"He's not my son? No way, this can't be…" (Happy Birthday)
I have never ever done this before. Today I am publishing an article that was in my offline Seductive Selling Newsletter, about a year ago. It’s in honor of my younger son, Casey. Today’s his 17th birthday and he’s a great kid with an incredible work ethic and sense of commitment.
This article comes from a column called “Tales From The Back-End,” which is a two-page editorial column that starts on the last page of the newsletter. Here goes:
Casey was 9 months old when I split up with his biological mother. When he was very young, he looked so dissimilar to me, I questioned whether or not he was even my biological son. Someone had suggested to me at the time, that I go for some sort of genetic testing to determine whether or not he was my son.
However, I decided not to do this because I couldn’t bear with the emotional fallout of what might happen if he wasn’t my son. I loved him and I wasn’t about to give him up — mine or not. Today, of course, everyone tells us he’s the spitting image of me (except he’s good-looking), so it’s not even a question.
Turns out I made a good decision in more ways than one.
The other day, Casey, who’s probably at around 6% bodyfat, came to me and was frustrated because the kids in his class assume his abs look great and he’s so defined, because he’s skinny.
This isn’t true at all. In fact, while Casey’s always been thin, he wasn’t particularly shapely until he started working out about 3 years ago. At the
same time he did this, he also began a strict dieting regime, and through all the training he does, he now looks great.
He’s chiseled as a matter of fact.
But here’s what he does to look like this. First off, he watches what he eats like a hawk. He trains literally every weekday and usually one day on the weekend. He’s on his high school swimming team in the fall, the wrestling team in the winter, and he runs track in the spring.
So he trains in whatever sport he’s in, 5 days a week, he goes to the gym and lifts weights at least three days a week, and once in a while, he’ll train in one or more sports on Saturday.
Sundays he usually plays touch football with his friends at the Middle School field nearby. Obviously, his ripped abs aren’t a gift, they’re a hard-earned prize he is well deserving of.
Now here’s some more interesting stuff about Casey. He pinned someone once in a wrestling match, but in the last two years he’s never actually won a match. He comes in dead last in every single swimming meet he’s in, and he is usually so far behind in his road races (he runs cross country), that the other runners have all lapped him at least once by the time Casey finishes.
Sounds weird, doesn’t it?
No, not really. You see, Casey was born 10 weeks early, and weighed 3 pounds, 6 ounces at birth. I held him in the palm of my hand the first few days, like a small furry baby macaque monkey.
He was in the hospital for 5 five weeks, living in an incubator, and had a heart monitor attached to him for around the first year of his life. And because of his prematurity, he was born with a mild case of Cerebral Palsy.
He had issues with his fine motor skills as a young child, he walked late, and today, because he’s walked on his tippy toes for his entire life, his walking gate is basically all out of whack. He’s got a limp, and so when he runs and does any other physical activity, there’s just no way he can compete with kids who’ve developed “normally.”
We’ll get back to that word “normal” in just a minute, because it’s a real stinger, from time-to-time.
In reality, Casey (who’s pretty much been on the honor roll his entire school career) is quite lucky. As you’d imagine, we’ve taken him to a number of different physical and occupational therapists during his lifetime, and what we’ve seen, as far as kids being born with Cerebral Palsy, is nothing shy of devastating.
Many children are either confined to a wheelchair for their entire lifetime, not in control over their own movements, unable to speak or properly communicate, and have other troubles that, to be honest with you, are too overwhelming for me to confront.
Yet, Casey’s has always been athletic. Anne and I both coached him in soccer when he was 5 and 6 years old, and from age 7 to 10, I coached him in basketball. He’s always played all kinds of sports – t-ball, baseball, tennis, martial arts — you name it, he’s done it — and we’ve always encouraged and supported him in all of these endeavors.
And, he’s always competed fairly and hung in there. As he’s gotten older however, the distance between him and his peers, physically — especially in competitive team sports — has distanced, simply because of his physical limitations.
However, what hasn’t changed is that Casey’s still hanging in there, going toe to toe with whoever he needs to, sweating, fighting, digging out that last ounce of energy.
Now let’s get back to that word, “normal.” It is one thing to be “different” mentally. We can all sit and feel good, and even sometimes smug, because we believe we are NOT like everyone else, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re successful.
But this is voluntary “abnormality.”
Whether you’re driven to success, or driven to be the best at whatever it is you enjoy, this is a voluntary departure from the norm. No different to the teenager who dresses in goth clothes, or the martial artist who follows what they believe is the “true” style of their art, or the designer who goes against the grain of conventional design, on purpose.
But there’s a big difference between choosing to be different, and being forced to be different. Being forced to do anything, stinks. Being forced to be physically different, is a HUGE challenge.
I’ve discussed this with Casey, especially lately. He’s getting well-known around his school campus, and I’m sure one of the reasons why is simply the fact that he is so determined, and the fact that he is different.
In his mind, he doesn’t see himself as being handicapped or limited. He knows he has limitations, but he also knows it’s up to him how far he goes in life, and that if he allows his limitations to define how far he goes, he
loses as soon as the race starts.
He’d rather focus on his abilities than on his disabilities.
I well up with tears every time I see him run a race, because I would like him to not be different. And I always stick out in the crowd because I get up and cheer him on like crazy, when he’s the last one in line.
But he is far stronger than I am about this — see, he doesn’t feel powerless at all. Where I just want to take away any kind of disability he may have, and make it easier for him, he doesn’t see this — he just thinks he needs to work a little harder than the other kids, that’s all.
A few weeks ago, Casey’s wrestling coach told Anne candidly, that Casey may never win a wrestling match in his entire high school career, but he also told her that at the same time, he wishes all the kids on his team had half Casey’s attitude and work ethic. Apparently he’s the first one to get to practice, and the last one to leave, and he never ever tries to ditch out on any chores or take any short-cuts.
(Note: Casey won his first wrestling match this season. This article was originally written last season.)
Last week at his first track meet, his Cross Country coach told me virtually the same thing.
Casey just went for his first job interview — he’ll be working at the YMCA this summer in their camp. He will soon be eligible to get his drivers license in late September, and he wants to make sure he’ll have enough money to buy a car as soon as he can drive.
(Note: Casey bought his own car about a month ago, and loves the freedom of driving, and he’s now in his second track season. In his first race of this season, the one mile, he beat his personal best from last year.)
He’s also well-liked at work and gets more hours than any of the other kids.
Casey is not only a champion, he’s also one of the most gentle and forgiving people I know. Unlike his dad, he rarely flies off the handle but like his dad, he’s pretty much the same person all the time. He isn’t moody at all and has an even temperament.
If you look at the quadrant of personality styles, he’s pretty much an “amiable” — doesn’t get pissed off too often, doesn’t piss others off. Don’t get me wrong, he’s far from perfect — after all, he is a “normal” teenaged boy and he drives us nuts like all teenagers do.
But he’s running his life the way he wants to, and he doesn’t let society decide what’s right, what’s wrong, and most important — what kind of limits he has and doesn’t have.
And overall, he makes good decisions. Each of my children, in some way or another, has inspired me. I think, in Casey’s case, he’s probably going to be a hero and an inspiration to loads of different people, throughout his life. And they, like me, will be lucky to have met such a gentle and successful person.
One of the best decisions I ever made — and really, it was a nobrainer at the time — was to ignore the possibility Casey wasn’t my son, biologically. I know he now is, but maybe even more important, he and I have shared a lifetime of love and growth in our relationship and will continue doing so. And, he’s the kind of person I’d want to have in my world, whether he was related to me or not.
Life sometimes throws us all curve balls. Some health-wise, some relationship wise, and some business-wise.
Very few of us however, are able to persevere with the same sense of tenacity my son has. He’s truly made lemonade out of lemons, and he drinks it daily.
Happy 17th Birthday Casey. I love you every day. YOU are the
true “man in the arena.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt, Paris France, April 23,
Now go sell something, Craig Garber
P.S.: In this month’s “Tales From The Back-End,” you can look forward to reading why “In many ways, he’s my hero.” Test-drive it free and get 18 (Real) bonus gifts (WATCH the silly video) at http://www.kingofcopy.com/ssnl
Check out ALL the King’s products at http://www.kingofcopy.com/products
Got a difficult question? Just ask me, baby! http://www.kingofcopy.com/askmebaby
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