December 14, 2010
Llama Llama Misses Mama. Llama Llama Mad at Mama.
Mama Llama NOT in Her Pajamas.
All but the last title are some of Zachary’s favorite reads. The latter suggestion came from my son at his school’s “pajama book fair” last evening, as he gleefully ran to the overstocked shelves and pointed out the covers of his faves, then turned and admonished me for not donning sleepwear for the event as he had. I simply smiled and told him that only the kids were supposed to wear their pajamas, and reminded him he only had five minutes left to pick out the one book mommy would purchase for him (which inevitably would expand to at least two purchases). He regarded me with a slight air of disdain for both my time limitations and my choice of apparel, then ignored all the beautifully illustrated, award-winning literature, and zoomed over to the table sporting the Dora the Explorer coloring books, of which he already possesses at least fifty.
At least a fashion crisis was averted. Trust me, nobody sees me in my sexy winter long-johns but Jeff. It’s my gift to the world.
The fact that we’re even here with Zach happily wearing his favorite Cars pjs is nothing short of miraculous. It was only a six months ago that my youngest’s lovely teacher suggested a “pajama Thursday” as a possible event, and at the time all members of the McCafferty crew had eagerly participated in preparing Zach for that special day in his new school. We’d talked thoroughly through the impending deviation in fashion, and repeatedly reassured Zach that wearing nightwear in the daytime was permissible.
We’d even had a mini-fashion show the night prior in which I was his assistant, his father and brother his audience, where collectively we decided which set of footies would grace his classroom the following day. He had seemed exhilarated at the prospect, even went to his crib asking to hold his outfit throughout the night. Zach normally does not like to stray from routine (a slight understatement), but I had been pleasantly surprised by his receptiveness to this suggestion, and fully anticipated I’d encounter an animated and excited child the next morning.
When confronted with the actual prospect of wearing his “chosen ones” to school I was met with a tantrum of such gigantic, unprecedented proportion that Justin actually abandoned his movie to come upstairs and check out the show (also an unprecedented event). The caterwauling even woke up my husband, the man who has slept through multiple alarms, fallen tree limbs on our roof, and even the siren song of dozens of hallway fire alarms signaling impending doom in our Virginia apartment. Not only was Zach so NOT slipping on this ridiculous choice of clothing, he was apparently furious I’d even suggested it.
To this day, I’m not quite sure he’s forgiven me.
But tonight he’s all smiles as he positively reeks of cuteness in his body-length red, and as we sail happily through our evening I cannot help but make comparisons as to where we were just half a year ago. This spring for example, I (and everyone in the room) would have been privy to an ear-splitting meltdown if we had attempted to depart the premises without every Dora book in sight, because it wouldn’t have felt “right” to Zach to exit without the entire set.
I wouldn’t have had the satisfaction of watching my three-year-old listen respectfully (most of the time) to his new fave The Polar Express, choosing to ignore the adorable yellow-haired girl clamoring repeatedly for his attention (and the glances of every other boy there, it’s a blond thing and obviously beyond our control from birth).
Certainly, we would never have participated in the subsequent art project which included both sticky glue and paint in the rendering of the good train himself, would instead have skipped that portion of the evening’s festivities and headed for home. That part would have been particularly sad, as it’s likely my son would have been upset at our departure despite his personal rejection of those glue sticks, a response which would have obliterated my chances for a cupcake purchase from our high school’s cheerleading squad as we left.
Hey, rewards are not just for kids.
Eventually the evening concludes, and as we bundle up to brave the arctic winds (okay, it’s Jersey, it’s a SLIGHT exaggeration) I look down at my small son and mark this moment and the ones that preceded it tonight. I give thanks to all the professionals who helped bring him to this place, the teachers, therapists, relatives, and friends who have paved the way to his entrance back to our world, helped him rediscover it with an ever-increasing ease.
But I also silently thank him, for the circumstances that have permitted his brain’s tender neural connections to allow him the option to enjoy this evening, not just the ability to endure it. In the end, despite all the therapy, the love, and the many hours spent in simple interactions, so much of our children’s progress rests in their own hands.
And as we step into the parking lot I encircle one of his cold ones within the strength of my warmth, and promise, in my own way, never to let go.