Yesterday was a very special day indeed! It's been a special week around here, and we ended it well for Max.
When Max was a baby, he was invited to one of these events at the hospital, where children get to shop for their family with gifts donated to the hospital. Through the years, we've gotten invitations, but have always turned them down because Max can't just tell a volunteer what he wants, and doesn't just get along with anyone. And they always have requested parents not join the child, so it can be a surprise.
This year, we got the invitation from Make A Wish for Max to go the Holiday Shopping Store. Again, it noted that only the wish kid could go through the store, but this year, since Max was so into Santa Claus, and the Jolly Old Elf was to be there, I called Make A Wish to ask if Max could have someone he knows go in with him. They were more than accommodating, and said that was perfectly fine. I guess it pays to just ask!
I asked Max's speech therapists if they would want to go with him, since outside of us, they can understand what he is saying better than anyone else. He had his computer with him to talk, but sometimes he gets overwhelmed, and won't use his computer. That's where his therapists can read his eyes, and know his sounds mean certain things, like yeah and uh-uh. They both said they would love to meet us there and take Max shopping for Christmas gifts for his family!
There is a certain area of the highway on the way to Children's, that Max starts crying. Every. Single. Time. He knows when we're on the way to Children's, and we try to wait to tell him he's going until we get to that point. We usually say it's just a short visit with whichever doctor he's going to see. Sometimes it dries his tears, sometimes it makes him cry harder. So, yesterday, when we were able to tell him he was going just for fun, and to see Santa Claus, he just seemed a bit confused. Children's is not a fun place for him, so I don't think he quite believed us.
We met up with his therapists in the lobby and got checked in at the Make A Wish desk. They were screening everyone for illness...which is great since they are all Wish Kids, and none of them needed to get sick! Max wore a mask for just in case anyway. That's our rule for going to the hospital this time of year. And it was crowded! He got to take his mask off once he got into the shopping area.
We got all checked in, and waited our turn...well, Max and his therapists waited their turn. Steve and I were just his ride. He told them who he wanted to get gifts for, pausing for just a bit on his cousin's name. He finally agreed that she would be his last gift. Such a stinker!
His number was called and off they went into the gift shop. And there we sat to wait.
In all the years we've gone to the Children's Hospital, unless he was under anesthesia, or so sick he was in the PICU, Max has never been without one of us, or someone very close to him. I was a little nervous of how he would react to going off with his therapists, who he's most of the time trying to get out of working for at home.
But, of course he did great! He got to meet Santa Claus first off, and got into the area of his talker computer that we had made up for Santa visit. He told Santa, "I've been naughty". . . "I want a musical instrument". That's my boy! So much honesty and still knows what he likes! He's not been too naughty, but there have been a few melt downs this week that I have threatened to tell Santa about, so I guess he beat me to the punch.
(This is right after he told Santa he had been naughty!)
Then they went around and chose gifts for everyone. His therapist said he took the most time choosing for his uncle, and knew pretty quickly what he wanted for his cousin. They got all the gifts wrapped, and then they were back out with a big bag full of gifts!
I've said it so many times before, but really and truly, Max has the best team! His therapists made a special time in their day to come all the way down to Children's for this event so he could go shopping. It was the first time he's ever chosen gifts for anyone. We're all SO excited to see what he chose for us. And we're so grateful that he's got such wonderful, caring therapists that love to see him thrive and do things no one thought he would do.