Over the weekend, we took Ben to the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. It's been a long time since we were there, and the place has been completely redone. Now kids can do things like make custom wrappers for crayons, create spin art out of melted crayons and play all sorts of colorific video games.
Although the place looked totally different from when we were there with Max and Sabrina (who are in cam), the memories came flooding back. Max wailing because it was crowded. Max not wanting to do any coloring because holding crayons was hard. As we stood in front of a vending machine to purchase a few packets of Model Magic, I thought back to how we used to use this stuff to wrap around crayons and spoon handles to make them easier for Max to hold.
The flashbacks happen whenever our family visits places we took Max to when he was little, everywhere from amusement parks to our town's movie theater where Max saw his first movie. Suddenly, I am acutely aware of just how much progress Max has made. Ditto for school performances, which used to be a certain form of torture but now Max hams it up.
Max's first time at the movies (Monsters University)
Ben's first time at the movies, this weekend (Toy Story 4)
I never take Max's progress for granted. But the days go by and the weeks go by and, well, I just don't pause to consider because Max is Max and he is who he is. But: Y-E-S. THE PROGRESS.
These days, we can't keep Max at home—he wants to explore new places, attend events, try new restaurants, you name it. He still not into coloring, but he likes painting signs and his writing has seriously improved. We no longer use Model Magic. He does best when writing or coloring utensils are encased in foam tubing (for more info, here's a post about helping kids with disabilities write and draw), but he can hold a paintbrush pretty well. I mean, check out this camp masterpiece.
People who haven't seen Max in a while are often wowed by how big he is (sixteen!) and how far he has come. Those are yet other times when I realize the leaps and bounds Max has made. But nothing is more potent than being in the same places that used to cause Max, along with me and Dave, much distress.
We took Ben to our town's Fourth of July fireworks last week. He made it onto the field, which was farther than we'd ever gotten with Max. As soon as the first one exploded in the air, Ben jumped into my arms. Then he put his fingers in his ears. Five minutes later, he asked to leave. His fingers stayed in his ears the entire walk home, and he was so shook up he asked to sleep in our bed.
Someday, maybe we'll take Ben to that field and he'll love the fireworks and I'll think back to little Ben and how afraid he was and much progress he's made. Or maybe he'll never be into fireworks, and that'll be cool, too. As Max has taught me, children don't always enjoy themselves in the way that you hope or expect—but there are plenty of ways to live and love life. You just have to realize it.