"It's for kids," Dave said. That was his response when I asked whether he'd bought a bird-feeding stick for Max. We were inside the aviary of our local zoo, along with 500 parakeets. Visitors can buy feed sticks; Dave had only gotten one for Ben.
"But Max will want to do this too!" I told Dave. "Right, Max?" Max nodded eagerly. Dave went back to the entrance and got him the feed stick, and we proceeded to walk around and give the birds some lunch. Sabrina was at a party, missing out on all the feathered fun.
Sometimes, Dave and I are both guilty of thinking of Max is "too old" for certain things—going on kid rides, pushing around his old stroller, wearing his firefighter hat, sitting in the driver's seat and pretending to steer our minivan as it's parked in the driveway. I wish we didn't feel these twinges, but we do. They're irrelevant to Max's well-being.
As Max has taught us from early on in his life, he is on nobody's timeline but his own. That includes his development, along with the things that make him happy. Perhaps he will always find joy in them. Shouldn't that be all that matters? Well, yes...but then there's the part of us concerned about Max's progress and place in this world. And Max's contentment and our anxieties about his future don't always peacefully coexist.
I have juvenile pleasures, to be sure. A big bowl of Froot Loops with ice-cold whole milk? Yes, please. Popping bubble wrap: bring it! Riding on a ferris wheel, swinging on a swing, drawing my name on a steam-heated mirror, peeling Elmer's Glue off my fingers, hiding under the covers, eating p.b. from the jar: good times. Arron Crascall, not exactly the epitome of sophisticated humor, makes me laugh-cry. What right do I have to question whether Max is too old to enjoy anything?
"OK, I take it back," Dave said as he watched how excited Max was to feed the birds. I loved seeing Max hold his hand up, not a simple move for him.
Ben was having a blast, too. He and Max had a little competition going about who could attract more birds. Then I caught Ben about to nibble on the bird stick. Time to go see the bears!
I mean, really, who's the one stuck developmentally—Max or me and Dave?! One of these days, we'll stop questioning and accept the truth: what makes you happy makes you happy, period.