Autism Watch: 2007

Christmas, Snow, Gingerbread Men and Presents

Posted on: December 29, 2008

All year long, Christmas is on a kid’s mind. They talk about how many days there are left, what they want, and seeing Santa. We teach them the reason for the holiday (which, in my very outspoken opinion, is a Christian holiday and should be celebrated as such) and we hope they remember it when the time comes. Kids have such big plans for the holiday, but then, so do I. I build up the day so much, way in advance. I plan how we’ll perfectly decorate our house. I plan the food I’ll bake, and who will sit around and enjoy it with us, candles burning and making the house smell like Christmas, Christmas lights blinking and glowing. Carols playing. Ribboned boxes and bags under the tree — early — and visits planned throughout the holiday week. Then, I throw in the reality. Therapy appointments and cooldown periods for ds. Special shopping trips to be sure ds’s ‘want’ list is adequately covered. Wine for those nights we stay home and have to count to ten because ds is being obstinate.

What would I do different next year? I won’t have a party, at least not to the extent of what we did this year. Too much time invested. Instead, a smaller gathering for our friends rather than trying to open up our house to so many and meet new people. Time taken from my family. But, still, everything paid off. We had baked goods aplenty to give as gifts to neighbors and friends who were unable to attend, and I didn’t have to bake anything else. And the house was already decorated.

It was, and is, a wonderful holiday season. We baked and decorated gingerbread men, after assembling a pre-made Wilton gingerbread house. (Note: warn children frequently not to eat house decorations. Dentists aren’t open on Christmas Eve.) We played games. We watched Christmas movies. (Another note: buy your Christmas DVDs early in the season. Dh braving Wal-Mart crowds on Christmas Eve morning is a story in itself. Or set your Tivo two months in advance. Apparently, many movies show around Thanksgiving, who knew?)

Then there was the weather. Cold and rainy. And cold. (Imagine states other than California thinking 90 degrees is hot — that’s how it is when California temps drop below 40.) We had flurries two days before Christmas, and our mountains were covered in white, and still are. We visited the infamous Thoroughbred Lane in Alta Loma (viewable on this blog: The Smith’s Canvas in the USA Thanks to the Smith’s blog for doing such a great photog job! Hope you don’t mind I shared your link here!) and saw firsthand one big change in ds. Halfway through the walk, ds yells that he’s dropped his magic wand — one of those plastic batons full of liquid and glitter that he’d gotten as a prize from John’s Incredible Pizza at his birthday party earlier this month — and after walking back a few miles..okay, a thousand feet??…we couldn’t find it. He didn’t even cry! He did get quiet, then a few minutes later announced that he felt good knowing that some other kid out there who picked it up most definitely was having a lot of fun with it. Awwwww. Almost back to where we’d parked our car, we find a family selling…you guessed it…magic wands! $2 and a minute later, ds was playing with a light-up wand. Wow.

A post-script? We got home, pulled the stroller out of the trunk to stow back in the garage, and the original wand fell out of a hidden crevice. Two wands!

Christmas day was as perfect as could be. Ds was happy with his gifts, as were the girls. Older ds spent the whole day with us, and we all enjoyed playing with the new Wii games, our non-fancy-but-perfect ham dinner, and we all lived to tell about the Battle of the Nerf Guns. Ds got four of them for Christmas, and I am still finding bullets in odd places. Dd is still glued to her laptop. I think I’ve seen her for three meals in the last four days. Oh, and at church on Sunday.

Two days after Christmas, we got the bright (ha) idea to go play in the snow. Great idea actually, except everyone else within three hours driving distance decided to do the same thing. The bathroom line was 45 minutes at the last potty-stop before the snow, and that was just the beginning. Traffic was moving at a snail’s pace, so we finally found a place to pull off and play. Perfect location, snow up to our knees, where we made pathetic snowmen (cute but pathetic) and threw chunks at each others’ heads. We made the drive all the way home to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf with nary a stop (laughing at those in line at the AM/PM) and had a calm evening. Snowplay is great, free occupational therapy.

Today, as we’re packing the RV for a New Year’s camping trip — four days of dry camping, with a generator and bottled water — we find that older ds’s iguana had passed. 😦  I don’t care how old your kids are, when a pet dies, your heart still cracks as they deal with the loss. In telling ds, he just stopped for a second…didn’t move, didn’t speak, just stared at me. He then said “awww, poor Bubu.” (That’s how he spells Bubba, his longtime nick for his brother.) “It makes me want to cry.” But, a minute later, he’d moved on. And here I was trying so hard to prevent him from seeing the iguana before/after. Do I underestimate him sometimes?

While out camping, I presume we’re going to run into a few roadblocks. Ds can’t ride an ATV on his own, nor will he want rides on anyone else’s for long. He can’t yet ride his new bike without training wheels, unusable in this terrain, and he can’t take the Wii or his computer. We’re using generator/battery power. I’ve packed a slew of games and outdoor activities, and a billion snacks. Oh, and his entire set of Gameboys, DSs, PSPs, etc. will be charged and ready to go. It’ll be pitch black at night, so I am thankful our RV has a full bath. He can watch movies while the adults are hanging around the firepit and the older kids are otherwise occupied. (He’ll be the youngest, with the oldest, other than my older two who aren’t staying beyond Thurs., being 14 years old.) We’ve got a plethora of flashlights, too, and a first aid kit and pharmacy shelf to rival a drugstore. (And the fact that we’re within 20-30 mins of a store, at most, helps…oh, and a hospital, too.)

Anyway, it’s been a good holiday season. (And this all relates to autism, my blog focus, I promise.) The plans I made came through, and there were no major letdowns. Enough planning with room for deviation from our schedule kept us mostly stress-free, so ds didn’t pick up on anything that would hinder him from relaxing. He’s far too wise for his age, and we have to be careful. He has spent hours on Club Penguin, thriving on the one-on-one attention he gets from two parents on vacation. We’ve taken a break from so many of our daily autism-related issues — no school problems, no homework, no therapy appointments, no stressed errands, no rushing around — yet autism is still here. We may be able to alter the environment enough to keep major issues at bay, but it’s temporary. Even at our best, we can’t prevent things from happening. We can’t let him run the house or dictate everyone’s plans or actions. He’s still got this unusual habit of cutting off his nose to spite his face; for example, I tell him to come back to the Sorry game and sit down so others could take their turns, and he refused to play anymore. Tonight, he climbed out of the jacuzzi early because I told him to not lean back so far or he’d knock my water bottle off the edge. I can buy him all the Under Armour in the world, to keep him warm while camping, but I can’t be sure he won’t get hurt feelings when another kid doesn’t want to play with him. We saw it happen while we were out on Sunday — he tries so hard to fit in with the other kids, and most of them just ignore his following right behind them. A few address him, a couple doing so well with including him. Most though? You hear “Stop.” I can’t blame the kids — I see the parents quite often doing the same thing, or they aren’t taught to be nice to other kids, just those who they want as friends. I can’t fix every issue he has to face, but I do hope to teach him to befriend the underdog and to play with the lonely kids. Don’t pick on someone whose different, and if someone’s having a bad moment, assume they’re having a bad day rather than assuming they’re a bad kid. Then there’s the phenomena of parents who try to discipline or correct ds, rather than looking at their own child or, worst case scenario, approaching us about what ‘might’ have happened. Christmas spirit doesn’t prevent the normal things from occurring, but it does make it harder to take. If we can’t be nicer at this time of year, when can we?

I’m off to listen to ds tell me about his latest Club Penguin mission. Online, he has a list of friends, so many he doesn’t have enough room on his list. That’s definitely worth $5.95 a month.

Merry Christmas to everyone, and have a wonderful New Year!

Advertisements

1 Response to "Christmas, Snow, Gingerbread Men and Presents"

Ok, first things first…can I have that open spot in the hot tub?
We actually have the opposite problem with ‘C’…kids want to engage him sometimes, but he isn’t interested in playing with them. Ugh.
I miss the routine of school and I think ‘C’ does too. He tries to run the house and its so many battles over control. Can’t wait til Monday.
Have a great trip. Happy New Year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 35 other followers

Twitter Updates


%d bloggers like this: