Monday, September 16, 2013
Family time, special needs style
Max and I went out for pasta this weekend while Dave took Sabrina to one of those bounce places full of inflatables. Sabrina went off on a playdate while Dave watched Max biking up and down the street and I ran some errands, then we switched and Dave went to pick up some groceries. When Dave took Max for a speech therapy session, Sabrina and I went to the paint store to pick out a color for her bedroom (Benjamin Moore Spring Violet).
Saturday night, we all went to a party at a friend's house. We got there first, so Max could ease into it, only he wasn't happy and started screeching. So Dave took him for a ride to calm him down, Sabrina played with kids and I chatted with my friend. Later, Max quieted down and I hung with him on the couch watching Disney Jr., Dave out on the deck drinking wine and Sabrina bouncing on a trampoline with the kids. As I sat there, I thought about how our family feels so divided at times, and it got to me. And this is even before Max's Sunday special needs program and Sabrina's dance and gymnastics lessons kick in.
Last night, I asked Dave if he ever wishes we did more stuff together as a family. "Yes, I do," he said. "But it's part of the deal, honey. Try not to let it bother you." That's the way things often go: I overthink and over-feel, and he's the opposite. We balance each other out.
Of course, there's stuff we do as a family: museums, fun parks or regular parks, vacation anywhere (we all love road and plane trips), restaurants Max is used to, just hanging out on our street. We've made major strides from when Max was little, and he barely ever wanted to leave the house. Yet there are still limits to what we can do as a family, typically because Max doesn't feel comfortable going to some places or has no interest, or he's not physically up to it.
One wish I have for the upcoming year is finding more activities to do together—and that Max will mature into it. I want to enjoy both kids with Dave. I'd like to have a whole lot of memories of us doing everyday stuff together, not just trips. At some point, the kids are not even going to want to be with us (at 8, Sabrina already has teen-age girl 'tude), and I want to pack it in while we can.
We've never gone on a family hike, which I'd really like to do. So we're going to try in a couple of weekends, find a short flat trail and bring a collapsible stool for Max so he can rest up. He'll wear his Cars 2 backpack. Sabrina will change her outfit five times and her earrings twice before we leave as I say, "Sabrina, let's gooooooo! NOW!" The kids will squabble in the car ride en route there. As we walk, Max will remind me approximately every five minutes that he wants a talking Lightning McQueen for his birthday. Sabrina will say "I'm tired!" maybe fifteen minutes after we set off. Perhaps we'll tell knock-knock jokes or sing songs, ones Sabrina learned at Girl Scouts or "You Might Think I'm Crazy" from the Cars 2 movie. Dave will ask why I didn't remember to pack his seaweed snack and I'll remind him, "I'm not your maid!" We'll collect fall leaves. I'll take deep breaths of clean, woodsy air and tell everyone to. Someone will trip or fart or burp and we'll all laugh.
You know, just like any family.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:40 AM