Joe’s brilliant mom surprised him with his new favorite thing tonight – a wireless disco light and speaker. We’ll get video next time, because Joe was in awe of the light itself and on the walls and ceiling. He’s so great.
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We had a terrific weekend – museum, picnic, running, swimming and finally a couple of games of bowling. Not much to say because I’m tired (from the terrific weekend), but thanks as always to Tracy and the greater Lowery family for all you do through Special Olympics and by just being good people.
And welcome to the team, Jordan! There’s always room for a home-girl, the South needs more Western New Yorkers.
Joe has decided to skip the 2016 Rio games. He made the decision a couple of weeks ago, just before the Virginia Special Olympics at the University of Richmond. It was partly the whole Zinka thing (makes his nose look funny), but mostly it was the lack of competition now that the Russians are out. He’s been waiting for this moment since he saw Rocky IV, and embarrassing all the Usain Phelps in the world won’t give him the same gut-level satisfaction as kickin’ some drugged-out commie ass. Joe gets so angry sometimes.
But we did go to the Virginia games, thank goodness, as it calmed him down a lot. He quickly compartmentalized those nesting-doll-loving pinkos and laser-focused on his four events.
First was the 25-meter dash, where he ran triumphantly! The crowd on their feet. A tear on Vangelis’ cheek as we collectively realized the majesty we were witnessing. It’s not slow motion …
Joe is actually running that fast!
Next, the two-person tennis ball toss, where Joe and his throwing coach Carleigh put some stank on it and almost cleared an unmeasured distance of grass. It went so far! Poetry in motion, as ol’ Johnny Tillotson used to say.
Then the team of Mama-Joe-Carleigh combined for the double-assisted-lift standing long jump, rocketing Joe to a personal best. Mama Joe Carleigh would also be my name if I was a drag queen who specialized in country music. Is that a thing? Just googled it, and sure enough!
Joe focused his real energy on the unsanctioned event he’s dominated since getting into the game – making friends with random folks, mostly the ladies. Like this first place effort …
These former strangers followed Joe from the field to the awards, offering to babysit, asking for photos, and making all the college boys that much more insecure. How did this tiny man, with mismatched teeth and a balding dad, snag this caliber of women … without even saying a word? Because you smell like Axe and you trying to hard.
Not Joe, I just like this photo. The streak of a lone athlete as he celebrates personal victory. Faceless every-man spectators, maybe coaches, watch with awe and love as he passes. That’s Special Olympics.
Just over eight years ago, I was hoping Joe – more than a week late already – would be born on June 6. He’d have the coolest nickname, D-Day, this side of Faber College. In true Joe fashion he came along a few days later. Once when Lia was pregnant the doctor was doing an ultrasound, and said to finish we just had to wait for the baby to move. We waited. And waited. Even then, as an expectant dad, I don’t think I was nervous, but rather amused and annoyed. I never liked to be told what to do either. He eventually shrugged, we did too, then we all went home.
Joe used to lay on the floor wherever you put him. Just lay there and look around. That was our first clue that something was up, but it was also when the calm started to creep into our house.
The first time Joe really fed himself, the time it took to move one piece of food from plate to mouth felt like an hour. We applauded. He turns eight today, and seeing him stand up from sitting on the floor is still like seeing a unicorn. Pack a lunch if you’re accompanying him up a flight of stairs.
I mean all of this in a most positive way, because I know he’s only slow because the alternative is fast, and either way he’s happy. We’ve seen him gobble food, sprint (relatively) up steps, and chase after certain toys. He can totally do all of these things, but his motivation isn’t to get somewhere, it’s to be somewhere. And “oh hey, look … I’m already here.”
When you’ve got a kid like Joe, you spend a lot of time trying to speed him up to match your pace, and you fail. Your Hobsonesque choice is to slow yourself down. Talk about an egg in your beer! For the past eight years we’ve been forced to take it easy.
Lia and I went to dinner the other night. It was just the two of us, but when the hostess asked for a name I said Joe. She said “that’s simple enough,” and Lia and I smiled. Because it is.
Happy birthday Joe – how did eight years go so fast?
For the third straight May, Joe has joined a bunch of other kids, teachers and friends for a Little Feet Meet – a junior Special Olympics field day. Read past entries at Little Feet 2014 and Little Feet 2015. Not much to add for this year, except a big thanks to everyone who planned the event, volunteered or showed up to cheer. And special thanks to Ms. Pond and Tyler for the hands-on help getting Joe around to all the games. There’s a full set of photos (includes other kids even!) on Flickr.
Next month Joe turns eight, which means he can start registering for real Special Olympic events. This is going to be fun.
I’ve been slacking on this blog lately, but have been keeping up a new Instagram feed for Joe. Check him out, follow him, or bookmark his feed for more regular photos.
www.instagram.com/joevanderlay/ or just @joevanderlay if you’re already on Instagram.
For those who aren’t Instagrammers (looking at you Joe’s grandparents), you can go there from a regular computer or a smartphone. The posts are much simpler, basically just the “best of” photos. I’ll still post here, too, for the more interesting things.
Tussing Elementary First Grade Concert 2016 … SCREAM FOR ME COLONIAL HEIGHTS!
See the 2015 kindergarten show here.
Ms. Ridpath’s crew breaking it down.
Every year a remarkable local woman, her family and a bunch of volunteers put together a huge blow-out dance for Special Olympics athletes, family and friends. This was Joe’s second Snowflake Ball, and when Lia said he was wearing a tuxedo I rolled my eyes when I knew she couldn’t see me. I was thinking ring-bearer. Valet. Maitre d’. Then he put it on, and Daaaaamn. It was all Rat Pack meets Our Gang, and it just fit.
Joe played it cool when we first got there, but once he loosened-up, he worked the room in his unique way. Thanks Tracy and the rest of the Lowery family for putting on such a great event. You’re all terrific!
When I started to write this it was going to be peppered with James Bond references. Then I was thinking Sinatra. Why do confident men in tuxedos scream drunken 1960s? Why can’t a guy put on a tux and go out dancing without the specter of alcohol, violence and a questionable approach to women? Joe does things his own way, what’s in his sippy cup is his business and he has no interest in beating you up and taking your lady.
Besides, when I think of Bond – and I’m a big fan – it leads to more questions than answers. Why didn’t Goldfinger just shoot him? When Octopussy came out, what did the parents of 12 year olds like me think of the title? Who let Madonna do a theme song? Why didn’t Daniela Bianchi become a mega-star, yet we still have Denise Richards?
I spent the night standing next to this. No one even saw me. If there was a crime committed in Colonial Heights, I’d have no alibi. “Of course I saw Joe!” said everybody. “His dad? I really don’t remember.”
I agree, Camryn, there are no solid reasons for us to turn down. Also, I feel that this roof is a bit low, and should be raised. And while we’re at it, let’s all get together and just burn this mother down.
Connery’s danger. Moore’s one-liners. Craig’s anger. Dalton’s seriousness. Lazenby’s devil-may-care approach. No Brosnan, because he windsurfed a tsunami. Seriously, Die Another Day was just gross. Also no gun, because what kind of parents would we be if we armed a seven year old?
One other thing I wish I could work in here – the whole premise of the original Ocean’s 11 is a group of 82nd Airborne vets robbing Las Vegas. How cool is that? It has nothing to do with the Snowflake Ball. But Joe comes from 82nd stock on both sides, and can wear the hell out of a tux, so that’s how my mind works.
Nobody reads this far anyway, do they?