The day he chose his own birthday present

imageI had waited for this day for many years.

He has yet to tell me what he would like for Christmas or a birthday. He has yet to speak, period. He isn’t able to look through a toy catalogue and mark the things he likes. He has no concept of adverts and no interest in toy shops other than the automatic doors or the lift.

Birthdays and Christmas are therefore hard. We basically guess what he might like based on observation and knowledge of his sensory preferences. Sometimes we get it right. More often than not we completely waste our money on things he never goes near.

If we find it hard how much harder do relatives and friends find buying for a child who never plays with toys?

So at his birthday party this year lots of people opted to give him money. And I totally understood why.

But that left me with an even bigger problem: now we HAVE to do something and get something for him.

I was stuck.

So in desperation I decided to venture into a shop with him. That meant pushing him beyond his comfort zone of the automatic doors at the entrance. It meant picking a time when the shop would be most quiet, not only in terms of people but also in terms of tannoy announcements, music, and noisy technology. It meant risking a huge public meltdown.

I tried to prepare him. It’s not like I can tell him he has birthday money and he can come choose a toy. He has no concept of what a birthday is let alone what money is. I am not entirely sure he even realises what a shop is? So I kept it simple and told him he was coming somewhere special with mummy to get something he would really like.

He loves his mummy does that boy.

So I searched for his socks and shoes and lifted him into the car. At seven this gets harder by the day. I took him to a shop we have been to many times before. The whole journey I kept repeating that today we were going into the shop and he could chose himself something nice. As I glanced at him flapping in the mirror I thought for a moment he may actually have understood me.

I think I was right.

He took my hand. He walked right through those beloved doors and he smiled and laughed and flapped like he had just won a coveted prize.

Then he stopped right where he was. He picked something off the shelf and he took my hand and dragged me to the checkout.

I was so utterly in love with him. I was bursting with pride! I wanted to shout about this magical achievement to the ends of the world.

My son has just chosen his own birthday present!

I had no need to worry about the cost. Or wether he needed batteries. Or even if I needed scissors or a screwdriver to get through the packaging. I never even needed to purchase a carrier bag!

He held his prized possession all the way home in the car, turning it, licking it, and smiling at it.

He knew he had chosen well. And so did I.

I actually wonder why I never thought of this before…

After all surely every seven year old wants a tin of baked beans for their birthday present!

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Pre-loved and still loved

It’s the week of my twins 5th birthday.

For many years I only dreamt about ocassions like this. I would see parents standing at the cake aisle in the supermarkets struggling to choose which cake to buy, or wandering around toy stores aimlessly wondering what their children would like this year. And I envied them. My heart longed to hold a child, love a child and raise a child. I prayed for my children before they were born. They were very much pre-loved. They were a dream, a hope, an answer to prayer. I even knitted for them before I even conceived.

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And now 8 years after these booties were knitted I am celebrating the miracle of my children turning 5.

And this week has been a week of realising how pre-loved and still loved my children really are. These booties are significant in that they represented my faith that one day my dream would come true. I had just been told that it was impossible for me to have children. But nothing is impossible in life. And I need reminded of that sometimes. Because both my children have autism. Isaac is reaching 5 years old and still isn’t speaking. Neither of them can jump or stand on one leg, or ride a trike, Isaac still can’t do shape sorters for toddlers, or hold a pencil, neither of them can dress themselves and both of them are still in nappies. But looking at these tiny booties reminds me how blessed I am and that there is so much amazing things in store for these two miracles. They were pre-loved and they are still loved and together we have come so far in the last 5 years.

This last week Naomi had her first overnight stay at her gran’s house. It brought back amazing memories for me of the times I spent with my grandparents as a child and how this impacted my life.

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And it reminded me that it really is people who matter more than things. My children will never know either of their grandfathers as both passed away prior to them being born. And thier other gran is in a nursing home over 400 miles away. Family is precious. And I know gran benefitted from time with a soon to be 5 year old as much as Naomi and mum and dad benefitted. Gran taught Naomi the simple pleasures of cooking together, walking a dog, and reading stories together and Naomi taught gran the names of every train in Chuggington and the importance of putting the right coloured lid on the right pen! And because these things are important to them both the love was strengthenend between them.

It’s things like this that make you realise life is bigger than you think. One generation pouring love into the next. One person making a mark on someone else. Things that money can’t buy. And if I needed reminded of this, yesterday was Godly timing. The children’s other gran moved into a nursing home last year and her old apartment has now been sold. As my sister in law died last year and I never got to meet my brother in law or other sister in law who both died previous to me meeting my husband, the remaining family treasures were delived to us this week. A treasury of so many pre-loved things. Now getting loved again by a new family:

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Money can’t buy history like this. And although Isaac understands so little of any of this it was lovely to talk to Naomi about relatives she will never meet and how her life is bigger than she realises. To help her understand that people long ago prayed for her and loved her even before they ever knew her. I was able to read to her a speech her grandfather made at my wedding and hear how he blessed us and our children and how that is her and her brother. And the delight of seeing and playing with these old dolls was something so special. She can not understand the value of these things but they do make her feel very special. And Isaac adored the detail of this old ship:

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Pre-loved and now still loved.

For once this week life hasn’t been about milestones not reached, or hospital appointments, or therapies or sleepless nights, jumpers getting eaten or trying tomato ketchup for the first time. And I am no longer worried what I can buy for two very different children at opposite ends of the autistic spectrum for thier birthday.

Because they have something money can’t buy. And so do you.

Did you know you were loved even before you were born? And you are still loved! Your life is worthy and part of something bigger than you. It makes no difference that my children have disabilities this week. We are celebrating together the wonderful fact they are here and they are special. Pre-loved and very much still loved. And always will be loved.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” Jer 1:5

I wonder if the modern toys will last as long as these old dolls have?