Something happened yesterday that hasn’t happened in a very long time.
We had an almost perfect day.
It was a day when there was much potential for things to go badly. With the exception of swimming lessons for the older boys in the morning, I had nothing planned for the day. And in many many cases that is a recipe for meltdowns, arguments and disaster in our house.
But it didn’t happen.
We started to have some trouble brewing just about lunch time. The boys were hungry and wound up from swim lessons, and the doughnut snack on the way home probably didn’t help. We had all just come in from being outside in the backyard so I could put Lewis down for his nap. The potential for mischief was running high. But right then, a plan popped into my head.
“Howie, you sit nicely while Daddy gets Lewis to sleep and we’ll switch your car seat for Gerry’s old booster seat.” He had been asking for months if he could finally have a booster seat. I told him that he needed to be in underwear full time before that was possible. Really, it was a way to buy time so he could finally meet the weight requirements for the booster. Plus, I liked that he was completely strapped in, unable to escape his seat by himself. But since diapers were now a thing of the past (yea!) and he had cracked that magic weight number, I figured it was time follow through and make the switch.
“Really? I can really have Gerry’s old black and gray booster seat that is in the garage?” Nothing is cooler to Howie than his older brother’s stuff, and he was making sure we were talking about the same seat.
Gerry, Howie and I went out to the car to get the old seat while Tim put Lewis down for his nap. Howie helped me carry the old one into the garage, and put the booster into the same spot in the car. Gerry told him to try it out, and we buckled him in with the real seat belt. Howie started making all sorts of faces in the mirror in front of his seat in the car. We’ve had that mirror there since he was an infant and just never bothered to move it.
“What are you doing? Are you uncomfortable?”, I asked.
“Nope,” came the answer. “I’m just seeing how much older I look in my new seat.”
We took a drive around the neighborhood to test it out. Throughout the whole ride he was quiet, staring at himself in the mirror. When we pulled back into the driveway he proclaimed “I am SO OLD now!”. He wasn’t lying.
Buoyed by that success, I decided to take it one step further and pulled out Gerry’s old bike with training wheels from the back of the garage. All summer Howie’s been afraid to try it, preferring instead to stick with his Little Tykes bike that is lower to the ground. I convinced him this time that since he was big enough now for the booster seat, he was big enough for the real big boy bike.
“Ok, I’ll try it, ” he said, “But only if you hold on.”
And it didn’t matter. Because within a minute he was pedaling himself around the driveway as if he’d been riding that bike all summer long.
“I’m SO BIG NOW!”, Howie exclaimed. “I am going to ride my bike all day and all night!”
I’ll admit, I got a little teary. I spend so much time focusing and obsessing about what he can’t do, and how hard things are and will be for him in the future. It was about time I stopped to celebrate what he can do now and what he might be able to accomplish someday.
While he didn’t ride all day and all night, he did ride in a circle in the driveway for two hours straight. He got good enough to avoid Lewis running after him, and could get himself over the cracks in the driveway. We took a break for dinner (out to Pizzeria Uno’s where everyone ate their dinners without complaints – another miracle of the day!) and played outside until the mosquitoes started to bite. There was no whining or tantrums about showering or teeth brushing, and all three boys ended the night together in my bed laughing hysterically watching an episode of “Wow Wow Wubbzy”.
The day was not without its bumps in the road. Gerry and Howie argued over which one of them would get to be the police officer on their bike and which one was the bad guy. They cut each other in line climbing up on the swing set to get to the slide first. But these were, dare I say, “typical” sibling interactions. There were no complaints from Gerry that Howie was making his “annoying noises”. Howie wasn’t running laps in the house trying to get his energy out or crashing into his brothers. It was just a regular beautiful day.
I’d like to chalk it up to the fact that I’m finally starting to understand Howie’s needs more and anticipate them, and the strategies and therapies that we’ve worked on are starting to kick in. More likely it’s the fact that this was the first Saturday in weeks that it wasn’t 90% humidity and 95 degrees outside. And I’m guessing that the large Dunkin’ Donuts iced latte I had on the way home from swim lessons helped as well.
Whatever it was that made the stars align as they did, I’ll take it. These have been rare days this summer and they need to be celebrated. It was an amazing way to end what had been a very difficult month of July.
Time to go. We’re riding bikes again today, and I don’t want to waste a single beautiful minute.
“It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away” – Beautiful Day by U2