Recently, our family had a festive holiday outing in our nearest city, and it left us feeling…normal. We put our three children in their precious holiday attire (Thanks Aunt Kristi and Uncle Frank!), paraded them onto Santa’s lap, cruised around the mall, enjoyed the tasty options provided by the food court, swung by the store on our way home, then enjoyed a nice evening watching a movie and drinking hot chocolate.
All of this was accomplished over the course of many hours without one sibling blow-out, and without the uncontrollable outbursts that sometimes take control of Eddie. After the kids were tucked in, my husband and I looked at each other and were simply astounded. He spoke my thoughts as he asked, “Is this what being a normal family feels like?”
This feat was not accomplished without the help of many throughout our day. Eddie’s physical therapy office offered the Santa pictures, goodies, and holiday activities like decorating cookies (which Eddie’s sisters loved.) At the same time, they had every therapy swing in their office hanging, which kept Eddie entertained for as long as necessary. They even had Santa in a private room, so our family could get a photo without the chaos of other children, and without the stress of waiting in line.
Eddie certainly took his time tactually exploring Santa. He sat down on his knee, and then checked out every piece of his costume that was within reach. First, he found his belt, and checked out every fine detail of his buckle. Next, he found Santa’s hat, and promptly tried to remove it for closer inspection. Finally, he spent a great deal of time quietly exploring Santa’s beard, and may have left a small piece of gum behind. (Shhh…)
After the blessing of a holiday event catered to kids like Eddie, we decided to tackle the mall. Eddie has some challenges walking great distances, so we didn’t know how long he’d last. He managed to walk for over thirty minutes, but we knew our time was short. We also knew his sisters were certainly not done “cruising” the mall. Luckily, we came across the security office, which was happy to loan us a wheelchair.
I must say, the idea of a wheelchair doesn’t sit well with me. I feel, if he doesn’t use those legs, he isn’t going to get stronger. My instinct is to push Eddie very hard, so he knows we believe in him, and that he can do it. However, in the spirit of continuing our outing, I was ecstatic to plop him in the chair. This indulgence granted to him, gave us two extra mall-hours, and allowed us to sit and eat dinner without utter chaos.
Going to town, is an outing that we hardly ever take on with all three children. The stress level gets high, Eddie’s mood swings wildly, and we come home feeling that family time for us will never be enjoyable. This past Saturday was a true gift. Maybe the best gift I will receive this entire holiday season.
For one day, we enjoyed the gift of normalcy. Funny, that to achieve normalcy we had to see Santa at a physical therapy office, and then push our son around the mall in a wheelchair. I guess that doesn’t sound very normal. But in reality, we were able to simply get our children dressed up, sit on Santa’s lap, and stroll through a mall on our own time. That sounds pretty normal to me.
I feel blessed to have been granted such a day, but still grateful for all the uniqueness in our daily lives. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend a holiday outing with any other kids, or in any other way. I’m thankful for this gift of normalcy, and that the “normal” I speak of is still on our terms, and with our son.