First Christmas Party
We attended the Christmas party at Erik's school last night. Erik has been a part of this place for quite some time now, but we have never been to one of these parties. I suppose I never felt like spending any of my free time there before. Earlier in the day I asked Erik if he was interested in seeing Santa, and I was amazed by his newfound enthusiasm. His reaction sparked excitement in me that I haven't felt in the past few years. I put on a fresh coat of lipstick and switched out his shirt for something with less food smeared down the front. I realized I was having yet another "normal mom moment" and enjoyed the feeling. It's nice no longer being trapped at home by a noisy world.
When we arrived at the school, the street was clogged with cars. The entrance was decorated with a bright green garland of lights, and people were filtering through the front door with their children. Erik was greeted by the staff, and we made our way to the little gym at the end of the hall.
The long, cramping line to see Santa was made up of people who looked mostly only vaguely familiar. I eventually spotted a couple mothers and their spouses I knew well and chatted with them as we stood in line. The sweltering temperature in the room almost took my breath away at first, and I stripped off my jacket. We stood next to twin girls whose mother introduced herself and reminded us that we were invited to their birthday party this weekend. I racked my brain for items 5-year-old girls might like to play with and tried not to panic about being immersed in yet another social situation. When we made it to the front of the line, Santa extended his arms to welcome Erik. It was a sweet sight to see. Erik didn't hesitate this year, even though he has only seen Santa once. He went quickly to him and was placed on his lap. I snapped a couple of photos and then was approached by another mother who introduced herself and shook my hand firmly. She explained that her daughter rode the school bus with Erik last year and that Erik was her own personal favorite. She admitted she had really fallen in love with him. She remembered out loud when Erik first arrived at the school. How he could barely walk and never said a word. How she was amazed by his progress over time. I felt unexpected emotion wash over me as memories of the first two dark years of Erik's life flooded my brain. I remembered the struggles we had in the very room we stood in. I smiled and successfully fought off tears, realizing I have packed many of those memories away now and have moved on but that they would always remain inside of me. I shook off the feeling and told her that I loved her daughter, a little girl with beautiful blond hair, a sweet smile, profound compassion for my anxious son, and an extra chromosome. She smiled back at me and disappeared back into the crowd. I am amazed at how easily people approach me these days and show our family such kindness. It was difficult but eye opening to have a view into our little world from the outside. It is nice to know that we are not invisible after all. I needed that.
On our way out, Erik did the cupcake walk with Brian and emerged with a goatee made of slimy chocolate frosting. His teacher greeted me and reported that this week he followed her instructions for the first time. She said it was no longer necesssary to lead my passive son through each and every thing and that he had improved a great deal. She described how he used to be, too.
Brian purchased a snack-sized bag of cookies at the bake sale table, and I bought a star for the Christmas tree in the hall. I put Erik's name on the tag and hung it from a branch. I try to give back a little every year. The funds for the school are evaporating, but I have hope that things will change.
They sure have for us.