Monday, June 2, 2014
Max takes a walk I will never forget
It was a glorious day yesterday—not too hot, no humidity, sunny, nobody was whiny. Early evening, Max was wheeling a stroller back and forth in front of our house as I trimmed the hydrangea bushes, which took a beating this winter.
It's a Maclaren adaptive stroller one of Max's physical therapists gave to him years ago. He can still fit into it and once in a while, if we're going for a long walk, we take it with us in case Max gets tired. Mostly, though, Max just likes wheeling it around.
A cool couple from the next block and their kids came down the block. Max went over to tell them about his fireman aspirations. Lately, he wears his plastic red Fire Chief hat all the time except for sleeping and school and (with some convincing) bath time. I was busy hacking away at dead wood and wasn't paying much attention, other than when the little girl pretended to be on fire and Max started chasing her making siren sounds which made me smile.
Then the family started to head off. Max trailed after them. "We're going for a walk around the block," I heard the mom say.
"Max, stop," I said. I needed to finish fixing up the bushes before dinner or they'd never get done, and didn't have time to go for a walk.
"Oh, he can come with us," the mom said.
I was a little shocked. Because never has another parent in our area offered to let Max come along for a walk with their kids. Never. It's not that the other neighborhood moms aren't nice—they all are. I think they just may be hesitant to handle a kid with special needs. But not this mom, not this time.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"Yes!" she said. "No problem."
She, her husband, their two kids and Max went off as I stared, awestruck, processing what had just happened. What may have seemed uneventful to this mom was a major moment for me and for Max, too.
Either Dave or I are always with Max when he's out; he's not a kid who can just go knock on another kid's door or cruise around the neighborhood with other boys. This is our life, and I usually don't think twice about it except in early spring, when all the kids start playing outside.
Standing in our front yard, though, I mulled over how for the last 11 years I've always been by Max's side when he's at play. As a toddler, he never did floor time alone—Dave or I were there with him, helping him play. As an older kid, he still needs a hand with playing, painting, getting together with other kids or whatever fun is involved. Granted, he will happily sit alone in our living room glued to the TV or firefighter videos on YouTube, but we limit his time because otherwise, he'd watch for hours on end. (Max is fully capable of snagging the Guinness Book of World Records title for Longest Length of Screen Time by a Child.)
It's only recently that Max started playing alone. A couple years ago, I got him a Lightning McQueen computer and lately he likes sitting in his room and using it. I have to say, it's been a relief to see him doing that. It is a heavy responsibility to constantly engage and enable a child.
Yet there Max was, rounding the corner with the family. I was thrilled. I thought about how it was so good for Max's independence to know that he didn't have to rely on just me and Dave. I wondered if he was going to try and sucker them into walking to town for ice-cream, as he often convinces Marshmallow Daddy to do.
Maybe 10 minutes later, they returned. Max wanted to go into their house with them, so I headed over to lure him back because it was dinnertime. After a little persuading, he came.
"Thanks!" I said to the mom, when what I really wanted to do was throw my arms around her and give her a great, big hug.
That's an awesome story and just goes to show how much progress Max has made! I only wish there were more families like that :)ReplyDelete
Max is making friends! That is so cool. Just another kid on the block, and that's something to be proud of for sure. :)ReplyDelete
How nice of that mom and you are right it is great for Max'sReplyDelete
What a wonderful story!ReplyDelete
I walk around school with my friend. It's in my routine.ReplyDelete
I love this. I hope the mom reads your post!ReplyDelete
Thank you...filled my heart with hope for a monday!!!! Love you Max!!!ReplyDelete
You did give her a great big hug! It was this essay. :-)ReplyDelete
I have tears at my desk. And I thank you for them <3ReplyDelete
Love this story!ReplyDelete
Great story! So proud of Max. This gives me so much hope!ReplyDelete
What a great family! I'm glad your neighborhood has people like that in it.ReplyDelete
Speaking of Lightning McQueen, we bought my kid this http://www.amazon.com/Disney-Pixar-Cars-Stuck-Stories/dp/2764320701 and every time we read it I think of Max. The pages are thick and sturdy, easier to turn than paper, and the suction cups are pretty strong and stick to the slick pages... or to windows or whatever. If you're still looking for fun ways to work on pincer grasp, picking these up, moving them around, and pulling them off the page might help?
Oh, I love this so much!ReplyDelete
"This is our life, and I usually don't think twice about it except in early spring, when all the kids start playing outside. " that is my life too.. I cried when I read this story.. they were tears of happiness for you :)ReplyDelete
This makes me so very very happy for you, Dave and Max.ReplyDelete
What an awesome milestone for Max and for you! What a blessing that this family opened up and included Max in their outing. I know it can be hard sometimes as a mom of a special needs child to let go and let someone else step in and offer help and assistance, too. My 91 year old mother still thinks at times that she is the only one who can care for my disabled sister properly. We have to constantly remind her that not only do we enjoy spending time with and helping our disabled sister, but we enjoy being able to help our mother, too. We also remind her frequently that it is good for our sister to realize that there are many other people who care for her and will be there for her when mom is gone one day. I am not saying that you are this way, just commenting on how hard it can be to let go when you have had to be everything to a child for so long. I love your blog and wish happy fireman dreams to Max.ReplyDelete
That is just all kinds of awesome! Win for all of you! :)ReplyDelete
Wonderful. So happy for Max!ReplyDelete
I love this. I feel like its such a milestone - for any kid, regardless of his/her ability level - to play with other kids and/or hang out with another mom. So glad you got to experience this milestone!ReplyDelete
Love, love, love this!!!!ReplyDelete
Oh, Ellen, you've made me cry again. How wonderful!ReplyDelete
Oh I cried. I hope the other mom reads this (perhaps print it for her as that hug you were talking about). I know I am guilty of not looking beyond the busy part of raising my own children to see what could help another mother, another child. Kudos to her and kudos to you for letting go and allowing it.ReplyDelete
"It is a heavy responsibility to constantly engage and enable a child." I love the way you can put the everyday into words. This is very true. We do it with love, but it can be draining! What a happy day for both you and Max.ReplyDelete
I just read this over at Huffington Post and had to come by and comment. So very beautifully written and worded. Thank you for sharing and for the reminder that sometimes a small gesture goes an incredibly long way.ReplyDelete
Ellen, this made me tear up. It's these milestones for our kids that mean so much.ReplyDelete
That's huge. I can still remember the first time I let my son out of my sight. It was with my brother in law, but I felt like a major organ had been ripped from my body and carried off.ReplyDelete
Wow! What a big step for Max.ReplyDelete