McJoyful

Yesterday was a good day.

A very good day.

I had the opportunity to spend it with my bestie and his posse while he ran sound for a benefit concert.

Anytime I get to be outdoors, surrounded by great people and music and tons of laughter, I am one happy gal.

So when I received the text message from my mom, I was already on a super happy high.

Her message read that she was taking my daughter to see a movie, and Zion didn’t want to go.

He wanted to see his mama.

Be still my heart.

So I headed over to mom’s house to pick him up.

When I pulled in the driveway, Zion was waiting outside on the sidewalk.

The moment he saw my car, he started jumping up and down and flapping his hands.

Flapping serves a number of functions when a child has autism.

This time he was expressing joy.

It’s not every day that you see a hyperactive toddler in a 140 pound teenager’s body…

unless you’re me.

I get to see it every day.

And I’m grateful.

Zion teaches me over and over again to find joy in the little things.

As I got out of the car, he came running over to me and in his trademark way he pointed directly at my face and said, “Hello mama! How are you?”

I smiled and said, “I’m good, buddy.”

He was talking a million miles a minute, very excited that his sister was staying with her grandmother…and that he was getting mama to himself.

I laughed at his excitement as I collapsed onto mom’s porch swing, just then realizing how much heat exposure I’d had and how little I’d hydrated and eaten.

So out of sheer laziness I said, “Buddy, what drive-thru can we hit for your dinner?”

He practically shrieked, “MCDONALDS!”

Barf.

But I immediately obliged.

Once Zion gathered up his things and his shoes, (barefoot, yes always barefoot) we headed to the car.

My dad was ride-mowing his own grass as well as the grass of both neighbors, and right as we were about to get in the car, dad motioned Zion over.

Zion ran to him.

I watched my sweet father position himself so that Zion could climb up onto the riding mower and take a lap around the yard with him.

Please remember that Zion isn’t a squirt anymore.

He is a big ole teenager.

It was pretty funny to watch.

And please forgive me for not taking a photo, but I was too busy giggling.

As dad drove around the yard, I could hear Zion squealing over the loudness of the lawn mower.

And every time they passed in front of me, Zion would wave, parade-style, and yell, “Hi mama!”

Zion talked about that lawnmower ride all the way to Mickey D’s.

When we pulled in the parking lot, I asked Zion if he wanted to eat inside.

He practically leapt out of the car.

One thing that I super-love about my kid, is that when he is happy or excited about something, he is a hoot to watch.

If you ever want to witness joy in it’s purest form, come with us to the park.

Or the beach.

Or Mickey frickin D’s.

I promise you will smile until your cheeks hurt.

So Zion runs into the restaurant, and miraculously, there is no one in line.

He Tiggers up to the cashier, points to her face of course, and says “Hello girl! How are you?”

She didn’t even crack a smile.

She didn’t respond.

She couldn’t have been less responsive.

I wanted to throat punch her a little.

She managed to squeak out “How can I help you.”

Not a question even.

Really more of a statement.

That she needed a laxative to push out.

I made my token lip-poking expression, I’m sure:

Zion however, was unphased.

He even jumped up and down while he ordered his nuggets and fries.

They called our number and we gathered our tray, as Zion chose a table right by the window.

He narrated every bite of that meal, laughing and giggling and flapping his French fries away.

I come to McDonald’s with mama!”

I eat the chicken nuggets!”

I love you, mama!”

I am ashamed to admit there was a time when I would have shooshed this behavior.

I would have asked him to be quiet, looking around to make sure we weren’t disturbing anyone, sprouting sweat beads on my nose if I thought anyone was staring.

Now I put Master Zion center stage and give him a microphone.

Because I couldn’t be prouder of him and the progress he has made.

He’s not throwing a tantrum or throwing things or hurting anyone…

he is JOYFUL.

Blissfully happy.

And I will never once ever extinguish the fire of his joy again.

And if that bothers you, please feel free to get your Big Mac to-go.

As Zion finished his food, a lady stopped by our table and said, “You are a happy boy, aren’t you?”

Zion looked right at the woman and said, “Zion happy with mama!”

You know, I thought about that statement all night.

He said Zion happy with mama.

He didn’t say chicken nuggets. Or cold, over-priced French fries.

He said mama.

The root of his joy was just having me to himself.

Thank you for another life lesson, Z.

Gives a whole new meaning to the Happy Meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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