Counting down. One more day till the end of Christmas break. Bittersweet, it is.
On one hand, the children return to school and those vacation days are over. On the other, it’s back to the routine. I’d like to say I spent the week off baking and communing with the three still at home, but we didn’t. It’s a different kind of family when the kids have autism; we set alternate milestones.
Our holidays have been a whirl of activity since mid-November, when my daughter came in from her environmental education gig in Nevada. We put the tree up early, had company in, company out through the Thanksgiving period, and again through Christmas as my daughter in culinary school and her partner came to stay (and do their laundry). The children had their school field trips and celebrations, a total disruption of routine, just like the home life. While you and I might find this a delightful break in the usual, the children with autism find it a painful disruption of everything they know. My son can bury himself in cartoons to escape, hardly noticing when you pass or speak to him. My daughter takes it harder and has to find a quiet place alone, often outside, even in the snow, just to regain some peace.
But there are bright spots, too. The girl child, 8 years old, finally understood the purpose of a list for Santa; she enjoyed picking out and giving presents to please others. It was she, with her obsession for detail, who helped her father unstring the Christmas lights and replace the broken bulbs. The boy child has turned twelve, and we see him gradually (OH so gradually) learning about respect and responsibility for others. After years of therapy, watching them blossom into individuals who just may be able to take care of themselves someday is a gift no guy in a red suit could ever get you.
So back to the routine. And maybe that’s a gift, too. It’s all in the perspective.