The Friday Night Club for United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County was just getting started. My daughter and I approach the front door of the suburban home hosting this event and wrote our names on the volunteer sign in sheet. All around this traditional style home were people ranging in age from 10-17 with a variety of disabilities. This organization does great things to help these people live a full life, despite their limitations.
We entered the living room and found my daughter’s friend who had arrived just minutes before us. I could tell by the expressions on the girls’ faces that they were feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the people that were there, so I began thinking of ways to turn these teen introverts into extroverts. This is something no introvert really appreciates, but it has to be done! The whole point of this evening is to show these UCP kids a fun time so they can forget about their disabilities for one night.
Out in the backyard we found many of the kids shooting hoops and playing table tennis. As we surveyed the surroundings I noticed a swimming pool that had a plastic tarp covering it. Then out came a beach ball flying through the air, and immediately everyone wanted to try to keep hitting it into the sky. This got my daughter and her friend a bit more engaged with the other kids.
I noticed the people playing table tennis had finished their game, so I encouraged the girls to start up a game with a couple of the kids. They did, reluctantly. See how helpful I am? Honestly, sometimes it’s so hard to get my teenager to move past her shyness and just relax. All the while I’m thinking, “Why can’t she stop worrying about what other people think and just enjoy herself?”
Well, as soon as I finished that thought, someone’s table tennis paddle misdirects the ball past me, and it lands on the pool cover. Now me being, well…me, I totally forget that the pool cover was nothing more than a piece of plastic on top of water, so I proceed to walk on water. Or at least step onto water. One step. That was it before I tumbled onto the plastic cover and began bobbing around like I was on a giant waterbed. (Did I mention I was still in my work clothes?) Needless to say, everyone got a great laugh out of it. See how helpful I am? Luckily, I don’t embarrass easily so I just started laughing right along with them.
Somehow I managed to get myself back onto solid ground and returned the ball to the person who sent it flying onto the pool in the first place. I’ll give you three guesses who that was. Yes, the very same person who continues to break out into laughter every time she remembers me doing a belly flop in my work clothes. But hey, as a mom, it’s a small price to pay in order to teach my daughter how to lighten up and not take yourself so seriously. And the best part is that she continues to go to these Friday night events, but without the table tennis.