Thursday, August 23, 2018

Every child needs a person like this in their life

Max came home from day camp this week wearing a name tag for the red group. "Fireman Max" had been handwritten onto it. Max was actually in the blue group, but he didn't think that made sense given that red is his favorite color. He'd started harumping about it when I dropped him off on the first morning. June, his group leader, didn't blink an eye. She's fully aware that Max is all about red and aspires to be a firefighter, and created the name tag for him.

June gets Max. She's known him since he was about seven years old; we met through the Friendship Circle, where she's a longtime volunteer. She has adored him from day one.

"Thinking of my friend in DC!" she'll text me, with a picture of a fire truck. One year, when she was on winter vacation in Florida, we got a pic of Santa on a fire truck. She's always looking out for his well-being. Max wears bandana bibs and a few months ago, she let me know about a bib company she'd found on Etsy.

Max adores June right back. A while ago, she had him over to her house for a mac 'n cheese lunch, and he still talks about it. She may be a few decades older, but friendship has no age limits.

It for sure takes a village to raise a child with disabilities, yet sometimes just one person can make all the difference. When Max is around June, I know he feels the warmth of her love (and she is a particularly warm and cheerful person). I have the peace of knowing that he's with someone who adores and respects him, who strives to make him happy and who doesn't think twice about his physical needs. "Max will need help with eating his sandwich" I'll text her, and then not give it a second thought. I often do worry about Max choking on a food when I'm not there for mealtime, because chewing is a challenge for him, but I know he's safe with June. I feel the same way when Max is with my Mom, but it's a special gift to have a person like this in your child's life outside of your family.

June drove Max and Sabrina home from camp the other day (Sabrina is volunteering), and when it was getting late I called. They were at a fire station in her town—June had surprised him. She knows just how to make Max gleeful. And that makes me really, really happy.

Here's hoping you have a June in your life.

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Thanks for sharing!

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