When I returned from Vegas, I sifted through the papers in James’ backpack and there was a love note. His first. It was written in kid print and said, “To James: I love you. And you look good, Love Maria”. (Names have been changed so not to scar my son forever.) My heart melted. I channeled my inner Sally Field and shouted, “They like him, they really like him!”
As you may have seen on Facebook, I got to produce the ACM Red Carpet show in Las Vegas for Great American Country this past weekend. I truly love working in television and with such talented people. But the glitz and glamour of Vegas, as well as country music, can be intoxicating. My ego had a hay-day. I got to wear an “all access badge” and strut around like I was ‘somebody’. (Like a silly laminated piece of paper defines me? –Insert gag!) Jim was in Vegas as well, part of the ACM’s Salute to the Troops. (Shameless plug; airs May 20th on CBS)
In the midst of this inflated ego behavior we got a call from James’ school. We were told that there was an ‘incident’ in which he ‘escaped’ and was found outside of the school in the middle of a busy road.“ There were emails and phone calls and tears and hugs. But knowing there was nothing we could do until we returned home, we put it aside and concentrated on our work. (Since this story is not the purpose of this post… I will save the details for another time. But James was and is fine, alive and in one piece and everyone involved took responsibility. That’s what it’s about. You admit what you did wrong and you do better tomorrow. We can’t control what happened, but we can make better choices as me move forward. And we can eat donuts, both to comfort and celebrate!)
The good news about working in production is that you become clueless to what’s happening in the world because all you’re worried about is if the sponsor billboard has the right graphic. Then you come back home and you realize that life kept moving while you were picking out fancy wardrobe and that kids are now hurting kids with knives and they still can’t find the damn plane. I yell at God a lot and tell her that she has it all wrong and these events can’t possibly be part of her plan. Then she reminds me that it’s her plan and not mine and to mind my own business and to do what I was put here to do… to help people who are not as strong, to hug people when they cry and to love without limits. Always easier said than done.
I had nowhere to be yesterday, so I spent a lot of time in my comfy robe, sans all access pass, and got caught up on emails. There amongst the junk mail was a birthday party invitation for James to his classmate Aidyn’s party this weekend. I read over the plans for the party, involving art projects and balloons and… cupcakes, and the confident me, who just had a good nights sleep and enough coffee, stepped up and replied yes, but clarified that we may not stay long because James doesn’t like new environments. As soon as I hit send I was filled with regret.
I spent the whole day second-guessing myself. I thought about James’ past meltdowns in new places and could see and anticipate the outcome. What was I thinking? He is going to hate this! Maybe I should retract my RSVP?
But then, a second email from Aidyn’s mom arrived. It read in part;
”Aidyn talks about James a lot. One of her very best friends has developmental delays, which makes her developmental age somewhere around 2 years old. She will be attending the party, as well as another friend who has Autism. Aidyn has the mindset that I wish many adults would share. When I talked to her once about a foundation that we were supporting that researches how to eliminate Angelman’s Syndrome (her best friend’s diagnosis), she simply said, ‘But I love her just like she is. She is perfect.’ Aidyn feels the same way about James. We love James just like he is and we want him to be at the party.“
Thank you Aidyn’s mom. I needed the perspective today. To be reminded that there are people in this world who have hearts as big as Texas, sometimes in the bodies of a little girls, who know how to do what we were put here to do. Help. Hug. Love.
James grew at least six inches while I was gone. He barely fits on my lap anymore. And he’s talking like crazy. When I asked him this morning what his name was, he said as clear as he ever, ”My name is James Rink“ and then he stuck his finger in my breastbone and said ”bobby!” I have removed the producer hat for my bobby hat. It is not as glamorous and the only all access I get is to the kitchen and laundry room. Oh… and to birthday parties.