Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Heard the one about the comedian who won't stop ridiculing people with Down syndrome?

Heard the one about the comedian who makes fun of people with Down syndrome? Not funny, right? But Tom Segura thinks it is. And he's been refusing to remove the offensive, hurtful bit from his Netflix comedy special, Disgraceful. This despite the fact that people with Down syndrome, their families and other advocates have pressed him to do it for seven months straight now.

Disgraceful aired in January. There was this bit:

Followed by this scenario, in which he pretends to react to a friend's bad idea without being able to use the r-word:

Now you can't say that, you've gotta be like, "That's not smart. Your idea has an extra 21st chromosome, if you ask me." 

His point: Ijust doesn't have the same impact without the r-word.

Immediately, there was an outcry. Special Olympics, Best Buddies and a group of advocates appealed to Segura and Netflix. A Take It Down, Netflix change.org petition went up. After numerous email exchanges, there was a meeting in June with Segura; attendees included Special Olympic athletes and Global Messengers Dustin Plunkett and Rachel Osterbach, along with Nancy Gianni of Gigi's Playhouse and her daughter Isabell. Word is that Segura referenced removing the material, but later declined, as did Netflix. This weekend, an Op-Ed ran in the L.A. Times by a writer with two brothers who've participated in the Special Olympics denouncing him and Netflix, too.

When I've spoken out about the r-word over the years, some people have responded that other disparaging words will crop up to take their place. That's for sure. Now we have this so-called comedian who's actually made that part of his routine, and Netflix sees nothing wrong with it.

In his riff, Segura noted that the r-word typically isn't used these days to describe a person with Down syndrome—it typically describes a stupid idea or situation. He implied that caring about the usage of the word is ridiculous.

I'll tell you what's ridiculous:

Believing that this is the best comedic material you can come up with, and clinging to it. Because that's what you put into a routine, right? Your best material. This is the best this guy has.

I'll tell you what's ignorant:

Not understanding why the word is painful, even if it's not used to describe someone who has Down syndrome or intellectual disability. Using that word as a synonym for stupid or loser or annoying or whatever negative thing only reinforces old stereotypes, making life that much harder for people with intellectual disability like my son.

I'll tell you what's despicable and cruel:

While there are plenty of advocates with intellectual disability who can and do speak up for themselves, not all can—let alone children. Demeaning and debasing people who are defenseless, and roping others into laughing at them, is about as low as you can go.

I'll tell you what's extra sad and pathetic:

Blatantly ignoring the efforts of people who are often mistreated to gain respect for themselves. I just don't get how it's possible sit in a room with self-advocates who have Down syndrome—the very people you've degraded; hear their reasoning; then turn them down.

We've been down this road before. A couple of years ago, another comedian had a special—this one on Showtime—in which he demeaned a supposed cousin of his with Down syndrome. After considerable protest, Showtime removed the program from its lineup. The comedian took the material out of his skit.

Really, there's only one inarguable point here: People with Down syndrome and intellectual disability are not laughable human beings. My son is not a laughable human being. Make fun of human foibles all you want, as comedians often do—but quit seeing disabilities as defects. We certainly don't see it that way. My son is all-around awesome. Also: He's got way higher emotional intelligence than Tom Segura.


You can sign the petition asking Netflix to remove the material from the show here

Monday, July 16, 2018

He saw a movie by himself and other unexpected milestones

"I want to see Incredibles 2!" Max announced. We were upstate NY two days before Sabrina's camp Visiting Day. We'd decided to make a weekend of it, so I'd booked us into an Airbnb cottage and we had time to chill. As we walked around a cute town Friday evening, Max spotted the movie theater.

Now, Max wanting to see Incredibles 2 was not unexpected. So far, he's seen it four times and it seemed inevitable he'd want to go again. What was unexpected was what he said next: 


He wanted to go to the movie by himself.

I guess I wasn't totally surprised, because Max has been pushing for more independence. (See: "I want to take an Uber.") I also suspected it was a measure of self-preservation—Dave and I have each seen it with him, and Max probably figured he couldn't get us to see it again. 

WeI talked about it. There was a matinee on Saturday at 12:15. We were in a small town. We could get Max seated in the theater, have lunch nearby and check on him. "Yes," we said.   

The next day, after an early breakfast, we checked out a Farmer's Market and a few stores. At around 9:30, Max started asking to go to the movie theater. We held him off till 11:15, at which point we got him a ticket and got him settled in the empty movie theater, toward the back. 

"Bye!" he said. 

I left, feeling a little nervous. We hung with Ben at a nearby playground for a bit. I kept picturing Max in that theater, alone. Thoughts of pervs flashed through my head. Should we have left him there? I went back into the theater as the movie started. A bunch of people were there. Max startled when I whispered "Hi! You OK?"

"Yes!" he nodded, not even looking at me.

I kissed him and walked out. We went to lunch. Then Dave went in and walked out a bit later with Max, who had the hugest grin on his face.

"Did you enjoy seeing it again?" I asked.

"Yes!" he said.

Later, Dave and I were talking about it.

"Did you ever imagine Max would see a movie by himself?" he asked. 

"No, I never imagined it," I said. "There was a time when I couldn't have even imagined he'd even see a movie!"

It's true. I don't have expectations for Max doing stuff he currently doesn't do. Not because I don't think he's capable, but because I know he's on his own timeline and he'll do stuff when he's ready...or not. Heck, I can't even remember when I first saw a movie in a theater by myself, or what it was. I'd guess in my twenties. Definitely not at fifteen. 

When Max was younger, movie theaters scared him. We were able to take him to see drive-in movies first. But when Monsters University came to the theater in our town, Max said he'd try to see it. And he did. And, whoa, that was five years ago this weekend—so I guess major movie events in Max's life happen every five years. Who knows, maybe in five years he'll be starring in some summer blockbuster. 

Two thumbs up to my big guy.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up: post!

What to do if you're new here

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written, or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Hey, Starbucks, ditching plastic straws isn't good for people with disabilities

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sometimes, it's hard to imagine people who aren't like you, but that's no excuse not to care

Until I had Max, it never occurred to me that a baby could have issues with drinking or eating. But Max did. The cerebral palsy impaired his ability to suck and swallow. When I nursed him, it could literally take an hour. When he started taking bottles, we had to place multiple diaper cloths beneath his chin and over his chest to absorb the milk that would dribble out of his mouth. When began to eat baby food, it would also take a very long time because he would thrust out a portion of the spoonful and we'd have to spoon it back in.

Before Max came along, I really didn't know much at all about cerebral palsy or how it could affect a body's function. I'm thinking about this today because of the reaction to the news that Starbucks will be ditching plastic straws and instead offering up paper or compostable ones to those who need them.
A lot of people out there didn't get what the big deal was for people with disabilities, although parents of children with disabilities and adults with disabilities did our best to explain it.

I understand why people don't get it, because I was once that person—but it was disturbing that some people were being downright ableist.

People questioned: Why can't people with disabilities bring their own straws to Starbucks?

Well, because if you're forking up the bucks for a Starbucks drink, you darn well deserve to be able to drink it without BYO-ing anything. The onus shouldn't be on the person with disability to figure out how to consume a $4.00 latte.

Others questioned: Don't people with disabilities care about the environment?!  

Heck yeah, of course PWD care about the environment, but they also need to live their lives. Announcing that a tool that's vital to their existence will be disappearing without offering an equivalent replacement isn't OK.

And yet more wondered: Why is this another battle that has to be fought?

I'm not a PWD—I'm the mother of a child with disabilities. Still, if I point out that plastic straws are useful to my child with cerebral palsy, and ask for Starbucks to come up with an eco-friendly version because they're planning to get rid of them, there is no reason to question or oppose me. Same goes for people with disabilities who've spoken out about this. There's no ulterior motive here, no desire to be oppositional for the sake of being combative. What's at hand is a basic human need, and a basic human right.

For sure, I have a whole lot of other stuff to content with and battles to fight to help my son. But people with disabilities deserve to have access to all things in life, frappes included.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The special joys of your last child

"Are you having a completely different experience than you did with Max?" the woman asked me. I knew her from our area; we'd bumped into each other in the park as Ben was climbing the jungle gym. I understood the meaning of the question: Because your first son has disabilities, is raising a child who doesn't have them very different?

"Yes—and I had a completely different experience with my daughter, too!" I told her. "Raising every kid is a whole other experience. But honestly, I think the main thing that makes this time around feel so different is that we're experienced parents, and we know he's our last child."

It's true. What's making parenthood the third time so distinctive is because we know we're not having any more kids, and we're relishing the big and little moments with Ben. We took him to A Day Out With Thomas over the weekend. It was the highlight of his young life, but I think there's a chance Dave and I enjoyed it even more.

We didn't tell Ben we were going, we just surprised him. At first he couldn't even smile, he was so awestruck. But when we went on the 25-minute ride to and from nowhere  (aka Sodor), he was gleeful. I'd brought along his Thomas whistle and he blew it happily, making the kids seated behind us laugh.

I felt giddy watching him enjoying himself. I giggled when he did at the puppet show. I felt like I was seeing the world anew through his eyes. I marveled at just how absorbed he was in the tent that had several Thomas tracks with trains chugging around them..

I've been down similar roads before. I can still remember the exact smile on Sabrina's face when she met the princesses in a little room at Disney World, and how Max looked when he first encountered Lightning McQueen in Cars Land at Disneyland. (He liked Thomas enough, but his true love was Lightning). As a parent, your children's joys are your own. But it's been a while since we experienced the pure joy of meeting a favorite character, and we know all too well how fast the time goes by and suddenly your children have developed entirely new obsessions (like, say, overpriced teen costume jewelry and moving to Orlando).

And so, we savor the moments: reading to Ben at bedtime, watching him "swimming" in the pool, hearing his made up words ("LOOKIT! A bug!"), appreciating his art projects, celebrating his "I did it!" moments, seeing him try new foods (he's taken to asking "Is it spicy?"), pushing him higher and higher in the swing as he says "To the sky!", cherishing the naughty-yet-hysterical things he does, like how he says "Sorry!" right before he pushes entire stacks of papers off the kitchen counter. I am fascinated by his habit of lying on the floor and rolling trains back and forth and back and forth. I lie down and watch him, too.

When I pick him up from camp on Mondays and the counselor walks him out the door and he trots down the path and says "Hi, Mommy!" so excitedly in his sweet little voice, I melt. There are times when we are driving in the car and I take his hand (he likes me to sit in the back seat with him) and just stare at the little indents where knuckles should be and the line around his wrist that is still there but will soon go away. Dave and I get a little sad with his development; he used to say "onish" for ocean and lotion, but now he says them correctly. We will likely be despondent when he quits asking for a "bottie," his word for a cup of milk; stops confusing his pronouns (he'll say "carry you!" for "carry me!"); and no longer refers to himself in the third person ("Ben likes football!" "Ben likes chocolate!") Soon, he'll be toilet trained and so long, diapers. And while I can't say we will miss the blowouts, those times when we stare down at him on the changing table are irreplaceable.

And the way he runs, not walks, everywhere.

And how his lashes look when he cries.

And how his mouth looks like he is sleeping and how he sleeps with his butt in the air and the way he holds his hands up for me to take him out of the crib when he gets up.

And the way he adores having his feet rubbed while he sucks his thumb.

Oh, the thumb sucking.

And how he says "It's 8:40!" every single time when we ask him what the time is.

And the way he looks in his little collared shirts.

And his little socks.

And his sun hats.

And how he announces "Ben goes pee pee in the potty!" when he's done.

And the way he sucks on the toothbrush instead of brushing.

And how he throws a ball, with all his might.

And how he says "Mommy, help!" when he needs a hand climbing in the park.

Oh, there are so many little things he does and says and as in the moment I may be, there is that voice in the back of my head saying that soon this will pass, making me appreciate just how precious it all is.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Hey, Starbucks, ditching plastic straws isn't good for people with disabilities

Following on the heels of Seattle's ban of plastic straws and utensils, yesterday Starbucks announced that it would eliminate plastic straws by 2020 in all 28,000 of its stores worldwide. Environmental advocates were excited, as the straws are not recyclable. But it was not good news for people with disabilities, who depend on flexible plastic straws.

Max has yet to master drinking from a straw; the cerebral palsy, which impacts his oral-motor function, makes sucking up liquids and swallowing a challenge for him. He works on it during speech therapy sessions and with us, too. We like the straws at Starbucks; they're pretty sturdy. Ditto for the ones from Burger King. Both come in handy for practicing. Not that I know any mother who'd swipe straws so her child could succeed in slurping.

Starbucks says that straws made from "alternative materials—including paper or compostable plastic" will be available by request for customers who prefer or need a straw. But they could be problematic for people with disabilities.

It takes Max a long time to practice drinking with a straw, which is why paper ones won't work—they'd get soggy and could disintegrate in his mouth, posing a choking hazard. He also can't control his bite so well, and could chomp off a piece of a paper one and choke on it. The same goes for adults with disabilities. Some people who have issues with coordinating swallowing drink through straws for safety reasons; a straw can facilitate swallowing so that a person doesn't aspirate and get liquid in their lungs, potentially leading to pneumonia. 

"Metal, glass and bamboo straws present obvious dangers for people who have difficulty controlling their bite, as well as those with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's," writes Jamie Szymkowiak, cofounder of the Scottish disability rights group One in Five, in a guest post for Greenpeace. "Some disabled people use straws when drinking coffee or eating soup, yet most of the alternatives—including the leading biodegradable straw—are not suitable for drinks over 40 degrees." Carrying around a reusable straw isn't an option for adults with disabilities who may have issues cleaning it. 

Banning straws is trending. The EU recently banned plastic straws and utensils. Starbucks' proposed replacement, strawless lids with a raised part (they've been called "adult sippy cups") aren't going to be an option for people who have issues grasping a cup or controlling the flow of liquid. 

Eliminating straws came in response, Starbucks says, to requests from partners and customers. Says Colleen Chapman, a Starbucks v.p. who oversees sustainability, "Not using a straw is the best thing we can do for the environment." That may be true, but coming up with eco-friendly straws that are sturdy yet flexible and can be used in hot and cold liquids is the best thing you can do for the planet and people with disabilities. Ditto for roping them into a discussion about what works for them.

One of Max's favorite weekend activities is stopping by Starbucks for a milk fix. Straight up. Cold. Starbucks is one of his happy places. I'd like to think it will continue to be welcoming to him, and all people with disabilities. 

Images: Sarah Miller, Flickr/courtesy of Starbucks

Monday, July 9, 2018

He sees palm trees everywhere

Dave has long had a thing for palm trees, mainly because he wishes he lived in California. When we first moved to the 'burbs fifteen years ago, the year I was pregnant with Max, he looked into whether we could possibly have one in our backyard. Hardy palms can grow in the Northeast, but once Max came along we never got around to it.

Max has caught Dave's palm tree fixation. This is because Max is planning to move to Orlando. Lately, he's seeing palm trees everywhere.

A few weeks ago, we were sitting in our porch when he started gesturing across the street and saying something I couldn't understand. It took a while for me to realize what he was pointing to: the giant weed trees on our street. It took a little longer for me to realize what he was saying: palm trees.

I had to laugh. This patch of woods typically gets to be an overgrown eyesore as the summer goes on. But there was Max, seeing palm trees.

"Yes, I can see how that looks like palm trees!" I said.

"It is!" he responded.

I wasn't going to argue. Especially because for the last few months, he's been telling us how much he hates our area. Because it isn't Orlando. At least he'd found something to appreciate.

After that, when we'd go out driving, he'd occasionally point out the window excitedly and say "palm tree!"

And I'd say, "Yes, that looks like a palm tree!"

It's kind of awesome to go through life thinking that you see palm trees everywhere. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up: put 'em up

What to do if you're new here

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written, or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: The report card I never thought I'd see

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

We did something right with this parenting thing

Unlike school, work and the lottery, you never really do know the results of your parenting skills. I mean, you try your best to raise your kids right and do well by them, but there's no measured way to tell how you're doing. Except for those moments when they do something that blows your mind and you think, we must be doing something right. Dave and I had one of those moments yesterday.

I'd emailed Sabrina's camp director to ask how she was doing. She wasn't entirely thrilled about the bunk she was in, plus it's been seriously hot and she doesn't do so well in the heat; I had to send her a fan. He called and said the heat had broken, and that he'd spoken with her and she told him she was happy. We talked about the upcoming visiting day, and I asked if Max might be able to get a golf cart ride. I explained that he had disabilities, and that although sometimes he gets tired walking around camp, he really just loves golf cart rides.

"I think that's possible—find me and I'll arrange it," the camp director said to me. "He has cerebral palsy, right?" 

I said yes.

He said, "I only know that because Sabrina told me, I'm glad we're talking because I meant to call you and tell you what happened." He proceeded to tell me that the other day, she had seen him, pulled him aside and told him that he needed to start a program for youth with disabilities at the camp. "That way, my brother can go here," she said. She noted that other branches of the camp have these programs; Max attends one in another state.

My heart caught. Sabrina and Max are like any siblings: they fight and get on each other's nerves. Sometimes they're sweet. She doesn't treat him particularly special, although she is there to lend him a hand when he needs it. A few weeks ago, for the first time Dave and I went out to dinner and left the kids at home with Sabrina, who helped Max get into his pajamas at bedtime. I was careful to make sure she was up for doing it, and she was—it was no big deal.

For the past year, Sabrina has been volunteering at a monthly temple service program for adults with disabilities. She started doing it as her bat mitzvah community project, and has kept it up. She also volunteers with The Friendship Circle, which offers programs for youth with disabilities—Max has been a regular there for years. I know of a lot of people who've become teachers for students with disabilities and therapists because they had family members with disabilities, and I've often wondered if that could be Sabrina someday. It was seriously amazing to find out that advocacy runs in her veins.

"Oh, and she knew that it would take money to pull off because she said to me, 'My parents know people with a lot of money and they can help!'" the camp director continued.

That made me laugh; I had no idea who she meant.

"It was one of my best moments as a camp director," he told me.

It was one of my best moments as a parent.

I'd actually had a conversation five years ago with someone who runs the camp's inclusion program. He basically said it wouldn't work for Max, because he needed life skills help and an assistant I'd have to find. He didn't sound positive about it. The program was geared toward more independent youth with disabilities who didn't have physical challenges. Max was turned away from a few camp programs for the same reason. I was disappointed, disheartened and frustrated, but didn't push back—if a camp didn't feel prepared to handle Max, I didn't want him there.

And then, a woman I met through the blog ended up starting a program at another branch of the camp. Max was literally one of the first campers admitted, and this will be his third year there. He is the only camper with cerebral palsy, and it hasn't mattered—they've made it work for him. See: Where there's a will, there's a way.

Sabrina's camp director and I spoke about the possibility of a program. He said he wanted it to happen, but the camp was at capacity. I noted that the other camp had built a bunk, and he said they were literally out of space. He felt confident he could get the funding, however, and joked that Sabrina could be in charge of development. He said they'd soon be working on goals for the camp, this would be one of them and that he hoped to figure it out.

I'd been in the car with Dave when I got the call. After I hung up, I told him the story.

"Wow," he said.

And he smiled and I smiled and we drove on, beaming with pride.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Fourth of July fun for kids and teens with sensory needs

Our town has a fireworks display in the park every year. Families spread out blankets and chairs across the lawn and picnic until the display starts. We have never been one of them—well, not all together, anyway. Max cannot handle fireworks. While he's outgrown a lot of his sensitivity to noise, they are still too loud for him to handle when he's nearby, even though he's interested in them.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Easter, the Fourth of July: whatever the holiday, it can be hard on children and teens with disabilities. Routines get upset, there's a whole lot of hustle and bustle and, come the Fourth, crowds, loud noises and flashing lights. These times can be challenging for us parents, too, as we have to uproot ingrained ideas of what a "great" holiday means.

Like other families with children who have sensory needs, we've found that the best way to celebrate is with alterna-traditions. We've watched the fireworks on TV and had ice-cream. In other years, Sabrina and I went to the park while Dave parked the car blocks away from the park and he and Max watched from there. Last year, the two of them sat in town outside the fro-yo shop; they basically had the street to themselves because everyone was in the park. Max downed his usual fix (chocolate and vanilla swirl) and watched the sky light up.

Some parents find that noise-cancelling headphones do the trick, even better if you can play music through them. Some just do drive-bys. Others celebrate with sparklers at home. Whether or not you have a child with special needs, there's a lot to be said about staying in. As my Facebook pal Rick puts it, "Usually the Boston fireworks and concert is televised, and I like watching the show in my nice air-conditioned living room rather than in the huge crowd on the esplanade!"

This Fourth of July, Max and Sabrina are away in camp, and we'll just have Ben around. People in our area were lighting up fireworks last night and the poor little guy woke up, shrieking, because he was scared. So it looks like tonight, we again won't be one of those families on the lawn—and that's perfectly OK. Maybe we'll do the fro-yo thing. Maybe we'll watch them on TV. Maybe we'll park the car somewhere and watch from afar. Maybe we'll come up with a whole other idea.

Whatever we do, it'll be our own kind of fun.

Here's to having your version of fun on the Fourth.

Image: Flickr/StevenTulanay

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The report card I never thought I'd see

Max's report card came in the mail last week, while we were away for a few days. I opened it up last night and squealed: almost straight A's.

This is the first year in Max's academic history that he's gotten grades; in elementary and middle school, he received scores that reflected his progress toward the goals in his IEP (I = Introduced, LP = limited progress, P = Progress, A = achieved, etc.). This report card also touches on work habits: 1 = completes assignments; 2 = attentive and follows directions; 3 = works independently; 4 = demonstrates initiative; 5 = organizes time and material; and 6 = participates in class.

I had one of those if-the-NICU-doctors-could-see-him-now moments. Oh, they were so gloomy and doom-y. I also had one of those if-the-me-back-then-could-see-him-now moments. Because the doctors' gloom and doom seeped into my heart and head, drowning my hopes and leaving me filled with anxiety about what the future held for my boy.

While I have learned not to pay that much attention to standardized tests that measure Max's aptitude, since they do not reveal his true capabilities, it was a thrill to see all the great grades in his report card. He's away at camp and I'm excited to show them to him when he's back.

Max's grades are mostly a reflection of his effort and enthusiasm in class, his homework and projects; he does not get tests. He never has, actually. This has given me pause over the years; why shouldn't Max be expected to prove his knowledge, as students in mainstream classes are? Why shouldn't he reap the satisfaction of showing how much he knows? The tests wouldn't have to be lengthy. They could even be done orally, or administered some other way.

I dealt with the other end of the spectrum last week with Sabrina. Her grades came out, and while they were overall really good I contacted the middle school director to question one. I was told that 90 percent of the grade was based on tests, plus 5 percent for class participation and 5 percent for homework. That made me fume; why put so much emphasis on tests? What does that teach students?! This is not some high-pressure Fortune 500 gig, where only results matter; these are the formative years of middle school, where teachers should be instilling confidence, applauding effort and encouraging enthusiasm for learning.

I remain dubious about Max's lack of tests.

I remain concerned about teachers who think tests are the end all, be all.

I am really, really glad it's summer.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Max has checked out of our house

Max returned from six days at sleepaway camp on Saturday and announced that he'd like to go to a Holiday Inn that evening. 

He's doing a few different camp stints. As with last summer, we opted for camp over the extended school year. The very next day, Max was headed off to another one. No matter—he needed a hotel stay in between. I asked Dave what was up with that. "He's in vacation mode," he noted. "He doesn't want to come home." OK, then.

Max has had a thing for Holiday Inn ever since he and Dave stayed at one last February on a surprise birthday trip to Disney World. He sometimes randomly asks to go to one. This time, in his mind, he had just cause because you don't stay at home when you're on vacation, right?

We have a history of indulging Max's whims, within reason. We got him all sorts of purple paraphernalia during The Purple Phase. We let him eat spaghetti for lunch and dinner (and sometimes, breakfast) during The Spaghetti Phase. We took him to regular car washes during The Car Wash Phase. We bought him a whole lot of Cars 2 merchandise during The Cars 2 Lightning McQueen phase. We brought him to our local fire stations countless times once he decided to be a firefighter (ongoing).

But some of his passions aren't cheap. Like Disney World visits, and hotel stays. Although it was Holiday Inn. And, hey, Dave had credit card points he could apply toward a visit. And so, we indulged Max. Saturday night, he and Dave crashed at a Holiday Inn close to camp. They had burgers and milkshakes for dinner. They made a trip to Home Depot, Max's happy place. They chilled in the room and watched HGTV. They had breakfast burritos and oatmeal in the morning before Max took Dave to see a matinee of Incredibles 2 (it was Max's fourth time seeing the movie, but who's counting). Then Dave dropped him off at camp.

I could stand to take some enjoy-your-life lessons from Max.

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