First let me apologize for any typos. I have a broken index finger and can't type (hence the break in blogging). I broke it doing Crossfit, which sounds super cool unless you know the details which reiterate that I am, in fact, not cool. At all.
ANYHOW, this summer I am getting to know this amazing person better that lives in my house-Skip.
Yes, he is my son so I've known him awhile, but he is definitely his own person these days. In fact, the last year he was kinda becoming a bit of a jerk- the too cool for school crap, eye rolls- typical stuff for a 3rd grader. I was a little worried because he had always been this sunny, enthusiastic kid. Quite honestly, I was concerned. I didn't want my son to turn into one of "those" kids.
Apparently, my worry was for no reason at all.
About 2 weeks ago, we dropped him off for his jiu jitsu class. We were going to find a parking spot and I watched to make sure he got in okay (it's at our gym which is packed and has a lot of people going in and out). An older woman (not old lady by any means) came in behind him and my son stepped aside, opened the door for her and let her go in first. Wow. And she wasn't some 20 year old hottie either. I was very impressed.
Then this past weekend we went to Disneyland. I explained to him that Jerky Skip needed to stay at home. We were going to have fun if it killed us. Or more specifically if he dished out attitude, I was not above humiliating him in public (if you know me, you know my love of big, silly hats and inappropriate displays of affection) or leaving the park and coming home. Because I have been known to do both. I also spent a summer in the college program working at Disney World and I was well aware of what happens to families between the hours of 1 pm - 4pm in the heat in the middle of a packed amusement park, forcing as much fun as possible into a short period of time- fun that costs more than my first car. It isn't pretty. It was NOT going to be us.
Jerky Skip was no where to be seen.
I think it had to do with my husband buying a Goofy hat. And my son bought one. And Disneyland is a really fun place.
He didn't even fight with his sister. Because of that, Drama Girl also seemed to vanish.
Everyone decided if we were in the Happiest Place on Earth that we were going to act like it. And it worked- despite the heat, the lines, the crowds-- we had a blast.
But one of my favorite parts of the trip, and what I really think made the difference, was watching my son interact with my friend Deanne's daughter. She is an old friend and I hadn't seen her in years. Our families had never met. She has three children whose ages are the same as my kids (the youngest two are a few months older and a few months younger than my daughter). Her oldest is the same age as my son and she also happens to have Down syndrome.
I wasn't sure how my kids would react to her oldest daughter so I asked Deanne how to prep them or answer questions. I didn't want them to be rude or uncomfortable. Deanne was terrific and sent me some great books so we could at least discuss it beforehand. My daughter was a little oblivious to it after meeting her kids. Zoey was more concerned that her oldest was shorter than her younger sister (who is very tall) so she couldn't possibly be older. She is 6. Things need to make sense. She is freaked out that I am older than my husband because "that's just wrong, Mommy. Daddies should be older."
My son however, showed a level of maturity on this trip that blew me away. The younger three glommed together like a pack which left him with the grown ups for a large part of the time. Suddenly, before my eyes, he wasn't a little kid any longer. He was so mature. He made jokes with us. My broken finger had him asking (because I needed to keep it elevated)- "Do you have a question, Mom?" His insights into various people we saw were funny and dead on.
He also ended up spending more time with my friend's oldest daughter, the one with Downs. He exhibited a kindness and thoughtfulness towards her that I think far surpassed his years. He never shied away. He gladly sat next to her. He was compassionate and never treated her as "less than." I could tell from his actions that he genuinely liked her and respected her- the joy she showed when she saw the characters or her enthusiasm for just being at Disneyland. It made him act a little nicer, be a little more aware of how cool everything was and because of her, he had a better time and was a better person. Something clicked for him.
I think they will be friends for life.
And I got a glimpse into the man that my son will be.
And I could not be happier.