We are continuing to visit him twice a week at the residential facility, which involves a two hour drive each way. Per the rules of the facility we have worked up to off-campus visits, each week the visit is allowed to be longer and we can take him off campus with just our family. It's exciting and freeing but it still doesn't feel like our life. We aren't given many options of things to do based on the location of this facility and the colder weather, so it's either go out to eat at a chain restaurant or walk around Target and play videos games. I want him to experience life in our home; walking the dogs, going to the pool, setting the table for dinner. I want him to experience the little moments that make us a family, and I know he wants to experience that too.
This past weekend during our visit we decided that we would run errands because both L and Z needed new shoes and he did as well. So there we are, my wife and I, in the DSW shoe store trying to find shoes for three boys for the first time ever. It felt natural and chaotic at the same time. I found myself noticing other people in the store and how they looked at our family, seeing the confusion on their faces as they tried to figure out how two women and three children (who don't look like each other) "go together" in this very rural part of the state.
But seeing the excitement on his face when he found a pair that fit was priceless and instantly made me forget all the eyes that were watching us. "Look at MY NEW shoes!" He kept saying with a strong emphasis on MY as though this might have been the first time that he ever got new shoes. The thought crossed my mind but then I swept is aside, that couldn't be true. At some point in time someone had to have bought him new shoes, right? We pile back in the minivan and head to Walmart because the zipper on his pants are broken, he's our kid so we are doing what we would normally do for our kids-buy them what they need.
Having no idea what size he wears, I just guess and pull some various sizes for him to try on and fill my arms with pants that I would normally buy for L and Z. Well he has his eyes set on a pair of jeans, L and Z never wear jeans. And I mean never! So I empty my arms and begin looking through the racks of jeans and we all make our way to the dressing room. He is carrying a pair of jeans in his arms, close to his chest and mumbling something about how excited he is about them. He tries on only that one pair of jeans, opens the dressing room door for us to see him in them with a huge smile on his face, "They fit!". Wife and I check to make sure the jeans do in fact fit around his waist, length, are comfortable when he sits down etc. His entire face is beaming, "And they come with a belt! I've never had a belt before!" I look at him, at his huge smile and twinkling brown eyes and my heart breaks for him. He's excited about a belt! A belt, people! I give him a huge hug and tell him that those are clearly the pants for him. His smile turns to a frown and he says, "But we aren't allowed to have belts at the cottage." My wife, in perfect timing says, "We will just keep the belt at our house till you get there, okay?" The smile is back and he's bouncing out the door excited about his new shoes, jeans and the belt that he's never had before. And as I watch my three boys exit the store together I feel a lightness in my heart, this was the reminder that I needed this holiday season.
It's the little things that matter most; it's being a family, being together and being able to wear a belt!