Traditions New

 

Three years ago we left for vacation early on Christmas morning.

Two years ago was the very first time in my life I believe, that I did not have to go anywhere on Christmas Day.

Back, many years ago when I was single and working in a convalescent home, I would always volunteer to work on Christmas Day firstly because I absolutely LOVED the clients which turned out to be a big reason why I decided going to school for nursing would not be for me – I just got FAR too attached to the patients/clients.  Secondly because I could avoid the whole Christmas dinner with relatives and just show up later, after work.

Then I became a mother and still, staying home never seemed to be an option. DC had little time to “play” (I use the word, play loosely) or use his gifts before we had to leave and go somewhere for dinner.

We go to my mother’s on Christmas Eve, a tradition she started many years ago for the same reasons – too much to do on Christmas Day. He gets his Grandma fix. We have dinner. We open presents. He gets to see his “Fam-ill-lee”, which he loves. So he is not missing out on any of the regular Christmas festivities.

I believe it may have been the vacation three years ago that finally allowed us to break the Christmas Day tradition for the following year and, this year became the second Christmas that we just stayed home. DC was happy. I was happy. Doug who is not really a “holiday guy” and is really only in it for the food, was also happy.

DC had time to look at and play with all of his loot. He had time to just “chill out” (his latest phrase) and like the year before, we went out for Chinese food at night for dinner. We are lucky that there happens to be a pretty good sit-down Chinese restaurant about 5 minutes away, in the next town.

Chinese Food Is a Newer Development in DC-land: We all know that DC is a picky eater. There are only a handful of items he will eat in a restaurant. You see, eating out is supposed to be fun, so yes, he will eat a salad at home, but don’t ask him to eat one in a restaurant. He will eat vegetables at home, but vegetables are not restaurant foods, so just forget it. He will eat pasta at home (another newer development) but he is not happy about it and will NEVER eat it anywhere else – correction: he did twice but both times he was at a party and there were no other options.

Restaurant food is:

Cheeseburger and french fries

Wings

Pizza

Garlic Bread

Chicken Tenders

BREAD

His limited menu, limits our dining out choices, especially on Christmas night when almost all one can find open are Chinese restaurants.

About a year ago, we ordered takeout and the only thing that DC would eat on a Chinese food menu was the wings, so that is what he ordered. I ordered the sweet and sour shrimp. DC saw it. It was battered and fried, so he wanted to try it. I warned him that there was shrimp inside, but it was battered and fried so he was not going to pass it up.

He liked it.

He came back for more.

We determined that this was not just a fluke when the next time we ordered takeout he ordered the wings and again took half of my ‘Sweet Sire Shimp‘.

So now our new Christmas tradition of Chinese food is something he looks forward to and not something we have to research and figure out what we can talk him into.

We went…..

There was no heat….

It was okay though….

We, along with the 3 other tables of people, ate with our coats on…

DC, in his short sleeve shirt (we just recently transitioned from his fall coat to his heavy winter coat, so the transition from short to long sleeves will have to wait a bit) did not want to wear his coat. One does not wear a coat while eating in a restaurant.

Normally I would try to avoid this argument, but IT WAS TOO COLD not to make him wear it.

He got over it when I told him he could wear it over his shoulders like a cape.

 

We ordered a Pu-Pu Platter, which he thought hilarious.

He ate the wings.

We had the rest.

He ordered his “Sweet Sire Shimp

 

Let’s just say, normally when DC is done eating – and he eats very fast – he is done. Keeping him occupied while Doug and I finish is not always easy. He has his book, but that only lasts so long.

Believe it or not, we stayed, I am guessing close to an hour after he was finished talking to the people in the booth behind us – which is what one does in an almost completely empty restaurant. He was totally included in the conversation and seemed to be enjoying it. He never once asked to leave.

They were visiting from the warmth of Arizona and staying in a hotel so unlike us who planned to be there,  I imagine that this restaurant was one of the very few options open for them.

We had a good time and there were hugs all around when it was time to leave.

It just goes to show that you do not always have to do what you have always done, just because you have always done it or are expected to. You can make your own holiday traditions and have a good time doing it.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from DC, Me and Doug too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are allowed to Vent sometimes…

I wrote this post a few months back but due to the string of crabby posts I had published around that same time, I decided to sit on it for awhile…..

Just a few days ago I was involved in a couple of discussions that were not about this topic exactly,  but sort of around the same areas of frustration, I remembered this post and have updated it to include the other topics of discussion….

I am also realizing that this is what is becoming my annual, before the holidays crabby post.

I do want to be very clear that I am in no way complaining about my child. I love him more than life itself and there is nothing I would not do for him. This has little or nothing to do with him directly, just the people around us (all of us).

(updated portions are in italic)


I was reading a face book status recently written by the mother of an autistic adult son. The post was about a certain event that her son was planning for. He was planning out everything everyone was going to do for him and give him, while never giving a thought about doing one thing for his mother (the poster).

She was venting…. just venting.

Now… parents of Neurotypical children seem to be allowed to, and quite often do vent, and I have read much worse from some of those parents. For some reason, we are not.

When we do, one or more of these things happens:

1. we get a truckload of advice

2. we are made to feel as if we should somehow be above complaining

or

3. we have people feeling the need to explain autism to us.

The comments she was receiving came mostly from group number 3 and I really started to feel bad for her.

“You know he has autism”

“That’s what autism is like”

“Being self-centered can be a trait in (SOME) autistics”

News flash….. we know this. Just because we know this does not mean we do not still have our feelings hurt from time to time. We are still human.

DC is a pretty lovable guy and I do know that he loves me. Not being from a very affectionate family, except when we were forced to hug and kiss every single person who came to visit or we went to visit (children should never be forced to hug and/or kiss ANYONE if they are not comfortable doing so – my opinion only), I am sure I over-compensated for that with DC and some of his “cuddliness” is learned behavior – not all, but some. I also know that in his mind, everything is about him. I am not complaining at all, I know this. This does not mean that I don’t get my feelings hurt when his Dad shows up and it’s like the heavens have opened. Or when I know he is only excited about my birthday (that comes right before his) because HE is going to get to go out to dinner.

Sure, there are times when he goes out of his way to do something nice for me out of the blue, like bringing me coffee (sometimes out of the sink, but he tries) but the reality is that yes, he knows he is doing something nice, but he also knows he is going to be praised for it. He does it for the praise and I am his biggest enabler in that area (She says after buying and just finishing wrapping a gift to myself from DC, so he can be excited and praised for giving me a gift on Christmas. Do not worry, he is a man and practiced at the art of taking credit for anything given or sent with his name attached, whether he knows about it or not.). Being raised in negativity, I do tend to go out of my way to praise him for every little thing and I do love to see him happy. I am thankful that he does want to do nice things for me and others, no matter the motivation behind it. After all of this time and understanding everything I have learned and understand about him over these past 26 years, I still can have my feelings hurt. I know it is not his fault and I am sure that the face book status poster knows that as well, but sometimes we just need to vent – just like everyone else…

Sometimes we get our feelings hurt too – just like everyone else and there should be no shame or guilt in that…

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I was recently involved in an “All kids do that” discussion. “All kids do that” is a pet peeve of many parents of autistic children and adults. It tells us that you believe we are exaggerating their behaviors or difficulties or worse….. feeding into them or creating them.

My reply: (edited because many of my comments written on my phone are strewn with typos and could be said a bit better if in front of a computer with time to think)

I think that much of the problem comes from it being very difficult to explain our children to people (especially when they are not listening due to their own preconceived notions). Saying that he can’t stay alone or he is impulsive does not give the full/true picture. Because we cannot stand there and give 1000 examples to make them understand – they just will not get it. This is a big reason why I continued to blog. Lots of Stories to give a snapshot of how his mind works. Unfortunately the people who might benefit from understanding how his mind works probably do not read Autism blogs. Believe it or not, I get the same response “all kids do that” and I have to remind them that he is 26 and all kids or adults do not do that.

(Please listen to Val’s video that came out of the same conversation: THE BLAME GAME – WHY WE BLAME OURSELVES BUT YOU SHOULDN’T (VIDEO) )

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Coming in on the heels of  “All kids do that” for me is “All parents have to do that”

I have been doing this parenting thing a long time now and I have come to realize that some events and gatherings are just not worth it. Most times, DC really could not care less if we go or not. There are a few exceptions to this and we do always attend those gatherings. 

When I try to explain that these events are not enjoyable for me (and as I said, he does not care if we go or not) because I have to watch him every minute – not because he will do something horrible but because he is not always aware of his surroundings and I have to make sure he does not bulldoze over a smaller person or child. He gets excited and wants to hug everyone. He does know to ask permission first, but there are times when he just gets too excited to remember to ask. Some people do not like to be hugged. He is a big guy and a bear hug from him can make you feel as if you are being crushed. I have to watch that he does not stick his hands in the food and a hundred other things.

“All parents have to do that”

Really? 

Do all parents get relegated to the basement when it is announced that all of the children have to go downstairs? The other children’s parents could let their children play in the basement without them, but I could not do that. I still could not do that today.

After 2 1/2 hours (I know this due to the number of times we watched the Winnie the Pooh video) in the basement while all of the adults were either upstairs or outside playing football – I had to wonder why we felt we had to attend. I could have been watching Winnie the Pooh in the comfort of my own home. How was this enjoyable?

Do all parents have to make sure their 26 year old child is in their line of sight at all times?

Do all parents have to bring extra gifts for their child to open so while everyone else is opening “just what I wanted” gifts, he does not end up with just an Autism Awareness Bag (just a bag – a shopping bag) or a mini-sharpie on a key chain or one of those little lunch boxes that he knows come filled with candy, without the candy? 

Your child tries numerous times to say hello to a child on the other side of the room. She just stares at him as if she is terrified, and her father, instead of asking her to answer him, puts his arm around her as if he was protecting her from this horribly scary person who is saying hello from across the room. Do all parents have to lie to their child by telling him she answered but he just did not hear her, so he won’t have his feeling hurt?

Don’t get me wrong; DC is not sheltered. He does many things and goes many places, but I have learned over the years that these types of gatherings are just not fun for anyone.

While we are on the subject:

If your child is an adult…..

Do you have to look for a babysitter if or when you want to actually go out without your child? I do.

Can you just run to the store whenever you need to? I can’t. (I could be there and back by the time I round him up and get him out of the house)

Can you just relax at the pool like everyone else while your adult child swims? I can’t.

Do you have to watch your child while he eats so he does not choke? I do.

Do you have to stand outside the rest room while your child is using it because 1. you don’t know who else might be in there and 2. in case he has a seizure? I do.

Again, I am in no way complaining about my child or our life, but hearing “all parents have to do that” just sends me over the edge. All parents do have to do that…. for a time, not forever. I do not have a problem doing this forever, I just do not want to have to explain myself to anyone anymore.

So, yes by all means invite us. If we can make it, we certainly will. If we do attend, please refrain from the advice, the guilt or the lectures about everything we are doing wrong and how you can do it better.

If we decline; “all kids do that” or “all parents have to do that” is not the road to take to try to change our mind.

Wishing you all a Happy and Anxiety Free Holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Reruns – Lessons from Santa

train s

December, is the time for reruns. I love reruns, especially holiday reruns. The following is a post from December 2014 about the important lesson DC and BB learned while riding the Santa Train.

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Lessons learned on the “Santa Train” – 2014

train

(Code word of the day: “Supplement”)

As parents, we all come to the ‘Questioning the Existence of Santa’ crossroad sooner or later. It is a sad milestone. It begins to be difficult for them to understand and believe in something that they can not see. Sure we see Santa and his helpers quite often during the months before Christmas, but never during his Christmas Eve deliveries. This causes our children to question his existence. Why can’t they see him? Why must they be asleep? As I explained to DC, Santa has a job to do. If he took the time to stop and visit with the children in every house he delivered gifts to, even with his magic, he would never be able to finish in time to get back to the North Pole to celebrate Christmas with Mrs. Claus and the elves.

It took DC many years to understand Santa. He knew he would receive gifts, but the whole idea of Santa was not something that could be understood easily. His not understanding, did not stop Santa from leaving him gifts.

When it finally clicked and he did finally get it, he was all in! Now that he does understand, he would never and will never question his existence.

The one problem was, DC ‘s Christmas requests have always been small (in size) gifts. Santa could very well bring him 20 DVD’s, but the pile of gifts (visually) would be very small. DC doesn’t understand cost/size vs. number of gifts. He expects a very big pile of gifts. So, over the years I would always “supplement” the Santa pile with gifts of my own.

Being a single mother for more than 20 years now, I am the sole “supplement-or” (yes, I know that is not a word) of DC’s gifts. Which means I not only “add” to what Santa brings just to make the pile look more exciting for DC, but I also, of course, have to buy additional gifts from ‘Mom’. This gets to be a little bit overwhelming for me, not only in cost, but in trying to come up with other gifts ideas to make that “pile” he needs to see.

Now that DC is an adult, and the items he asks for are smaller still, it is becoming harder and harder to “supplement” Santa’s  gifts, to make that Christmas gift pile”,  I did finally have to confess to him that some parents, with adult children, have to help Santa out a little bit. Santa has so many little children to deliver packages to on Christmas Eve, that it is hard for him to get to everyone. So now that the is an adult, Santa only delivers his stocking and the rest of the gifts in his pile are from Mom. Santa always did a pretty good job with his stocking, by the way. He was fine with this. As long as Santa is coming, even just to bring a stocking, all is well.

Coincidentally, the morning I read the post from Autism-Mom, was the day that DC, his best friend, BB, BB’s Dad, Doug and I were going to take a ride on the Santa train.

Earlier this week, BB had just been told by one of his other friends that he was too old and should not still believe in Santa. He was upset by this, but BB knew better. He knew he was correct in believing.

Both DC and BB were very excited about riding the train. They always have the best time when they are together anyway.

stst2

Santa boarded the train a few minutes into our trip. He received more hugs that he expected, I imagine.

BB mentioned to Santa, what his friend had said to him that week. Santa took a little bit of time to talk about it with BB and DC.

(This video below is very poor quality – it was dark on the Santa train, but you can hear some the conversation and Santa’s advice to BB)

“Those who don’t believe, well they are the one’s that are missing out” ~ Santa Claus

So there you have it, straight from Santa’s mouth. BB felt much better. He knew it before but now he really knows that he was right all along…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Reruns – In Search of… the Christmas Spirit

 

From December 2016 – In an attempt to muster up some Christmas Spirit, we decided to try to find and visit a few “Christmassy” towns and/or events. What I was really looking for was one of those little towns that one sees over and over again while watching far too many Hallmark Christmas movies (they start running in October, you know).

I wanted to find one of those places where the hotel room is decorated for Christmas. Where you can walk out onto the overly decorated street to find carolers singing, a hot chocolate/cookie stand, Christmas parades and Santa out on the town green. I don’t really care all that much for hot chocolate, but that is what I want. Where can I find a place like that?

Although we did not find the “Hallmark Village”, we did visit a few interesting and yes, “Chrissmassy” places.

Our search will be continued this season… so look out Hallmark, here we come.

In the meantime, let’s revisit last year’s search.

 

#TravelingWithDC – Christmas Quick Trips

DC loves Christmas as much as he loves Halloween.

He loves getting to see Santa, but even more than Santa, he LOVES the rare occasions when he gets to see Mrs. Claus.

His Mrs. Claus cup runneth over this year…..

Me, not having the happiest year this year, needed a boost and set out looking for some Christmas Spirit. Although, I did not really find it – DC sure did.
It was enough for me just seeing him enjoying himself so much and all of the Mrs. Claus sightings certainly added to his excitement about Christmas coming.

Below are a few Facebook posts along with some photos of our journeys this Christmas season (and maybe a little bit before the season)

Our first Christmas-themed trip was accidental. We decided to visit the Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield, MA. We did not know that we would find Christmas, but find it we did.

Trees, lights and snow.

There was singing in the snow……

And…. the first Mrs. Claus sighting of the year!
Thinking he was going to be disappointed that Santa was not there – she apologized and told him that Santa was busy at the factory. Little did she know that Mrs. Claus beats Santa anytime in DC’s book.

There was lots to see and still enough time to take in a show – a quick one.

Thanksgiving was spent in the Essex, CT area but Christmas was already all around..

No trip is ever complete without a book store visit.

December hit and even after a full month of sappy Hallmark Christmas movies under my belt, the spirit was eluding me. So we took a trip to Mystic, CT for the Christmas Fair.

DC’s first meeting with Santa of the season. Santa was unprepared for the big hug he received!

Then he spotted Mrs. Claus! She got an even bigger hug! The icing on the cake!

There were elves, carolers and llamas wandering about. There was music, magic

and an Alice In Wonderland Tea Shop and Store.

There was of course a visit to a book store but I forgot to take a photo.

Treats; we can not forget the treats with hot chocolate.

DC, of course was full of Christmas Spirit by now. I, on the other hand was not…. but it was still enjoyable watching him get so excited.

We planned a weekend in Sturbridge Village the weekend before Christmas, but there was a big storm. Luckily we were able to cancel and re-book for the following weekend. This would mean we would be away on Christmas Eve, Eve and Christmas Eve Day. We would have to rush home for Christmas Eve night at my mother’s house. It would be a little bit rushed, but we decided to book it.

I am glad we did. DC had the best time!

It was just beginning to get crowded when we arrived so one of the workers told us that we would have better luck if we followed the map backwards and went to see Santa first. Later the wait would be hours long. We took that advice and headed straight for Santa.

Santa spent quite a long time with DC -, so much time that I was beginning to get nervous that we were holding up the line. DC was thrilled.

Next, we visited the Talking Tree – he got a big kick out of that.

But he was a little preoccupied by a sign he noticed on the way up to see Santa so that HAD to be our next stop. He was not going to wait any longer.

His THIRD visit with Mrs. Claus this year!

One Happy Guy, right there.

The rest of the Village was “A Christmas Carole” inspired. We watched the lighting of the tree, Carolers were singing. DC met the Ghost of Christmas Present and actually asked him a question instead of his usual reciting of movie lines.

He was not willing to try a sampling of the Cratchit Family Christmas Dinner, though.

“No, No. No! I didn’t! No, I don’t like it!”






At the Bonfire – “Mom, I am getting very nervous about this!”

Yes, of course. Didn’t you know? Couldn’t you guess? There were …….

BOOKS!

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