Progress is measured in small steps. I’ve said that over and over again this past year, mainly to console myself when the steps are so small, and the journey back to where he was seems so long. But every now and again, he suddenly takes a leap forward, and it’s such a shock.
Every year, for the past six years, Marc has run the Passover seder for St. Michael’s Church on the Heights. Every year, since Julianna was a baby. Because we started when the kids were so young, and it’s obviously done only once a year, it’s easy to look back and remember how little they were, and marvel at how much they’ve grown and changed over the past year. There was the year Julianna dumped her bowl of soup all over her dress, and had to spend the seder in my sweater and a diaper. The year Sam got a bloody nose, and bled all over my shirt. The year that they had the playroom for the kids (we were in a different facility then for some reason), and I spent most of the Seder in the playroom reading while the kids played with blocks.
Last year Sam didn’t go. It was too soon after the accident. He was still in a lot of pain, and most of last year is a blur. I don’t even remember it, the actual event.
I knew there was no way he’d go this year. First of all, when we go, we sit at a head table, in front of everyone. All eyes are on Marc, and for a kid with social anxiety, the idea of literally being on display, with rows of tables gazing up at him the whole time… and then you factor in the food issues. He’s gotten a LOT better, but food is still a huge problem for Sam, and his diet is so restricted, there’s no way he’d eat anything, and then not eating would make him more anxious, which would only be intensified by the fact that everyone would KNOW that he wasn’t eating and he’d be even more self-conscious.
I lined up a sitter ahead of time, and she cancelled at the last minute. I was that certain he’d never go. I wasn’t even going to suggest it – until it came down to he could go with us or sit at home by himself. Marc asked if he’d go – and he said yes. I got clothes out for him, knowing he’d probably back out. I packed his kindle for him, made sure we had an audio book and headphones. Told him that I’d feed him before we went, and get him food on the way home if he needed it. I set up a spot where he could go sit, with all the coats piled up and his kindle and audiobook waiting for him, just behind me.
He went. He sat at the table next to me, and colored with the crayons, and played with the finger puppets. He ate matzoh, and tried the soup (didn’t eat it, but tried it!). He tried the rest of the food too (didn’t eat it, but the fact that he was willing to try it is huge). Then when he started to get antsy, he pulled on the headphones and sat for another half hour or so, until the dinner was over and I could politely excuse myself with he and Julie.
Progress is measured in small steps. And God bless the many, many small steps he’s taken over the past year. But every now and again – one giant leap feels so good.