Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It Turns Out the Geo Bowl Was Good Inclusion All Along

Today was the day. Today was Geo Bowl day. I crossed my fingers and sent Jack to school with assurances that I was proud of him for working so hard to prepare for his competition and the results of the contest didn’t matter at all.

Jack had studied really hard for the Geo Bowl. I’d emailed the other team parents. I’d made sure Jack’s teacher and para had support plans in place. I’d panicked to all of you ad nauseum. We were as ready as we were gonna be.

I needn’t have worried.

My friend—whose daughter is in Jack’s autism class—and I sat in the front row at the Geo Bowl together today and watched our kids rock the free world.

It turns out that the way it was set up, no one student was put on the spot at any point. The teams didn’t have to compete against each other to answer questions first. The kids didn’t have to sit quietly in a chair behind a table. Honestly, I wouldn’t have had any suggestions about how to better set it up if I’d been asked. It was great.

I considered going into detail about how it was set up, but I don’t think you really care. What you care about is that Jack’s team smiled with him, included him, and made him part of the high-fives that went around when they answered questions right. (His friend’s team did the same with her.)

Every kid in that room was awesome. They all knew so much about geography and had obviously worked really hard.The organizers, who as far as I could tell were all parents, were fantastic and had done an amazing job putting the Geo Bowl together. The whole thing gave me warm fuzzies.

It also helped that the teams had come up with some excellent team names: Purple Eagles, Red Revolution, Yellow Rice Krispies, Blue Sumo Wrestlers (Jack’s team), and the Flying Monkeys—who were green.

The end result was really close. None of the teams missed many questions. But Jack’s team came out on top—by one point.

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After the Sumo Wrestlers were announced as the winner, kids in the audience gave Jack spontaneous high fives. I know, right? I know.
So Jack’s team won, but how did he do?

He did great.

He took a break at one point, leaving the auditorium with his fantastic paraeducator. I was actually really happy to see that, because I had told Jack that if he needed a break, he could take one. I love watching him advocate for himself.

His team wasn’t asked any questions about the U.S. Territories (Jack’s specialty), but there was one question that no one on the team knew the answer to—except for Jack. He gave them the answer and earned them the point.

Again, I know.

(Delaware. The answer was Delaware. I can’t remember the question.)

One of the parents who had been on the stage with the kids made a point to tell me right after the Geo Bowl that Jack had done that. Another parent emailed me later that afternoon to tell me the same thing.

I KNOW.

I am beaming just remembering.

I could not possibly be prouder of Jack. (He’s proud of himself too.) I could not be more in love with his teammates. My friend and I giddily walked out of the school after the Geo Bowl, talking about how amazing it was to watch our kids brainstorm and celebrate with their teammates. Our kids are phenomenally awesome, we decided.

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He refused to smile for me. I didn’t care.
Once again, Jack has shown me just how much he is capable of. It should come as no surprise to any of us that he is capable of a lot.

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