This past weekend was Thanksgiving, so we headed up to the in-laws' cottage as is our tradition. Last week was a pretty rough week with Bear, so TheODDDad had suggested we could stay home if I needed to (bless him...the cottage is his favourite place in the whole world, so that shows just how bad my week was -- and how much he loves me), but I had been really looking forward to it.
It's always crazy when we get together at the cottage. It's just a cottage. A real cottage. Not a house "cottage." A small cottage. A real old-fashioned don't-worry-if-you-track-sand-through-the-cottage-or-if-the-wet-dogs-are-sleeping-on-the-couch type of cottage. So it was us, my brother-in-law and his family (another 5 people), my in-laws, and three dogs. Six adults, five kids ranging between 18 months and 15 years old, and three dogs ranging from 20 lbs to 100 lbs. Adults get beds and kids get floors and couches. Dogs get wherever is left. Big kids look after little kids and adults sit and watch as teenage boys turn to young men before our eyes and little boys flourish under the attention of their big cousins.
Craziness ensued. Laughter bubbled. Tension faded. It was glorious.
One of the most amazing things to happen this weekend is that we saw a whole new side of Bear. Whether he's hitting a new stage where he's becoming more confident or whether his new anti-anxiety meds are starting to work, I'm not sure, but I really liked what I saw. Bear has always refused to go anywhere near the Mule (picture a cross between a golf cart and an ATV) or any of the boats. When they start up, he goes running in the other direction, terrified. Yet there he was within about an hour of arriving at the cottage, perched on the seat of the Mule beside his big cousin, going on trails through the woods and loving every second of it. This was so out-of-the-blue and momentous that TheODDDad and I actually stood there in disbelief, hugging and struggling to hold back tears of joy as our little boy came out of his shell. He also went for a walk in the woods with us (another first, and just hours after telling us on the way to the cottage that he was not a "walk in the woods at the cottage type of boy" because he was scared of the bears and the porcupines) and even chatted with some teenage girls he had never met before. This from a little boy who just a few weeks ago became violent at the prospect of having to walk through the waiting room at the doctor's office and has been known to hide for hours on end because someone he has never met is visiting. We were stunned with the changes we saw this weekend, and so hopeful that he'll now be open to new experiences.
It's hard to watch your child struggle with things that come naturally to other kids, but the feeling that comes from watching your child flourish and overcome his challenges can't be measured. Here's to you, my brave Bear! Mommy's proud of you.