Monday, December 20, 2010

A V-8 moment

This morning I was lying in bed thinking over the weekend and literally had a V-8 moment. If I had been awake enough to slap myself in the forehead, I probably would have.

I had been thinking over Saturday, when we celebrated Christmas with Dan's family. Christmases with Dan's parents are always fun and sweet but also very hectic due to the fact that we celebrate in a pretty small space. Their ranch home may have felt downright spacious back when Dan and I were first dating and even when Anna came along it wasn't bad, but now that there are four kids ripping thing apart and toys everywhere, it's a little hectic. I can only imagine how it will be when we throw Denise and Mark's baby #3 into the mix in April.

Christmas had left me feeling a bit frustrated and discouraged. There's nothing like the holidays to bring out all of the quirks in those with ASD. Ethan kept running to the basement to comment on the washer and dryer. Then he wanted grampa to flip him over and over. He managed to focus on opening a present with help but couldn't find the focus to play with anything or even really play with his cousins. He didn't want to eat. He was literally running routes, like a football game...the bathroom (but not going)...Grampa for a flip...the basement for more comments on the washer and dryer...over to the computer to try to turn on the firetruck song.

Driving home that night, I felt exhausted. I didn't really think of how Ethan probably felt. The change in routine. The unspoken social expectations (you will open a present, acknowledge it with excitement, play with it later). The junk food and noise.

Instead I felt wistful, and then I felt guilty for feeling wistful. Sometimes I think the best gift I could give to Ethan is to stop expecting him, even if it's only subconsciously sometimes, to act like everyone else.

This morning I lay there in bed and my V-8 moment came when I realized I didn't even try to give him a break from it all. A sensory break, that is. That could have been what part of the basement obsession was all about. At one point he cried when we took him back upstairs. Duh. The basement is quiet. Calm. Free of clutter. He probably saw it as a safe haven. I could have spent a little time down there. We could have gone into one of the rooms down there and played a little game, and even invited the cousins down to play. Duh.

There are so many times with parenting when we just have to check our "selves" at the door, don't we? All I was thinking about was MY wants, MY needs, MY expectations. I think our kids can sense that, sometimes.

That reminds me of one of Ethan's presents, which he barely acknowledged. He got a lego toy with a firetruck/fire station. It's for ages 4 to 7. Ethan doesn't care for blocks except to build towers or bridges, and he certainly wouldn't understand the directions to build this thing. Pretend play is hard for him. Dan put the toy together Saturday night and I sat there looking at it trying to picture Ethan playing with it appropriately. This happens often. Recently my mom asked if I wanted to give away the toy food in Ethan's play kitchen to his cousins, thinking he probably wasn't going to really enjoy playing with it.

Part of me gets discouraged, but I keep hearing this voice whisper, "He's not playing with it...yet. Give him time." Yes, there are certain toys that he'll probably never enjoy, but I almost have to see my son in a couple of ways. Academically and with his gross motor/active-type play skills, he's basically three years old. But socially, creatively, he's closer to 18 months or two years old. And that's okay. So for now we will play with the firetruck lego toy by singing the firetruck song and opening the garage door and letting the truck go in and out. He got that. He liked that, for a few minutes.

I'm not going to force him, but I'm not going to give up on him, either. And I HAVE to remember what he's struggling with first, before I think of what I want him to do or not do. Why I am still telling myself this, so long after his diagnosis, I'm not sure. But I think it has a lot to do with acceptance.

Love you, little guy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes I think the best gift I could give to Ethan is to stop expecting him, even if it's only subconsciously sometimes, to act like everyone else."

yes, i so get this. the holiday could have been a downer for me too, but i decided not to let it. all the cousins around the tree opening presents and my girl still doesn't even get the idea of opening presents and she could care less. it's always overwhelming and she also needs a sensory break. be we were all together and that was gift enough.