Always casual, Violet declined to meet me for coffee but invited me to play blocks instead. She wore her favorite t-shirt (a cheeseburger driving a car on orange jersey) and a diaper; her hair was stylishly tousled as if she’d just awoken from a nap.
Mommy: Do you know what it means to be thankful?
M: Is it like things you like? You’re thankful for things you like?
My son is three-and-a-half years old, and he attends a developmental delay preschool. It’s an amazing program, available for children who qualify as having significant delay in at least two areas (for Sam, it’s speech and fine motor, though they are in the process of adding gross motor to this list as well). They get up four days a week, get on a school bus, and go to school like the big kids. There are kids with all different kinds of challenges in the class, and Sam loves each and every one of them–he even has a best friend, and the bus driver tells me there’s a girl whose hand he holds every day climbing off the bus. But though he now has nearly a dozen friends to babble about, I know that his first loves in class were his teachers.
Now, for rhetoric’s sake, I’m going to lump them all together as teachers: the actual teacher, the paraeducator, the occupational therapist and the speech language pathologist. Because when you get down to it, they all teach. At a recent parent-teacher conference, the OT showed me a photo she’d snapped of Sam coloring that robot. It might look like scribbles to you, but my boy has managed to put dots into circles and generally color within the lines, identifying each separate shape and using separate colors. And he smiled while he worked–not the cheesy, you’re-pointing-a-camera-at-me smile, but a real, Look-what-I-can-do! sort of smile. Continue reading → The Season of Thanksgiving, Day One: I’m Thankful for Teachers
It’s that time of year, folks. The air is crisp. There’s Halloween candy in the pantry. The leaves continue to fall and, if you live somewhere rainy like I do, to plaster themselves together and cover your deck in wood-rotting, slug-filled piles. Everything you see on the internet is either election related, Christmas advertising, or people griping about either one of those things. Usually, though I believe myself to be at least one-eighth Christmas elf (if you doubt me, take a close look at my ears), I am in the camp that would prefer the Christmas season not to begin until the fourth Friday of November–but not this year. It’s November 4th and already I’ve watched four Christmas specials. Maybe it’s the election stress. Maybe it’s this cold that won’t stop strangling me. Or my increasingly precocious, increasingly needy, increasingly sleep-troubled eleven-month-old. Or my preschooler with ever-evolving special needs diagnoses (more on that some other time). Or something.
Anyhow, it is NOT Christmastime yet, and I do not want to wash up on Christmas Eve thinking, When will this ever end? It is still autumn, my favorite season of them all, and though the pumpkin patches are now closed there’s still plenty of fall fun to be had. More importantly, we have a holiday coming up that, at its core, reminds us to be thankful for what we have. In my case that’s a whole helluva lot. It’s a time to think of the positive, even when the negative rises all around. A feast to fortify us for the coming winter.
That’s what I’ve been looking for in those Christmas specials. Also, the aforementioned Halloween candy I can’t stop picking at. Sweetness. Warmth. Distraction.
So here’s what I’m going to do. Every day until Thanksgiving, I’m going to post something positive. Something I’m thankful for. And it won’t be one of those positive things that’s really an excuse to highlight something negative (e.g. I’m so thankful I have a safe car because there are so many ridiculous drivers on the road.) If you want to loop it up with something negative, that’s your prerogative, but me–I’m going to spend a little time on the bright side. I hope you’ll join me.
We hosted Thanksgiving this year. Four grandparents and an uncle spent the weekend doting on Sam: he loved it. I made the best turkey I’ve ever made (this recipe is going to become traditional in my house) and we all ate and talked and laughed and it was really wonderful. The next day, instead of participating in Black Friday, we all hopped in a nice, big, rental SUV and headed up to Leavenworth: the idyllic little German town that Ian and I have been wanting to visit since we each moved to Washington.
There was snow on the ground. That was pretty cool. All the architecture in town (or, at least, downtown) is very Bavarian–even the Starbucks and the Cold Stone. There are lots of little German restaurants with beer and schnitzel and sausage, but utilitarian that I am (correction: utilitarian that I’ve become since having a child), I chose the first little restaurant I saw. It did have German sausage on the menu, which I ordered. There was no wait, and despite the tiny dining room, they did have a table big enough for us. Sam was very happy there and ate a nice grilled cheese sandwich and a whole lot of sauerkraut off my plate (I’m so proud of my boy’s strange palate). From there we wandered the streets, saw some nutcrackers, bought some taffy. We visited the Christkindlmarkt, which was sort of why we went on that particular day, though it turned out to be little more than a wintertime farmer’s market. There were some carolers, which Sam loved. I’d say it was an okay time. Not the overwhelming success I’d hoped for, but not a lost day, either.
It’s interesting to think about how the trip would have gone if we didn’t have the baby. I doubt we’d have hauled our family two hours there and two hours back again in the first place. If we did, we would have waited for a table in a German restaurant and ordered beer and eaten at a leisurely pace with no screaming at our table. I might have looked up more often to see the sights instead of tracking my toddler as he moved through the crowds, refusing to hold anyone’s hand.
And yet Sam’s reactions were the best part of the trip. He loves to be out and about. He loves to see new people and new things. He had no idea where he was or why it was supposed to be special, but he was happy. Which made the rest of us happy, too.