The photographer who will be shooting Max's bar mitzvah stopped by the other day to go over stuff.
"Should I take pictures of Daddy?" she asked.
"Yes!" said Max.
"Mommy?" she asked
"Yes!" Max acknowledged.
"NO!" said Max, with a big smile on his face. I had to laugh. He was joking—OK, half-joking since Sabrina is obnoxious to him lately. Sometimes, after she's been bugging him, he'll walk around the house and say "New sister!" As in, he would like a replacement.
Max has a great sense of humor. This will not come as a surprise to other parents of children with special needs. But I know it often astounds people who aren't familiar with kids who have special needs. I used to be one of them.
Before I had Max, I didn't have any children with special needs in my life. When I saw them in public, what I mostly noticed was the disability, and what I mostly felt was pity. Obviously, having Max wholly changed my perspective, one reason I share about him here—I hope others can see what it took me too long to know. Sometimes, people who don't know Max well remark, "Wow, he has a sense of humor!" I get why they this is surprising to them. I wish it weren't.
It isn't just Sabrina that Max laughingly teases. I misplace my iPhone approximately every five minutes, much to the amusement of everyone in my family. "Max, do you know where my phone is?" I asked the other day. He pointed to it. It was in my hand, along with some papers I was carrying. "Ha ha ha!" he announced, with perfect comical timing.
I can tease Max and he knows I'm being funny. When Dave got Max a chocolate milkshake the other day and left it in the fridge, I grabbed it and said, "Max! Thank you so much for the milkshake!" and he cracked up as he said "Noooooo!" When he is being stubborn about using his iPad to communicate and insists on repeatedly articulating a phrase, even though we can't understand it, he laughs when we purposefully make ridiculous guesses (see: "Want to buy a monkey?")
These days, Max appreciates the ridiculous, the silly and the gross. My Facebook friend Stacy J. and I were exchanging notes about this the other day. She mentioned that her son, who is severely disabled and doesn't see well, likes to kick his baby sister lightly and crack up at fart noises, as Max does.
Max doesn't yet do sarcasm. Although Sabrina has enough of it lately for the two of them, I hope he someday has a handle on that. He is, however a master of OMG!, and knows just when to say it for laughs:
Me: "Dave, your mom is coming over soon and I haven't even taken a shower yet!"
Max: "Oh m geeee!"
Back to Sabrina's presence in our family photos, and why I knew Max really was joking. Later that day, he did a practice session with the music teacher for his bar mitzvah. They got to the last song, which he's singing with Sabrina only she was nowhere to be found. Max walked around shouting for her and eventually she emerged from the basement, her preferred hiding spot. They sang it together loudly, Max grinning the whole time.