Friday, December 31, 2010
Different but not Less...
Today, Sunday from Adventures in Extreme Parenthood is hosting a blog hop. The subject is "Different but not Less," sharing tips on managing holiday stress while parenting a child with special needs.
This year, Scott and I discussed ahead of time how we would like to try keeping holiday gatherings / expectations to a minimum. With that said, I do realize that it is easier said than done.
Both of our children were adopted as toddlers and spent their first two years in orphanages. Holidays, changes in routine, and time spent with lots of people have always been known to trigger emotional lability in both of our kiddos. There's something about these situations which sets off the kids' "unsafe" button (as in feeling unsafe), and we usually end up dealing with a great deal of fallout after the event(s). Hence, it was not too difficult to say....Hey, this year let's try to minimize the holiday expectations!
It is still hard to walk the fine line of making the holiday special for my 5 year old daughter, who sorta deserves those experiences that kids talk about when they return to school (it was bad enough that we blew through St. Nick's Day without gifts, and Jade's school friends all bounded back to school sharing their St. Nick treats! Yeah...I was totally oblivious to the St. Nick thing.) Telling her "You see, mommy and daddy are overwhelmed with all of your brother's issues" doesn't always fly! Jade IS her brother's biggest fan, and has been awesome with understanding and accommodating his needs....such as playing quietly when the ABA therapists are here, and trying to ignore him when he constantly mimics (echos) her. We do try to provide her with experiences that venture out of the "different kind of family" category from time to time, while helping her to understand that we still DO have to do some things differently.
And so...we ventured out on Christmas Eve day with some wonderfully accepting friends from our adoption group to have a superb Thai lunch and spend the afternoon at an indoor botanical garden. Jade enjoyed playing with the girls and Kai did his best to hang in there.....until about mid afternoon when he hit his "stuck point." (eg. he became a stimmy mess).
We had plans to go to church, but those quickly became derailed by the more pressing need to decrease Kai's over-stimulation. I did not care to inflict Kai's overly stimmy behaviors on unsuspecting prayerful folk on Christmas eve....even though it would be nice if people understood such things. Luckily my catholic guilt did not get the best of me, and we made the decision to just return home early.
The following couple of days went well. We DID explain to folks what things might look like (re. Kai's behaviors), and were relieved that things did not get out of hand. Luckily, we have subscribed to the attitude with family where, if something bothers you, either DEAL with it, or ASK about it. This is working out well...[most] folks are dealing and asking.
In sum, what has worked this year is FLEXIBILITY.....the ability to detach from expectations and re-envision them without judgement. Not a bad perspective to have the whole year through!
Posted by Chris P-M at 9:45 AM