Two weeks before Christmas my 9 year-old son told me that all he wanted for Christmas from me was for the two of us to ride the Amtrak.
I told him that we could ride the Amtrak for his Christmas present, but that I still wanted him to open something on Christmas morning. He actually wanted to ride the train on Christmas Day but knowing that nearly everything would be closed, he said I could buy him three books to open.
A train ride and three books was all my son wanted for Christmas.
Tavares is the youngest of my two children. He is a special needs child that was diagnosed with a rare disease called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex before he was two years of age. I came out of denial and blogged about it last year.
My son has a multitude of medical conditions including:
- Tuberous Sclerosis Complex
- Several brain tumors
- Seizure history
- Developmental delay
- Renal (kidney) cysts
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) requiring daily medication
- Right leg swollen since Memorial Day of last year
- Behavior challenges (can have aggressive meltdowns)
- Peanut and tree nut allergy. Severely allergic to peanuts, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios
With an early childhood education, and ongoing learning and support at school and home, my son has come a long way including:
- All A’s and one B on current report card (3rd grade)
- Excellent with numbers, dates, geography, meteorology
- Vast knowledge of trains
- Elected to student council last month. He tied with another student so a tie-breaker vote was held. Another tie so they both got in!
With all of the above mentioned, how could I not put my child on that train?
When I say that Tavares is obsessed with trains, I mean just that. I am not talking about just watching trains, he knows the different types and how they operate. He knows the parts of a train and terminology. His interest in trains began around two years ago, and he is determined to attend college to study and become a train engineer.
After looking at routes to other cities in Michigan, we decided to leave the state and spend Christmas Eve in Chicago, IL.
By the way, did I mention that my son downloaded the Amtrak app on his iPhone last summer? And that he knows Amtrak can travel up to 150 mph, but that it wouldn’t travel that fast on our trip? He also knew that our train would start traveling 110 mph once we got to Kalamazoo, MI. Don’t ask me how he knew that because I have no clue.
The five-hour and some minutes train ride from Flint, MI to Chicago, IL was wonderful. Tavares wanted to go to the museum in Chicago so we took a taxi to the Field Museum. The dinosaur exhibit was awesome, and I had a great time at the Ancient Egypt exhibit. The tomb and mummies were amazing.
We Ubered back to Union Station a few minutes earlier than I originally planned because Tavares knew there was an Amtrak merchandise store located inside of Union Station. In case you’re wondering, yes he bought something.
While I was driving home that night, my son said, “Mom this was the best Christmas present ever. And do you know what the best part is? I got to spend time with you.”
Tears rolled down my face just as they are now.
My son is aware of his health issues and he lets nothing stand in his way while pursuing his goals in life.
I am not going to let anything stand in his way either.