Today the boys were riding the tricycles that Aunt Dana got them for their 2nd birthday last year. Adam has been able to coordinate the pedaling for some time now and until recently Andrew hardly showed any interest in it. Now he's decided he wants to ride the tricylce too and the past few weeks he's been getting on and off and attempting to push it into motion.
Today it just about broke my heart because he seemed to come to a realization that he "can't" do it. Not because he's too young, or too short, or isn't trying hard enough. He just physically can't coordinate the muscles and gather the strength to push the pedals forward and keep his feet on the pedals. That's not to say that he won't be able to in his own time (perhaps even tomorrow because he always surprises) but as of today he just plain "can't".
"Can't" isn't a word I really care for because it's usually used in the context of "I'm too lazy" "I'm not patient enough" "I don't want to" "I'm not willing to try hard enough". But in all sincerity I've never seen someone try so hard to do something and he just was not physically able to do it, "can't" took on a new more appropriate meaning today for someone I dearly love and it was painful.
To make matters worse, his brother, without intending to be mean, was riding laps around him at a super fast speed around and around and around while Andrew was stuck there in once place.
I attempted to help Andrew get started but he couldn't keep his feet on the pedals and he is a two year old that wants to do it "by by self" so he wouldn't let me keep helping him.
At one point when the realization hit Andrew that it wasn't going to happen, he cried out in physical agony over his situation. Ouch, I felt it deep inside as if it were me.
You might disagree or think this moment was rather insignificant but looking back I really think it's okay for him to be sad/frustrated/whatever over his limitation. So long as he doesn't wallow in self pity and he does not.
We encouraged him to keep trying and told him "You'll get there, Keep trying, Way to go!" but that didn't really seem appropriate because in fact he wasn't giving up and he did keep trying and he never once uttered the word "can't". In fact he refused to get off the trike when I called them in for dinner, unwilling to give up until he'd triumphed. But no matter how hard he tries, there will certainly be days where he just flat out "can't" and at the risk of sounding ungrateful, it really does make me ache for him.
Yes, we and he are SO fortunate, Yes we try to focus on what he "can" do, Yes he "can" do quite a lot, Yes we know he is doing more than anyone ever predicted, Yes it could be SO much worse, Yes so many other parents would love for their children to be able to do half the things Andrew is able to do.
But none of those things change the fact that his little heart and mine hurt today in that moment. And I think that's okay to say outloud. It's okay because it's his story.
Sometimes triumph is not in the "can" but the "try". And frustration, dissapointment, or sadness just makes us real and I think it would be unfair to not allow Andrew to grieve his losses so long as it doesn't become a "crutch" for him and I don't see him taking that attitude.
Andrew, even when you "can't" you always "do" make us proud!