My son who is autistic wrestles in high school because he doesn’t mind pain. My other kids would cry when they stubbed their toes playing in the yard, but this son of mine, more than once came to me with gaping wounds needing stitches and hardly a tear in his eye.
Now he has a long, inflexible body, paired with a will to survive, if not to win, and watching him endure can be nearly intolerable to me. On the wrestling mat, so many of the larger dramas of his life play out in microcosm, the struggle to know where his arms and legs are at all times and to maneuver them deftly, the challenge to look two or three steps ahead of where he is, planning accordingly to get there, and so much self-defense.
I’ve often worried about the effects of compounding his difficulties by living them both in life, and again in the metaphor of sport. But he is eager to do it.
I took the smaller kids last night to watch a meet, and there’s always some hot dog wrestler who gets up to wrestle weighing 160 or something, relatively brawny but lean, and his opponent, usually from our team, clearly weighs the same but in unequal distributions. For instance their hot dog wrestler is shaped like an inverted triangle, and our wrestler is shaped like a hot dog, in a bun.
The match ends in a swift pin, the referee slaps the mat, and then the inverted triangle hot dog hops up, while simultaneously pulling on his singlet to clear a wedgie, pumping a fist upward in victory.
I don’t know if it’s just because I have not experienced what it is like to mother what many would term “a champion,” but the display makes me want to get up from the bleachers, dripping children though I may be, make my way to the mat, and punch the kid in the face. [Read more…]