11 hours ago
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
He still believes, and that's magic
Monday, I took the kids to a Disney on Ice show. Only I didn't much watch the skaters. I watched Max watching the skaters, enthralled by how completely and utterly enchanted he was (and admiring his still chub-alicious cheeks).
Max typically likes to sit in the back of venues but he grudgingly let me escort him to the fifth row of seats, a gift from The Friendship Circle. Wearing headphones helped—he gladly gave up the ever-present Fire Chief hat to put them on. The show started. Mickey and Minnie skated out. The tots sitting around us squealed. And suddenly, Max was mesmerized. Sabrina, too, which was heartening given that she's entered the eye-roll stage of life.
Max is 12 years old, an age when most kids no longer delight in watching the Disney Jr. channel, reading Little Critter books, playing with toy fire trucks or seeing Anna and Elsa skating around on ice. But Max sure does. When I surprised him with the tickets, he raised both arms up and literally said, "YAY!" When Olaf stood by the side of the rink and waved to the audience, Max enthusiastically waved back. Throughout the show, Max kept pointing to the ceiling and telling me there would be fireworks, which he knew from seeing Disney on Ice videos on YouTube. Sure enough, when fireworks went off, he gave me the most gleeful look. As we walked back to the car, he put his hands together, the symbol for "more."
It could get to me that developmentally, Max lags behind his peers. When he was little, I ached for him to catch up to other kids and tortured myself by reading the BabyCenter updates. But now I've accepted: Max is on his own timeline. What makes him happy makes him happy, "age-appropriate" be damned. I long ago stopped caring about the age recommendations on toy boxes and books. If Max is 30, 40 or 50 years old and still loving toy trucks and the whole Disney crew, then great: He will still love toy trucks and the whole Disney crew.
I'm glad to do whatever I can to cater to Max's interests, whether it's weekly visits to the local fire station, buying him lots of purple stuff (during his purple phase), going to countless car washes (during the car wash phase) or serving him a ton of spaghetti (during the spaghetti phase). I smiled yesterday when I read a story several friends shared about a Virginia 14-year-old with autism, Dylan, who is really into vacuums. His mom emailed the Kirby vacuum people (Dylan's fave brand) to see if someone would do a demo in their home for his birthday. A salesperson did. Dylan had the time of his life and he got a new vacuum, to boot. Also: Dylan knew more about the vacuum than the salesperson.
As special needs parents, we're not thinking "He's too old for that." Weird? Strange? Nah. What we're thinking is, let's try to give our kids what makes them happy. (Assuming your child is not requesting, say, that you buy him his own fire truck.)
Childhood zooms by, as moms of older kids will tell you. Those delicious days of wonder and joy are gone all too soon, times you only truly appreciate once they are history. But not for me, because Max still has that pure wonder and joy. And I'm happy to savor them for as long as I can.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:36 AM