My daughter, Marie, was chosen for a special snowboarding program for students with psychiatric disabilities. A team of trainers from a local mountain have donated their time, and the mountain has donated the snowboarding equipment to coordinate a comprehensive, six week snowboarding school. Marie, who loves the snow, skiing and snowmobiling, was thrilled to be selected.
I was thrilled for her to be chosen, not only because it will be a great program for her, but because for Christmas it also gave me something to buy a child who “has everything”. My husband and I visited a local winter sports store that had a 75% off sale because of a recent fire, (yay! I love bargains!)) I delighted in choosing snow pants, little socks with the toes in them, which are then worn under insulated socks, little gloves with fingers in them which are then worn under insulated snow mittens, insulated underwear, (tops and bottoms, of course,) a ski face mask, a warm winter hat with a brim, and, most importantly of all according to my husband, a snowboarding jacket. He explained that snowboarding jackets are much longer than ski jackets because you spend so much time on your butt! I was delighted with our purchases, although I later realized that I had forgotten the ski goggles. We packed them all up in a Christmas bag which Marie opened to great excitement Christmas morning. To say she was thrilled was an understatement. She beamed. She glowed. She was going to be a snowboarder. At the end of Christmas day, we packed up all of her presents and brought her back to her residential school.
In order to add a little excitement to her Christmas vacation, I took her for a weekend in Boston. After I picked her up, we stopped at a Panera Bread for lunch before we boarded the train for Boston. I was so surprised, (shocked, embarrassed) that she was dressed in ALL of her snowboarding gear, such as in the above photo I took of her. I told her to take the mask off or she would scare little children away. She looked around and saw no kiddos running from her screaming, and she told me she was fine. I was mortified, (which is not an easy feeling for me.) The only thing I could be thankful for was the fact that I had forgotten to buy those ski goggles, because she would have certainly been wearing them, also.
While in Boston, we had planned to go to the Aquarium, but she asked to go ice skating instead, which made way more sense than the aquarium. (I could envision the fish swimming away from her in terror!) Unfortunately, no one had given ME snowboarding equipment for Christmas, so I only had on a light winter coat. My plans for the weekend were to run from metro stop to metro stop doing activities indoor. I was dressed for fish viewing and shopping, NOT for the cold weather. But, as most mothers can attest to, I wanted to make my daughter happier, so off we went to the Frog Pond Skating Rink.
Being a little bit unsteady on my own feet, I convinced her to skate by herself and I would wave at her every time she skates by. That’s LOTS of waving, by the way. But there was happiness in my heart because every time she came around the corner, she would search for me, smile broadly,and wave.
Marie then demonstrated what Angel had demonstrated on Christmas Day. She started helping people! She would look for a child, unsteady on his/her feet, and then she would skate backwards and hold his/her hands. Around and around the rink she would go, sharing her skating skills to help others learn to skate. Once the child was steadier on his/her skates, she would go around looking for another person to help. Then, to my amazement, she went up to offer her assistance to a young man with a severe developmental disability. His skates were turned inward, ankles almost on the ice. She helped him stand up, and, with his hands on her shoulders, she skated backwards pulling him. Because of his disability,it was obvious that he was not going to be able to skate independently with any degree of skill. So Marie stayed with him for over an hour. They both laughed and when he was called off the ice to go home, he hugged her and smiled. He apparently could not talk, but she knew he was saying thank you. She turned to find me, and with a big smile on her face she waved. I waved back.
I froze that day…my toes were not covered by little toe socks and insulated socks, my hands were not covered little finger gloves and insulated gloves. I was not wearing insulated underwear, or snow pants, or a warm hat with a brim, or even a snowboarding coat which would have covered my butt so I would have been warm. However, while my body may have been experiencing hypothermia, my happy heart was keeping me warm.