When Ethan met Santa: One mums account of her very ill little boy's encounter

"I have finally learned- we don't owe anybody an explanation as to why we are parked in a disabled space"

He was watching me; I could feel his eyes on me.
I was sweating, as the 'snow' (an Irish term we use when barely frozen rain falls, intermittently - anytime between November right through to March) gently fell onto my face.
I had one job and one job only; get Ethan into the car without further performances.
D (my husband) was inside the children's ward fixing the Christmas display while apologising to every single person in the waiting room- as 'we' often have to do during and after Ethan's performances.
It was Christmas week and like every year (since Ethan's diagnosis) we were invited to see Santa, along with every other regular visitor to the hospital over that past year.
It is a lovely thing to be invited to; Ethan LOVES Santa.
Ethan cannot understand waiting and he sure as s**t doesn't understand that; when he has spoken to Santa; that it is over...time to go...finished...he couldn't give two 'F's about a gift. (don't get me wrong he loves to open presents, his, yours, a random child's)
He just wants Santa...all to himself.
Turn taking and Ethan never mix well. Never.
But if we let that stop us from taking Ethan to see the man in red; we would be riddled with guilt- our boy deserves to see Santa, we just have to change how we do this as the years progress.
The hospital seemed the best place to do this(at the time and considering Ethan's level of understanding) as Ethan isn't the only kid with extra needs, obviously.
I was sweating for many reasons; I had lifted Ethan from the room where Santa had just finished talking to him (via webcam) while Ethan roared and screamed "Fug off Santa" -- he meant fug off to me; and bring me back to Santa. That however didn't matter to the families and their children waiting their turn.
Ethan managed to bite me , I let him go--truth be told, I kind of 'dropped' him. He ran back into the Santa room and punched a little girl while she was laughing with Santa.
She was no longer laughing; understandably.
Her mother was a perfect parent in that moment and just cuddled her while I chased Ethan and D apologised while picking up the decorations Ethan had thrown in temper/frustration.
"She's fine, don't worry. He's a handful!" I could hear her chatting with D, as he fixed the abused Christmas tree.
Ethan ran out of steam five minutes later, he happily jumped into my arms and was ready to go.
I glanced around at the Elves trying to fix all that he had knocked, apologised again and told D I'd meet him outside.
As the 'snow' hit my face, while trying my best to get Ethan into the car,I knew the man was watching me. I ducked and dived like a pro while Ethan tried his best to play 'punch-bag mammy'.
I managed to get Ethan strapped in while he roared at me to "fug off" over and over.
I closed the door.
Exhaling I looked around. The man was now walking towards me. I smiled, secretly hoping D would come waltzing out any moment now, but knowing there was a lot of apologising and tidying up to do before he could possible leave.
"That's a handicapped spot you've parked in there" his eyes narrowed.
Ah for f**k sake I didn't need this.
"Handicapped is an outdated word, it is a disabled spot" I smiled.
"Well, same thing isn't it? You know I could report you, don't you?" he cleared his throat.
I began to wonder did he want a bribe or something. I laughed at that thought.
"You think that is funny, do you?"
"Oh sorry, no, no I don't. I have the badge there in the front, you're welcome to look at it" I gestured to the front of the car as Ethan was still rocking the car from side to side in temper.
I had to keep an eye on him for safety reasons; I didn't open his door for my personal safety reasons!
"Saw that already. Sure they are easy enough get" he tutted.
"Well, I wish someone told me that, because I had to jump through hoops to get it!" I laughed, trying my best to sound like he wasn't annoying the cr*p out of me.
"You seem like you can walk well enough to me and he does too" he nodded towards a roaring "fug you" Ethan.
"God, that's great news. I know I am abled bodied but my son isn't; according to the experts that is, but I will be sure to let them know that he 'doesn't look it', when I see them again" I patted his arm and went to open the passenger door.
(Ethan had now finished kicking the seat;I felt it safer to be inside the car than outside talking with this man; my patience with this man was running thin)
"I am just saying, you should leave that space for the handicapped, who need it" his voice grew quieter, "The kid has issues, sure, but he isn't a handicapped, I saw him running around the corridors earlier" He pulled up the hud of his coat and went to walk away.
I sighed, I could either just get in the car and let him think his speech 'shamed' me or I could...
"Sorry, excuse me." the words flew out of my mouth. "You have no idea about my son and his 'issues' " I spat, while my inner mammy 'Hulk' cheered me on.
I could feel my face flush with temper.
Just then D appeared with tinsel around his neck and bells hanging from his ears. "You like my new look" he laughed as I turned my angry face to him.
"Ethan broke these so I got a makeover by a little girl!" he laughed out loud.
"Oh you're mad" his face fell, as he finally took his eyes off his new jewellery.
I nodded towards the man who was now standing laughing at the state of D. In fairness D did look like he fell into a Christmas box and came out like a tinsel fairy, he even had a 'halo' on his bald head. It was a sight.
"Hey Buddy, is there a problem ?" D slowly walked towards the man.
"No, no...I was just saying to herself " he nodded at me while I glared at him, "Ah I just told her about the space you guys parked in and..."
"Let me stop ya there buddy, firstly Happy Christmas to you and yours, secondly, you can see the parking badge on the car and the number plates, ring it in if you feel the need to, don't be doing this s**t to my wife outside a children's ward, for Gods sake man, there's no need at all" D didn't wait for a response he turned at me nodded at the car, I got in. D walked around the front of the car pointing to our badge as he went and got in beside me.
"You were about to go crazy on his ass, weren't ya woman!?" D laughed while turning on the engine.
"I've told you a hundred times, let them ring whomever they want, we are legally parked, we don't owe anybody an explanation.You know they are out there, you have to learn to not go all 'hulk' like on them" he patted my leg while I huffed like a spoiled toddler.
I knew he was right.
"You are just jealous that I got a makeover aren't ya?" D teased as we pulled away from the hospital.
I was jealous of that damn makeover, he looked like a Christmas tree while I looked like and felt like the 'Grinch'.
I laughed as Ethan started laughing at D; "Daddy silly", D tossed the tinsel back at him.
I have finally learned; two things, we don't owe anybody an explanation as to why we are parked in a disabled space and secondly; that if I ever see someone parking in a disabled spot with no badge, I'll simply report it--there is no need to let these situations cause me further stress...
Haven't we all enough stress in our lives, after all?
*We haven't been invited back to the hospital 'Santa' since -
no, no not due to this performance; (admit it you all thought it!) but due to Ethan no longer having his infusions in hospital, he has them at home now!
We are currently looking into bringing Santa to us or finding a really nice quiet time to visit a sensory Santa; just Santa with no 'frills'--- yes I know; I'm currently sizing D up ...red is his colour. Shhhh!!!!! 

Kindly submitted by Ger Renton, who will be keeping us up to date on her crazy family life with Ethan & co.
Follow her on facebook at  "It's me Ethan"  and check out her amazing blog at geraldinerenton.com

Ger Renton

Mammy, Wife, Writer, all round fixer of bruised knees, broken toys...always looks for the smile even through the tears!

Read more by Ger
{{ post.excerpt }}
{{ post.content.formatted }}

What is Family Friendly HQ?

Family Friendly HQ is Ireland’s trusted parenting community, dedicated to mums and dads, and families of all shapes and sizes.

Read more about us