When we screw up in life, people are very quick to jump all over us and point out the mistakes that we have made. They like to be “right,” and it makes them feel important to know that we are “wrong.” That’s the reason that so many people tell little white lies throughout their days. Forgot to send that letter via UPS at work? “The guy didn’t come by yet,” as you hurry and calculate if you can make it to the location before the cut-off time. Made a mistake on a form for your kid’s school? “I didn’t see it.” So when this kid made a HUGE mistake, the adults were waiting for all hell to break loose…
Last night was the last game for my eight-year-old girl and her soccer team. It was the final quarter. The score was two to one, my girl’s team in the lead. Parents shouted encouragement from the sidelines as the girls clashed on the field. With less than ten seconds remaining, the ball rolled in front of my girl’s teammate, one Katie O’Donnel. With shouts of “Kick it!” echoing across the field, Katie reared back and gave it everything she had.
All around me the crowd fell silent as the ball flew into the goal. Katie O’Donnel had scored!
Katie had scored all right, but in the wrong goal, ending the game in a tie. For a moment there was total silence. You see, Katie has Down Syndrome and for her there is no such thing as a wrong goal. All goals were celebrated by a joyous hug from Katie. She had even been known to hug the opposing players when they scored.
The silence was finally broken when Katie, her face filled with joy, grabbed my daughter, hugged her and yelled, ‘I scored! I scored. Everybody won! Everybody won!’
For a moment I held my breath, not sure how my daughter would react. I need not have worried. I watched, through tears, as my daughter threw up her hand in the classic high-five salute and started chanting, ‘Way to go Katie! Way to go Katie!’
Within moments, both teams surrounded Katie, joining in the chant and congratulating her on her goal. Later that night, when my son asked who had won, my daughter smiled and replied, ‘It was a tie. Everybody won!'”
This story shows the beautiful things that children are capable. They might not always choose the right things to do, they might not always say the right things, and sometimes, they act out just because they can…but in this moment, when little Katy needed it the most, the kids stood together and joined in her excitement. They didn’t care who was right or who made a mistake. They cared that she was happy, and that’s the lesson that we can all learn from these kids.
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