Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The people who just want to make your kid happy


I've been walking around with this big ball of gratitude in my heart for the last few days. I'm still overwhelmed by all the kindness that came our way on the day of Max's birthday party. It started, as you may have seen, with some of his beloved local firefighters giving him a ride in a fire truck to his party. And then it just kept on going.

There are many people on Team Max enabling his physical and cognitive abilities. And then there are the people who've cropped up to enhance his levels of joy. In recent months, people have sent Max a real firefighter hat (thanks, Morris!); firefighter caps (thanks, Sally!); firefighter shirts (thanks, Sondra!); a firefighter drawing (thanks, Chloe!) and firefighter patches (thanks, Justin). And if I've unintentionally left anyone out, THANKS. It takes a village to nourish a child's obsession. Seriously, I've been touched by the people who want to make Max happy. And that makes me all kinds of happy, too.

Sabrina, Grandma Tina, Uncle Steve and my sis, Aunt Judy, did all the set-up—including hanging a photo of Max and his favorite firefighter, Angelo
Aunt Judy and Uncle Steve in the requisite party hats





Diane Quiroga of Art Talks LLC, an amazingly creative and super-nice art therapist and mental health consultant who's known Max since he was little, went above and beyond to find projects for the party. Kids jammed modeling clay into plastic fire engine molds to make trucks. They sprayed paint onto paper with mini fire extinguishers. They took home little crayons shaped like fire trucks and firefighter hats.


The hit of the party: Flying Wish Paper. They're these little squares that resemble tissue paper; you write a wish on them, crumble them, open them up, roll them around a finger, light them on fire and then they rocket up. Supposedly they are safe to use indoors, though maybe not if you are a hoarder.



Afterward, everyone had pizza. The kids did a little dancing, and made a train around the room. Then we broke out the cake, fit for an aspiring firefighter.

At first the Carvel lady wasn't sure she'd be able to fit the entire message, but....

Yep, I found a fire truck piƱata

After all that giddiness, Max announced "Let's go!" and led the group over to the fire station across the street. The guys knew he'd be bringing the party over. Max showed everyone around, pointing out the different trucks. Firefighter Angelo drove his favorite, Tower 31, onto the driveway.

The guys taped the sign we made onto the truck, with the same message that was on the cake (in case anyone had forgotten from five minutes before): "I want to be a fireman when I grow up."
The kids took turns "driving" the truck
Then Firefighter Angelo suggested that Max do an "inspection" of the truck and walk around it. Perched on the back was a big box. Inside was a real firefighter jacket with "Fireman Max" imprinted on the back, firefighter pants with suspenders, a firefighter hat with a visor, firefighter boots and a yellow firefighter flashlight. Max was so dazzled he was dazed. 

He's official now
As if all THAT wasn't enough, Firefighter Angelo knows how much Max loves the ladder part of the truck, so he went up in it as everyone watched in awe.



Max helped lower the ladder down
I thanked the firefighters again and again. Max thanked them and gave fist bumps and hugs. We drove home. Only the goodness wasn't over just yet. Grandpa Phil broke out his gift. He knows a higher-up at the Fire Department of New York and told him about Max. That man put out a call to fire stations around the city for badges;  he collected sixty.

I think they'd look cool on a quilt. Anybody sew?!
Max being Max, he asked if I could please repeat the same birthday celebration next year. Me being me, I wasn't sure how I'd ever be able to repay all that goodness. And the firefighters? Just, wow. Any one of the things they did would have been plenty.

The jacket has its own honorary kitchen chair
The day after, I mentioned that to my friend Jeannie. She noted, "It made the firefighters feel really good to do that for Max." I knew she was right. When I was gushing to Chief Joe about the day I said, "Thanks for all you do for Max." And he said, "Thanks for sharing Max with us."


29 comments:

  1. There is good in humanity left.

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  2. All of this is so beautiful, I am tearing up at my desk. What a wonderful community you have surrounding Max

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  3. It is so heartwarming to read about Max's family and friends who go above and beyond to make him happy...Just makes me remember there is so much good in this world.

    especially after reading horrible news about attacks on school kids in peshawar, Pakistan..

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  4. This made me tear up too. I'm so glad that your family had such a beautiful celebration.

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  5. I gotta say you are doing nothing to stop my debilitating collective crush on firemen.

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    1. Max would gladly allow you to accompany him to all of the fire stations in NYC. Let me know when you'd like to start. He, he.

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  6. I don't know why you were worried about Max not having friends seems to me like he has plenty of friends (see: pic of firemen above)

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  7. That sounds like the best birthday ever!!!!!! Glad Max had a GOOD bday!!!!! xxoo

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    1. Max definitely inherited Dave's genes for having a GOOD celebration! xo

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  8. What a great party! I too teared up a bit as I read through the description of his day. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Max is so lucky. No one goes out of their way to make me happy.

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    1. Oh, Anna, I am sorry to read this. Sometimes, you have to go find the happiness, you know? Max has been visiting the fire station every weekend, which is how the firefighters knew it was his birthday.

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  10. This is such an awesome story! Glad Max had such an amazing day with the most amazing friends!

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  11. Yes, there's lots of love in the world. Of course, goodness doesn't need to be repaid--that's its point, but you're passing it forward, and that's the best of all. Thanks for sharing Max's joy with us, as well as the fireman.

    bj

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  12. Happy tears to read goodness given to Fireman Max. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  13. Oh, Ellen, happy tears are here, too! I think of it this way...you do a lot for Max and Sabrina, you are a light in the world who brings smiles and understanding to others....you help make the world a better place. And I believe others see that in you. It's karma at work, or paying it forward, or however you want to see it. Thank you for what you do, for finding/feeling, and SHARING your gratitude, for ALLOWING others to experience the joy of supporting others...for being yourself!
    Love to all,
    Tracie

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    Replies
    1. Wow. Thank you for that, truly touched. And you do not seem to be my mother!

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  14. Firefighters are the ABSOLUTE BEST!!!! Thanks for sharing!!

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  15. I just HAD to post this for you....looks like it's only available from Europe tho, not sure how to figure out pricing and shipping....made me think of Max!

    https://www.snurkbeddengoed.nl/nl/product/firefighter-1

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  16. And again, go to the snurkbeddengoed site and then click on the US flag up in the right corner....duh!!!

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    1. We got him that firefighter blanket/pillow! It is very awesome, especially it makes him actually want to go to sleep at night!

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  17. Leslie O'DonnellDecember 19, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    And now I'm bawling AGAIN. I am so, so happy for you guys....and especially Max....that he has such a community of love and support around him. What a blessing! I wish more kids got the recognition of how much they had to offer to those who strive for their thriving, that Max has been getting.

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  18. It is just such a wonderful thing that these firemen are not only there for Max, but that they see and honor that while Max is lucky to have them, they are even luckier that to have him as their biggest fan! And that fireman's jacket...wow wow wow!!

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  19. happy tears here too...So glad Max had such a great time!!! These firemen are really amazing! And Max deserves it! So do you. You are a great mother...Max and Sabrina are very lucky kids. You look at the beautiful and happy side of life, instead of sitting there and complaining about the difficulties....I´m sure people love being around you and around Max because of that....! L
    ove, Daniela (a reader and admirer from Brazil)

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  20. This is just the best story. Love and respect for everyone who made this happen. Max will never forget it and probably no one involved will either. Just so awesome.

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Thanks for sharing!



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