The first thing most people notice about my 2-year-old, Shaya, is his hair.
He doesn’t allow us to brush it so we have given up and allowed his crazy locks to bloom. Straight on the top and wildly curly underneath, his hairstyle encompasses his personality completely. Baruch Hashem we only have four more months till his
. We joke that no one will recognize him once he looks “normal.”
Normal is all relative, especially when talking about Shaya.
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The next thing people quickly notice are his clothes. Always in black and white, Shaya likes to only wear Shabbos clothes. It’s a running joke amongst our friends and family that our 2-year-old little boy is the most religious member of our brood. My husband doesn’t even wear a black hat nor does he wear the Yeshivish penguin suit. But Shaya loves to rock it out in his t-shirt tzizis and Shabbos clothes, flopping around in his one size too big Shabbos shoes. I thought my husband would have a heart attack when we bought those for him, but what could I do? None of the others were “right.” When you sit “fixing” shoes for 20 minutes until he’s okay walking in them and now you’re late for school, appointments, etc. I’ve learned to pick and choose my battles when it comes to Shaya.
I often say to my friends that Hashem gave him to me so that I would learn that I can’t control everything. But the truth is that I’m not a control freak, just the opposite. I do care how we present ourselves in public. I always want my family to look their very best, but that’s kind of hard with a kid like mine. His overall disheveled look is not me giving up, but me allowing him to be who he is.
Any parent of a sensory sensitive kid can relate to my problems. I am not unique. On a daily basis I deal with tantrums, stubbornness, and Shaya’s deep desire to do everything on his own. I know this sounds like any other toddler to you, but with a sensory sensitive kid, every situation is heightened tenfold. Believe me I know, he’s my number four. The only way to get him out of his moods or to redirect him is to put on music. He can sing perfectly on key and he sang before he could talk.
I often wake up to the sounds of “Button Me.” To most mothers, waking up at the crack of dawn to button up your child’s shirt may seem bothersome, but to me I choke back tears every time I hear him speak in the morning. Shaya has language processing issues and has therapy multiple times throughout the week. Between Developmental Intervention, Speech, and Occupational Therapy, my house in the afternoon is a buzzing place of learning and activities. I’ll never forget the first time I heard him say “Mommy.” He had just come home from his first day of playgroup and he ran over to me screaming, “Mommy!” with his arms open wide.
I had to hide all of his clothes once he started growing out of them. I filled the drawers with colorful button down shirts and a variety of pant styles. But every morning he would pull out everything onto the floor just to find his black and white digs. If there is nothing to find in his drawers, he will then go to his 4-year-old brother’s drawer to ransack. He would rather wear big pants that he has to hold up than any other Shabbos attire.
Which brings me to this past Shabbos. My poor Shaya had no Shabbos clothes to wear since we hadn’t done his laundry in time. He refused to consider the other nice outfits I had, instead pillaging his brother’s drawers. Everyone at shul laughed as his pants continuously fell down and his cute diaper tush showed. And then this morning, a stranger left a pair of shabbos pants hanging on the front door. I guess they assumed that we needed a new pair, because we didn’t have any more.
Truth be told, when I opened up the little black bag hanging from my doorknob and saw the pants inside, I was a little embarrassed. Did they think I couldn’t afford to buy my son a new pair? But then I remembered how wonderful our little town of Passaic is. It’s a treasure to surround yourself with people who will help those around them, even when there is no need to.
Although we have our own pants (a whole drawer filled), I will tuck these new black Shabbos pants into Shaya’s drawer, and when his eyes light up because he found this pair to wear, it will be because of this stranger’s generosity and kindness.
Shaya and I thank you.