First things first. Levi got a job!!!! He's actually been working since early September now, but in case you didn't know......!!!! He is working at a veterinary clinic and he most does laundry, sweeping and mopping, cleaning cages, taking out the garbage, and preparing the surgical trays. He loves it, and they love him. He's only working six hours a week right now because he has varsity travel soccer three days a week too.
I went with him his first day and interpreted for his training. But ever since, he has gone on his own. The owner (a vet) learned 10-15 signs for him, and one of the techs tries to learn too. Levi made them a YouTube video with signs to help them be able to communicate and he has a little pad of paper that he writes back and forth on. I am SO proud of him.
For soccer: he is on a homeschool varsity travel team. They are GOOD. Second in the league; and the kids who beat them play rough. The league is made up of high school teams (public and private). I forget what division the league is, but they are good. The boys on Levi's team are super nice, and inclusive, and they like him a lot. Which in turn makes me like THEM a lot. The coaches are great, and Levi has learned a LOT this summer. He's also made some noticeable improvement. He is playing striker, which is tough because that's new for him. He's used to playing center or right midfield and he doesn't have a super strong kick or very good aim, so it's been a lot of learning and struggles. Some games he plays a lot, and some he doesn't. But he always cheers his teammates on and fist-pounds them when they come off the field, and he is always respectful and cheerful, even when he is pulled from a game. It's hard because this is varsity, so if he isn't scoring during a game, then he gets pulled and become sub, and that's hard for him. But he handles it with grace and humility, and I am so proud of him. Like, beyond words.
We had an interesting game last week. We played the deaf school. The one that was unwilling to work with Levi regarding his education. The one that told us that Levi could not play sports for them because he was homeschooled. The one that said Levi would be lucky to ever get to third grade, or acquire basic language. The one who said I wouldn't be able to teach my kids.
Funny thing about that team. They had several DEAF homeschoolers on their team. And that stung. Not for me, but for my poor son who was rejected and tossed aside like garbage because of the cards that life had dealt him. Discarded because he was a "hopeless" case. I was hurt when I heard they had deaf homeschoolers. Levi was hurt. He acted like it didn't matter, but I saw the smart of betrayal in his eyes. And I boiled inside.
It was a good game.
We beat them.
And I was exceedingly satisfied. But I hurt for my son, who looked at that other team and saw kids just like him, able to communicate together and be FRIENDS and then I saw him look to his team where he is alone and where an interpreter is required for communication; where he is left out so often.....and I hurt for him. Maybe I don't want him learning to play dirty, or use foul language, or snub people because they aren't deaf (all things I saw at the game), but I hurt for him. An aching pain of seeing your child crushed and there being nothing you can do. Because life isn't fair. Because being deaf in a hearing world isn't fair. And even though I want to, I can't fix the communication barrier. I can't give him friends, true friends, his age, who can sign with him. And it kills me.
I will say, a couple of boys came up to him after and introduced themselves and were very nice to him. They tried to recruit him. And all I could think was, "We aren't the reason that he isn't on your team." Sometimes I wonder which is the lesser of the two evils.....let Levi be on the team that builds his character and trains him better, and plays clean, or talk to the school again allow him to join a soccer team with people who can understand some of what he goes through on a daily basis from a personal perspective; people he might be friends with and could communicate with fully, BY HIMSELF.
Why is life so hard, and why can't I take my kids' pain away?
We had one game this year that was scary. Levi was going for the ball and he was trying to do a header. They were up against the only team in the league who has beaten them all year. Unfortunately, Levi was up against a player who has a rep for being the dirtiest player in the league. As Levi was coming up for the ball, the kid (who is almost as tall as Abe) came down throwing his whole body into his elbow; and his elbow into Levi's eye socket/cheekbone. Levi went down like a rock and didn't move. I knew something was really wrong, because he always rolls like a tumbleweed and keeps on going. It was a scary couple of minutes waiting for him to move and then waiting to see if he would be okay. When he finally got up, he was bleeding and in a lot of pain. His face was already swelling. We got him ice and cleaned his cuts. He was out the rest of the game .
By the time we left, his face was slowly ballooning. The next day it was worse. The following day, his eye was swollen hut and he was hardly recognizable. The day after that, I called his doctor. I was worried that he might have fractured his cheekbone, since he didn't grow up with calcium either. I took him for an X-ray, but it came back clean. They told us to keep him on ibuprofen and ice, just like we already were. It took about a week, but his swelling finally went down.
What a summer.
Levi is also doing 6th, 7th, and 8th grade this year. How crazy is that? The child who couldn't hold a 3-letter word in his memory just three short years ago is spelling words like "pomegranate" after seeing it one time. He is doing great, and he always wants to work. I think he would do school overnight if I would let him. I can't tell you how proud I am! Imagine trying to learn a language where you can't actually be exposed to it, or hear how it is used. You simply have to memorize thousands of words, and then those words sometimes have 2-5 meanings each, and there are hundreds of exceptions. The words change depending on other words that come before or after them, and all you can do is memorize. How is it even possible?