It’s only November. TWO months into the school year. And already Ace needed new shoes. He goes to a school with a strict uniform policy so there was no way around getting him new shoes since the ones that were new in September (TWO months ago) no longer had soles and he can’t go to school in sneakers.
The first place we went to is still trying to recover from Super Storm Sandy and was closed. I had no idea that entire strip mall had suffered so much damage. All but 1 store was closed and under going massive renovations.
We ended up going to the mall where we did find him some shoes for school. Me and my first born son strolled around checking out all the cool Christmassy things and eating cinnamon/sugar pretzels from Auntie Annies and sipping on a too-big cup of lemonade. It was really nice having that time with him. We held hands while we walked and we talked about all kinds of things that are important to 6 year old boys.
On our way out, he spotted Santa and asked if he could go take pictures and tell Santa what he wanted.
I told him we’d come back the next day and try to get pictures with him and Jay together.
Three years ago I tried to get a picture with my 2 sons and Santa but it was a miserable failure. Yelling and screaming and all that fun stuff.
The following year, we kept our heads straight whenever we passed old St Nick in the mall. No way was I going through that again.
Last year, I let Ace go up to Santa and say hi and shake hands but we didn’t try for pictures. Ace was satisfied with that and so was I. After all, I knew it wouldn’t work for Jay and what would I do with cute pictures of Ace and Santa but none of Jay? I can’t send that to anybody.
But that was last year.
This year Ace REALLY wanted a picture with Santa.
The following day – the day after getting the new shoes that had better last until June – Jay, Ace and I went to the mall. CC wanted no part of our little outing. He already knew there would be a scene and that we would leave with me feeling sorry for myself and asking the same question I ask all the time. Why do these everyday things have to be so hard? He told me not to do it. He told me to just take Ace and have fun but I couldn’t. I had to at least give Jay a chance. If it didn’t look like it would work I would bail early. I wouldn’t push him. If he didn’t want to be there, I would let Ace have his pictures and we would come home – but we would have tried.
In the car on the way, I told Ace that we were going to see if we could get a picture of Santa with both him and Jay. I asked him not to yell at Jay or to yank on him. I promised him that if Jay didn’t want to take the picture, I would still let him get his chance by himself.
Once at the mall, me and my 2 handsome boys walked in. Hand in hand. You know … like we do that all the time. Just casually and quietly walk around without drawing attention to ourselves.
We didn’t rush anything. We stopped so Jay could look at the Christmas posters and decorations.
We stopped so Jay could spell and then try to sound out all the names of the stores. <– Yeh, my kid does that now.
Then we rounded the corner and there was Santa.
The line wasn’t too long. Just 3 people ahead of us. We joined the line and just waited. Yup. Jay played with the velvet rope and we WAITED QUIETLY.
When we got to the front, I said to Santas helper “This one (pointing to Jay) has autism so I don’t know if he will cooperate. I would like to try though. Please don’t do a lot of yelling and waving to get him to look at the camera. Just be calm and let me see if I can get him to look. If it doesn’t work then don’t worry about it. I’ll still purchase a picture with this one (pointing to Ace) by himself. OK?”
She said all the right things – went and spoke to Santa – and then it was our turn.
Ace ran right up to Santa and jumped onto his lap. Jay and I walked over and Santa called him to come sit next to him. Jay climbed up onto the over sized chair and sat on the arm. Ace launched into his speech about wanting Avengers Lego and Jay wanting a Leap Pad 2. Jay pulled on Santa beard and gave him hi-fives. He lifted his hat off his head and touched his cheek. Santa asked Jay to come sit next to him, which he did. They took one picture with Ace on Santas lap and Jay crouched down on the chair next to Santa. Then Santa asked me to help him get Jay onto his other leg. I moved slowly and carefully – all the while monitoring Jay’s mood and reactions. I asked Jay to sit on Santas lap, which he did. Then I said “Say cheese.”
They took another picture – this time with both kids sitting on Santas lap and smiling for the camera.
As we were leaving Jay waved his awkward wave and said “Bye Santa.”
This is definitely a story for our record books.
In the car on the way home Ace said to me “Mom, wasn’t that a good idea that I had? We took pictures and I told Santa that Jay wants a Leap Pad 2. Now you can take back the one you bought cause Santa will bring it. Now you can use that money for something else.”
It was a brilliant idea my love.