I think I mentioned the pollen yesterday.
Atlanta has always been known for smog and haze, sometimes getting so thick that when I hike up to the top of Kennesaw Mountain and gaze south toward Atlanta, the pollution is a physical thing suspended in the air like a great big viscous mass of grey air. It always makes me want to take a shower, or go to an oxygen bar. Do they even have oxygen bars here in Atlanta or are those for the really cool cities, like Paris and Oslo? Whatever, I never go downtown anyway unless I have to. There is plenty of humanity right here in the suburbs.
The spring however brings its own set of challenges in the form of pollen counts that get announced on the news. People literally turn their televisions on in the mornings before work waiting to hear how many thousands of particles per square whatever of air (how do they measure this?) like they wait for the humidity, or the temperature. Today, I think the pollen count was well over 4,000 and (I just looked it up on weather.com) in the red zone.
But what did we do? We went to a baseball game today. Outside. Not a normal baseball game, although there was plenty of cheering, lots and lots of high fives, smiling kids, bases, dugouts and coolers. Our swim group was asked to come to this baseball game and be buddies for the kids on the teams that played each other on a special field with no dirt and used t-ball rules which meant no outs and everyone got to bat at least twice. The team that we were paired with were some of the younger kids, made up solely of about nine kids from one of the local elementary schools. They seemingly covered the entire spectrum from severe autism to one child who functioned pretty well, but was happy to have pretty girls with him to another who had to wear a mask the entire time because of the pollen. There was another little girl who had the biggest smile and would go from group to group to touch someone’s arm or hand. She was just happy to be there and high fived everyone. I spoke with her mother for a while and was told that this was her daughter’s first baseball team, and that she usually did cheerleading.
Ah, so that’s where the beautiful smile came from.
It was fun, and although some of the kids couldn’t make it through the entire 45 minutes, others were thrilled and ran those bases like a boss. Interestingly enough though, despite the heat (it is the first day of 80 degrees, which isn’t really hot, but out on a baseball diamond somehow is) and despite the pollen cloud, no one complained. Not even our kids, the swim kids who, lets face it, aren’t really used to heat out on a baseball diamond. Not that they don’t work hard, because they do, but sweating takes on a whole different meaning when you aren’t in a pool.
Afterward, as we were waiting for kids to get picked up, I was discussing what a success the afternoon was with some other swim parents, good friends whose kids I’ve known and coached since they were in elementary school.
“It really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?” was one of the comments.
“Imagine the stresses of our every day lives, and then imagine those same stresses with a child with special needs,” was another comment.
I think about this a lot, actually. Not just today, but whenever I walk down the hall of the elementary school and I hear the wailing from the autistic classroom, or I see the deaf and hard of hearing kids and their interpreters sharing a smile or a laugh in silence. I have a good friend who is a school nurse. She was subbing in our school once and a little boy with no arms came in so that he could be assisted in the bathroom. There are children who unload at the middle school from the school bus in wheelchairs and crutches, not because they broke their legs or ankles, but because they can’t walk. Will never walk.
Life is never fair it seems.
There is something I say to my children. To whom much is given, much is expected. There is responsibility. Whether it be to your family or the stranger at the ball park. I want to make sure that my children understand this and aren’t afraid to help. Aren’t afraid to get in there and get working.
Even if its hot and sticky and the pollen count is 1 million.