Tuesday, May 31, 2016
That time we forgot about Max, and it was a good thing
Saturday night, we were in Cape May at the Jersey Shore and enjoying dinner out. Max had a plateful of guacamole, Sabrina downed veggie pasta, the baby feasted on puréed squash, Dave and I shared salmon plus I had a Bloody Mary with extra olives. It was pretty much one of the only times on the weekend I got to relax, since you actually have to sit when you're at a restaurant eating a meal.
After the check came, we put the baby in the stroller, made sure we took all of his stuff (baby spoon, bib, bowl, toys, burp cloth, food containers, OMG) and headed out through a courtyard. Dave lifted the stroller over a step. I don't recall what we were talking about, but we were about to walk down the block.
"Ohmmy!" I heard. I turned around and there was Max ambling toward us, with a big grin on his face. We'd completely neglected to escort him out and up the big step. Sabrina had seen him standing there—there was no rail he could hold onto for support—and before she could send out the alert a waiter had lent him a hand.
Max was nonplussed. For me, it was A Moment.
We have always kept an eagle eye on Max over the years whenever we are out in public. One of us is either cupping his elbow, throwing an arm over his shoulder or just watching him walk in front of us. Usually, that is.
What happened was an eye-opener. Independence for your child with special needs isn't just about him being able to do stuff on his own. It's also about your learning to let go, sometimes literally. Max is capable of asking for help if need be. While he's not yet at the point where we could, say, drop him off at the mall by himself, we need to find more ways to let Max flex his independence. His school IEP has a bunch of life skill goals; I guess Dave and I need to make ourselves a PEP (Parent Education Plan) for better encouraging and enabling Max to do his own thing.
Afterward, we hit the boardwalk. Sabrina and Max walked ahead of us, pushing Ben in his stroller. Dave and I lagged behind, chatting, and I tried not to pay the kids much attention.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:35 AM