A Quirky Update (aka Holiday Procrastination)

I should be doing Christmas shopping or decorating or baking or any number of other things on my multiple TO DO lists.

I am one of those procrastinators at Christmastime. Well, it’s more about indecision than lazy procrastination. I just have a hard time making up my mind about what to buy, do, send, decorate, cook and bake. So, I expend a lot more time and energy thinking about everything I should be doing (and when I can possibly fit in the time to get those things done), than actually doing all of those things I should be doing. After all that exhausting mental preparation, I’m too worn out to cross anything off that list I just made!

So, in the traditional holiday spirit of putting things off, here’s an update on a few things going on around here:

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Since I wrote about our new goal to exercise, I’ve been proud of our commitment to keep up with it. We’ve been hitting the track 2 or 3 times a week. Now we are at the point where we are completing 4 laps, for a total of 1 mile. We are up to jogging for half of every lap (or almost every lap), and walking the other half. Last time we went, we jogged for 3/4 of the final lap, our longest stretch yet. We’ll keep increasing that jogging time and hopefully will be able to jog for a full lap soon. I’ve been really impressed that my son is actually doing this. As long as I give him a goal – “Jog to the garbage can,” or “Keep running all the way back to our water bottles” – he’s keeping up and completing every stretch.

santa-2933399_1280This week, that commitment has derailed because he picked up a cold over the weekend. Not great timing with the impending appearance (and rapid disappearance) of holiday treats and cookies that will really need to be counter-balanced with exercise. But, we’ll get back out there soon and keep at it into the New Year.

My effort to build my own skills of stepping back and letting my son do more on his own is still very much a work-in-progress. One of the actions I’ve taken in that direction is to add in more accountability for myself. I’m going through the process to be officially “hired” as my adult son’s habilitation provider, which our state allows once a child reaches the age of 18. It will be strange to finally be paid for some of the “work” that I always do with my kid, and I’m still not sure how I feel about that. The little bit of extra income will be nice, but I’m hoping that being required by an “outside eye” to track the data on the skills I’m teaching will motivate me to push forward on giving him the skills he needs to be more independent. Even though I’m his parent, the hiring process still involves getting a background check, taking First Aid and CPR, and a few other care provider courses. Crazy that I could do all of these things as a mom-volunteer without these qualifications, huh?

photoWe haven’t decorated for Christmas or put up our tree yet. That is the plan this week, but the kid’s been home sick for two days and we’re hoping to decorate while he’s in school to reduce his stress about making changes in the house. I tried taking out a few of the toys and Christmas CDs while he was home today and his not exactly joyful reaction reaffirmed my idea that waiting until he’s at school and ultra-prepping him is still the way to go.

But the Advent calendar is working well so far, surprisingly. With the help of a ribbon pinned to “today,” my kid is decorating the tree on his own, one ornament per day, and doesn’t seem to be too bothered by it. It’s not so much “joyful anticipation” as it is just “comfortable routine,” but that’s okay.

And, I still don’t know what to get this boy for Christmas. It’s always a bit challenging to buy presents for a kid who doesn’t like change and doesn’t ask for gifts. Mostly, it’ll be fidget toys, cookies and treats, and maybe a DVD or some music.

Oh! Maybe some new running shoes! 😉

 

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Getting Out

I had two opportunities this past week to get my son out of his regular hermit-like existence and do something fun with a group. We’ve been fairly isolated for a while, but as his stress has begun to settle somewhat, I want to give him a chance to reconnect with activities that he used to really love before anxiety got the better of him.

I’m learning to find a balance between promoting these social activities and giving him a real choice whether or not to participate. I’m not going to force him to go, but I still want him to get past his automatic first “No” response and think about giving it a try. Read More

Deck the Halls

My husband and I were brought up in different decorating traditions. His mother always put up their (artificial) Christmas tree and all the decorations on Thanksgiving weekend, and within a day or two after Christmas, everything was put away. My mother’s house was usually decorated sometime in mid-December, but the (real) tree itself was not trimmed until Christmas Eve. We kept our decorations up until Epiphany on January 6th (the traditional 12 days of Christmas). Yes, we were usually the last on the block to pack it all up.

As a married couple, we gradually created our own tradition that splits the difference, decorating in early December and taking it all down around New Year’s. (The artificial vs. real tree is still up for debate).

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Regardless of the timing, we both want our house to look festive this time of year. But this can be challenging when the third member of our household really doesn’t like change. Our son used to enjoy the lights and atmosphere of Christmas, and the box of familiar holiday toys, books, music, and movies that appears along with the tinsel and ornaments. Not to mention the promise of never-ending cookies. Read More

Safe Passage, Revisited

I’ve made a new commitment to post regularly on this blog. 

It helps me to reflect on this whole “parenting a young man with autism” thing and to try to put into words what life is like around here. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfectly phrased. It just needs to be written and posted.

I know this commitment will be hard to meet some weeks. When my son is having a rough time, I don’t feel much like writing. Or I suppose it’s more that I don’t feel much like sharing. 

But I’m hoping that even when it’s been “one of those weeks,” as it has, I’ll still find a way to keep this blog active. 

Today, it’s appropriate to focus on gratitude with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, and with that, I’m grateful that I wrote this post five years ago so I can cheat a little bit and re-post it. 

A lot has changed in five years (from 13 to 18, wow, yes, there are changes), but the feelings described in this post remain true. Five years on, it’s more important than ever that we have family, friends, teachers, and others who support my son in the ways they do.  Read More