"Child will stand in pool unassisted and independently drink pina colada," said no child development book ever. But that's just what Max did during our vacation in the Florida Keys, and the achievement made me really happy. (Stay calm, it was a virgin colada).
Most of my hopes for Max are centered around his cognition, functionality and independence. I mean, of course, I hope he will always be as happy as he is. Other than that, though, my dreams are that he will one day be able to dress himself, use a bathroom without assistance, get food for himself out of the fridge and prepare food for himself. I dream that he will continue to advance with his reading and math, that his speech will grow clearer and that his comprehension will bloom. I dream of the small-but-not-so-small things, too, like that he will one day sip through a straw.
I do not dream of the pleasures in life that Max might someday enjoy, like that he will backpack through Europe as I did, because logically I know that won't happen unless he has the functionality and cognition. Nor do I think much about pleasures he might be missing out on now. Because we do our best to enable him and enrich his life, because he creates his own kind of fun—and because I am past the point of mourning what is lost and now appreciate and celebrate what he can do.
Even if Max doesn't swim, we've helped him get comfortable with putting his face under water and blowing bubbles. Even if he doesn't build Lego creations, he has a fine time coloring (fire trucks, preferably). Even if he doesn't cruise around our neighborhood on his bike with other boys, he pedals up and down our street on his adapted trike like a maniac. Even if he doesn't hold an ice-cream cone, he does an admirable job of spooning up chocolate ice-cream from a cup as fast as he can.
So then we were on vacation. I had no real hopes for it, other than wanting us all to relax sans schedules. Which actually happened. We spent a whole lot of time hanging in the main pool at the resort, Hawks Cay in Duck Key. I did have one wish, which was that Max would not force me to endlessly ride around the resort on whatever form of transportation it offered—bus, shuttle, tram—as inevitably happens on trips. Often, the vehicles are his favorite part of our vacation destination. That wish did not come true.
|On his 5,000th tram ride|
He learned how to float in a pool—yes, actual floating.
He discovered the fun of having splash fights with Sabrina.
He did limbo.
He tossed a football around for the first time.
The most amazing activity we did at the resort: a dolphin meet-and-greet. I spoke with a staffer there ahead of time to let her know I wasn't sure Max would be game to get in the water, or even stand on the platform in the water. It's impossible to know when he will or won't be able to push past his fears of the unknown and his sensory issues. I figured that even standing on the dock and watching the dolphins frolicking would be a fun experience.
But this boy. He listened as a staffer talked about dolphins. He let us wiggle him into a wetsuit. He stood on the platform in the lagoon, his legs shaking a bit and looking nervous, but his face lit up when the dolphins leaped and he asked if they'd do it one more time.
Then Max got into the water—hesitatingly at first (he said it was cold, which it was), and then he was OK. Dave and I took turns holding him as he stroked a dolphin, shook hands with a dolphin and kept asking when they would leap up again. He loved it, as did Sabrina who pronounced it "the best thing I ever did."
These are the pleasures Max experienced that I never would have thought to dream of. Seeing your kids having a great time on vacation is always happymaking, but watching Max enjoy new experiences did my heart good. Bonus: They distracted him from the tram.