We are at the cabin with the boys for Spring Break. Despite having two mildly sick kids of our own, plus a poor sick little cousin along, we are having the best cabin vacation our family has seen in years. The reason for this happy trip hinges solely on our Jacky. Something magical seems to have clicked in his brain and for the first time in his eight years of coming to the cabin, Jack is happy here.
Pause for happy dancing and gleeful exclamations.
I guess I’m glimpsing what other people must feel when they travel, which is to say “good times with the family.” This week, the notion of travel being a miserable chore endured for the sake of normalcy for one’s children has been replaced with a sense of invigorating fun at getting out of our daily structured routines and pleasantly enjoying each other’s company in one of the most beautiful natural settings on the earth (in my opinion).
Our special boy has turned some kind of developmental corner and seems to have matured and progressed to a point where he is now able to relax and enjoy himself. Instead of moaning and crying, pacing and stimming at all times, Jack’s cabin demeanor is currently one of happy curiosity mingled with silly, cuddly affection. He is happy to do whatever it is that we are all doing together, and when we aren’t outside, he is creating his own sensory haven with the two vacuum cleaners which reside here.
I took a long walk with my two middle boys today and was in awe of the complete lack of difficult behaviors. We simply walked. And looked at the sandhill cranes on the pond. And threw loads of rocks in the river. And explored the clumps of cork bark firs growing in pockets around the cabin. I think Jack would have walked for miles, but I wanted to keep this beautiful, happy morning outing unspoiled and end it before things went sour.
As we walked, and twice as we stood on the banks of the creek, Jack laughed and gave me a happy, extended hug. While he can’t really speak with much consistency or vocabulary, that boy sure does a good job of telling us how he feels. I’m grateful that he wears his emotions on his sleeve so we can better decipher his moods and wants when our motley communication efforts break down.
After our fairy-tale perfect nature walk, Jack watched contentedly as I played ping pong with two of his brothers. He hummed happily watching the electric trains circle the little winter village in the basement. He requested and ate a plateful of chicken nuggets, actually sitting calmly at the table on the back porch with the rest of us. This feat alone is especially noteworthy and actually fairly miraculous. But he didn’t stop exuding joy there! Jack cavorted around the bonfire we circled as dusk fell on the smoky valley. He bathed in an unfamiliar tub with no complaints. He requested a bedtime snack, he shared a toy with his brother, and he left a little gift in the toilet (instead of on the floor, walls, and bed sheets).
It is completely refreshing and essentially intoxicating to experience this kind of relaxed, peaceful family time. It’s so lovely and calm. I don’t want to think about the possibility of it being ephemeral. For the next couple of weeks, Jeff is home with us full-time as we enjoy his two weeks of paid paternity leave offered by the Sheinhardt Wig Company (wink*). It’s the first time I have not feared Spring Break. Now I don’t ever want it to end!
Today as we bumped along on one of our rides in “Jack’s Jalopy” (Grandpa’s Kawasaki Mule), we glimpsed a muskrat swimming soundlessly across the pond. His glistening pelt shone like the still water and his wake streamed out a fluid V behind his smooth progress. His quiet swim within the lovely landscape of our surroundings mirrors my own pristine excursion with my family. I felt as free as he appeared.