Mia always surprises me. She continually blows me away. But once in awhile she gives me such a shock I don’t even know to properly categorize it in words. Surprised, astonished, stunned don’t do it. I guess I could say she “drops a bombshell on me.” But that wouldn’t do it justice either.
I love these moments and I am lucky enough to experience them on a pretty regular basis. This weekend has been full of them. Today for example, Mia came into the kitchen looking for a snack. I asked her if she was interested in eating three Milano cookies – she undoubtedly said “yes!” There is nothing unusual about that and although at one point in time just the word “yes” could throw me into a state of shock, it no longer does. Here is what surprised me: as she was quickly running out of the room (she never walks anywhere) she yelled over her shoulder, “Thanks Mom!” I was rendered speechless. Shocked. I spun around so quickly I nearly fell. And Roger was left to pick my jaw up off the floor. We locked eyes, Roger and I. Joy.
Thankfully Roger was standing next to me in the kitchen – I always prefer to have an audience to witness these events. Someone who can tell me that I have not gone insane, that I’m not hearing things, or imagining it all up. Plus, it’s nice to share her “accomplishments” with someone. But a moment like that the average person cannot understand. Teachers, family members, friends – they all are happy. Excited. Pleased. But to Roger and I, it is an indescribable feeling. To borrow a phrase from my sister, in those moments, we feel like she climbed Mt. Everest.
On Friday evening Roger and I experienced one of the longest lasting “surprise moments” to date. We went to Middletown’s “Christmas on the Green.” There was hot cider, cookies, hot cocoa, hay-rides and sleigh rides, and Santa Claus. They lit the HUGE Middletown Christmas tree a blaze in colorful “Holiday” Lights. The high school students sang Christmas carol’s on a stage while men walked through the crowds selling blow-up Santa’s, snowmen and light sticks. There was a marching band to escort Santa in. It was a regular festival. A carnival of lights, sounds, and tastes. Somewhere Mia would normally run as far, and as fast, away from as she possibly could. But curiously enough, she thrived in this particular situation.
And after her bad experiences on Thanksgiving I had no expectations of being there for a long period of time. But, as always we were willing to give it a try. Roger and I try our best to treat and give Mia as “typical” a growing up experience as we can. We take her to places – and while there we let her decide if she wants to stay or not. This time, to my surprise, she stayed.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit to you that I thought we would be running back to our car the minute we arrived at the crowded green full of people. We had parked so far away and as we made our way down to the green I began to see just how many people were actually going to be there. The streets were literally alive.
We held back for a bit. Mia was trying to take it all in. We played up on a hill next to a fountain we frequent with her in the warmer months. Thankfully it was virtually deserted. She watched the energized mass of people walk back and forth. Every once and awhile we would hear an excited child yell “Hi, Mia.” It seems as if everyone knows her in this town.
When she finally decided to move west down the street towards the town green I was a bit apprehensive. I did want her to see Santa but at the same time I felt that the vast amount of people would scare her away before that happened. I thought maybe we were better off on our perch on the hill – watching the fun and the parade from afar. As usual, Mia had plans of her own. She walked us right over to the green. Right over to the middle of it all. Where she found one of those men selling stuff and quickly chose a light up stick – instantly swinging it in all directions. Just like every other child there.
How in this hodgepodge of sounds Mia heard the students singing Christmas carols I do not know, but she did. She literally dragged us to the stage, as close as we could get, to see them and listen. We stood there listening to the Christmas music and singing along, all three of us, until the marching band came down the road. A road that fate had placed us right next to – Mia was able to see all parts of the festivities from our little corner nook in the far end of the crowd. We moved to the street and watched the parade shuffle by; Mia had no problem with the loud noise of the instruments. And then there he was. Red Jacket, beard and all. Here comes Santa. He walked right past us, he even said hi to Mia. As he made his way to the stage Mia pulled Roger and I back to our spot on the grass.
We were watching the Mayor give a short speech when Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat walked right by us. He was right in front of us and his “body guard” even had to ask us to move a bit. The Cat reached down and touched Mia on the shoulder. She looked up in awe. She didn’t flap. She didn’t stim. She didn’t even move or make a noise. She just looked up at that Cat in amazement – as I looked at her the same way. When he finally made his way past us and was on the stage she smiled one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. I wish I had had my camera ready to take a photo of her face. Happiness.
Right as the Mayor was announcing that it was time to light the tree Mia started to tug us out of the crowd. I was sure she was ready to leave.Then she did something curious, she stopped directly in front of the giant Christmas tree. I realized in that moment that she had been listening to what the Mayor was saying. She had heard through all the noise and she had understood. And she wanted a front row spot from which to witness the action. We counted down from ten (twice – technical difficulties, I guess) and then the tree lit up the whole area in bright white lights. Mia stood underneath the gigantic tree, looking up at all the lights. It really was beautiful.
After exploring the tree for a few moments we left. As we slowly made our way back to the car Roger and I told Mia how amazing she was. Numerous times. We weren’t lying. We weren’t exaggerating. She is amazing.
When we got home Mia fell asleep pretty much immediately; leaving Roger and I to our thoughts. What a glorious day for Mia. What a spectacular day for us. We must have repeated how great it was a thousand times – each time we said it we meant it more than the previous. Even as I write this now I get the chills thinking about Mia navigating her way through the crowd with ease; one hand gripping mine for comfort and support while the other gripped Roger’s for assurance and safety. As I write this now it gives me hope.
Oh, surprises, lovely little surprises. My favorite gifts. They are one of the very best presents Mia could ever give me. These tiny little occurrences. These small little moments that give me the most joy in life. That give me the most happiness. That give me the most immense hope for Mia’s future.