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When I Realized Why a Crowd Was Staring While My Son Played

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A couple years ago we took my son Ivan to his very first parade. The parade route was just a couple blocks away from our house. We went because the walk there was easy and if he hated it we could make an easy escape.

One of the churches on the main parade street had set up a free carnival on their front lawn. There were snow cones, face painting stations and a huge inflated obstacle course. There were two entrances to the obstacle course and the idea was two kids would race to see who got to the end first.

It was one of those moments.

It looked like so much fun and Ivan could hear the kids laughing. He wanted to join in so badly, but with his low muscle tone, could he really do an obstacle course?

Well, no, probably not, but I decided to take him through anyway. I figured with lots of assistance from me he could make it. Obviously we wouldn’t be racing any of the other kids — our goal was to just make it to the end.

I’m not going to lie — it was hard! But Ivan was having a great time (and couldn’t really get hurt because everything was so soft) so we just rolled and crawled our way through it. There were places where he had to squeeze between large inflated pillars and other spots where he had to climb over large inflated bolsters. He fell a lot and he was laughing the entire time!

mom and son in bouncy house

I started to realize we were taking a long time and probably holding up the other kids who wanted to race. I felt bad, but Ivan was having so much fun so I didn’t want to make him move faster or take him out. Then we got to the middle of the course where the whole thing opened up and I saw a huge crowd had gathered to watch us.

My heart sank. I felt awful. “They are all angry and want us to get out,” I thought. I was so focused on Ivan I didn’t notice right away that everyone was actually cheering him on.

“You can do it!”

“You’re doing great!”

“Keep going!”

I almost started crying as we kept going.

Then we hit the wall. It was an almost vertical wall with footholds and a rope. No way Ivan could do it or that I could carry him up. But at the top of the wall was the slide — the perfect finale to any obstacle course. How could I get Ivan to the slide?

Just then a woman jumped in and climbed the wall and reached out for Ivan’s hands to help me get him up. She pulled and I pushed and Ivan got to the top. The last bit was the slide (again, almost vertical) and down we went!

children playing on inflatable slide

When he tumbled out onto the grass, he was ecstatic. He did it.

The crowed cheered for him and he looked like he had just won a marathon. It was adorable and moving. It made me realize all over again why I love this town.

Then we had a snow cone and there was a parade. It was wonderful.

boy laughing on grass

A version of this post originally appeared on

Originally published: May 27, 2015
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