I took Max and Ben out to dinner the other night. Max got baked ziti, his current favorite pasta fix. (He’s over both spaghetti and stuffed shells.) I tucked some napkins into his shirt collar before he ate.
He downed the entire bowlful while I was busy trying to get Ben to eat, asking for help only with spearing the last bits. He barely got any on the napkins.
As I helped him clean up, my mind flashed back to a Vermont restaurant we’d eaten in during a trip when Max was five or six. Dave had been spoon-feeding him. I glanced over to a nearby table, where a large extended family was eating, and noticed a teen with disabilities. He was eating his meal contentedly, and I remember wondering whether someday, Max would also be able to eat independently. It was hard to imagine.
I kept sneaking glances at that boy throughout our dinner, as if he could help me see Max’s future.
These days, I do the same when I notice adults with intellectual disability on a job. Could that be Max handing out mail? Could that be Max greeting people at a store? Could that be Max helping to prepare food? Could he could he could he?
I wonder. I worry. Only now, I also have the wisdom to know that somehow things will work out, same as they always have. Even as the anxiety swirls around my head, my heart says, “He will be OK.” Max is the boy I once worried he’d never be—a boy who can walk, talk, ride a bike, run, play softball, communicate, read, write and who keeps right on learning. He is full of abilities. Years ago, we couldn’t take him to new places because he’d have sensory meltdowns. Now, we can’t keep up with his demands to visit new places. He is the boy sitting in the restaurant happily eating on his own.
One day, I hope to be right here sharing about Max’s great new job…and thinking back to the time when I used to wonder.
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