I found myself bellowing up the stairs at 8:30AM on a Sunday, something that this Heretic does not do on a regular Sunday -basis, for everyone to get up and at 'em: it was time to visit Santa.
For Olivia this would be the first time. Sure, we had peered around the corner at various Mall Santa's over the years, but despite my nudging, neither child was all that interested in standing in a line to sit on a strangers lap. And to be honest, I didn't have the greatest memories of that experience as a child - either I was scared and crying, or I felt uncomfortable and wished it to be over soon (Oh God, sounds like I am describing my first sexual encounter!). I never pushed THAT hard.
Isaac had been once before, under the power of a determined grandmother, when he was an infant. I don't even know where that photo is - good mothering, huh?
So we threw on clean, non-clashing clothes and hustled down to the Lloyd Center Mall. It had been going on for an hour already (I recommend going at the start of it - apparently 8AM was fairly empty, but we had a 30 minute wait).
The mall was empty save for the families, music was off, lights were low, and it really was a calmer experience for the kids. For the parents, not so much. There was a lot of checking out other families, talking about our experiences (where do you go for speech was a common question asked), soothing, distracting, and primping of children. And ages were across the board - from toddlers to teenagers. I am glad we went. But we will only go next year if the kids ask to.
Gonna sound bad now. Oh, I am not a bad person, I swear. But it was a bit scary for me. I looked at the older kids and wondered if that was going to be my future. One teenage boy had such a hard time that when it was his turn with Santa, he just dropped to the ground and had a tantrum. He was so large, trying to physically moved him would likely have hurt either him or someone else, so he was allowed to calm down on his own, a sight that agitated many others in line. But then, that was the beauty of it all. We got it. Each one of us. We knew that he just needed to find his calm space again, and all would be right with the world.
But still, is that going to be Isaac and I in 5 years? Are we going to hit a wall in our progress and not be able to hurdle it? I look at him-here he is doing his homework, fractions for crying out loud, he is not severe, he talks and shares and cares. But his anxiety can be a deal breaker, and will the hormone surge of adolescents see us out in public managing through a shut-down?
I don't think so. I hope not, anyway. Joining our little community this Sunday, nay, our Band of Brothers, reminded me that there are no guarantees.
And it freaked me out ever so slightly.
Will see about next year.