirations. With God’s grace, she will have simpler aspirations for I’m reminded that God’s calling for her life is different.

  2. Just because we’re parents doesn’t mean we have all the answers. God made all of us different. With different dreams, wishes, and goals. Maybe Caedmon’s dream isn’t to be in the Olympics, but simply at the Olympics. What better than for a hugh USA fan to be able to cheer his country on in person! Just keep on praying. God will reveal you the answers and give you a vision of Caedmon’s dreams through his eyes…not what we think they might be through our eyes.

  3. No simple answers here Ryan. God knows your heart and he knows Cademon’s as well. God will give him the grace to accept his limitations. I encourage you to give him the confidence to push those limits (and I think you are doing that). I think it may be harder for you as a determined “able bodied” person to see all that he can’t do, but from the outside looking in I see you doing so much more to help him push those limits. Does pushing those limits sometimes require assistance? Sure it does, I remember thinking as I watched the recent water slide video how many fathers of a kid with CP would let their child go down that slide. My answer was probably not many. That was pushing his limits, but it allowed him to be part of the fun not just an observer! You give him so many opportunities to play an active role instead of sitting in his chair watching the world go by. I would encourage you to continue to do as you are involving Cademon in the events that you can and enjoy watching with him the ones he can’t be involved in physically. Again…..no simple answers here.

  4. His special abilities may not be in sports…look at Stephen Hawking. However, it may not be in the sciences either. I am not a athlete nor a science expert and I am loved in the this universe.

  5. Ryan,
    Ryan & I have had several of these moments where it just isn’t right. Nate being the oldest of our boys and having to be left out because he cannot handle basic stuff. He has changed what we consider “normal” and has made us have to keep thinking outside the box. We have learned to enjoy his love for flushing toilets, watching different AC units and going to his favorite store Home Depot to look at all the fans.

    What I think is more rare and precious than receiving a gold medal is receiving love and acceptance. I know I tend to forget how rare it is to be raised in a Godly home where you are fully loved. We are all stuck in these damaged and broken earth suits for just a short period of time, thank God! I believe that the lives of Caedmon and Nathaniel are already accomplishing more than any gold medalist ever could. I know that my life has been changed for the better. That right there should earn him a gold metal. 🙂

  6. Ryan, catching up on my blog post reading. It’s very possible that Caedemon may follow in is father’s footsteps and be a great writer! You and your family are an inspiration!

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