Christmas is always such a bittersweet time of year for parents that have kids with autism. Do you travel, stay home, bring your own food, go to a mall, visit Santa...and what kind of present to get? The anxiety of all of it can be overwhelming, as much for the parent as the child. Sometimes I think I get too into my own head thinking about how hard it will be for Chandler. He loves Christmas trees, snow, and could care less about presents unless it is a case of pop tarts. I never gave it much thought, as we always had the same traditions in my family. My siblings and I would all pile the kids in our respective vehicles, and drive to Detroit Lakes. There would be a mountain of gifts with police caution tape around the tree. We would forgo the traditional turkey for a potluck with meatballs, cheese trays, 15 kinds of sweets, and an assortment of food that we would regret stuffing our faces with, as well as doritoes, so the kids were extra happy. It was hard for my parents to go anywhere because of my mom's MS. It has deteriorated her body to the point that she will spend her first Christmas in the nursing home this year. We were all too busy dealing with it for me to think about how it would affect Chandler. That scares me. I haven't yet explained to my kids that she isn't going home. For a number of reasons, I am no longer speaking to my father. How am I going to explain to my kids that we aren't going there for Christmas? No matter how we try to fake that Christmas will be "just as fun" because they all get to be together, things are changed forever. I have to somehow find a way to accept it, and move on. It's never easy letting go of a part of your life that was such a dear to your heart tradition.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Chandler is terrified of Scheels. Unfortunately, Scheels is a sporting goods store on a main street where I live. It is a massive, looming sporting goods store that sits just north of where I turn to go to Caribou Coffee. Today, he was quietly sitting in the bucket seat of the suburban behind me and to the right. At the stoplight, almost there. In the rearview mirror, I saw, in slow motion, the transformation of his expression. Complacent and calm to horrified, panicked....he opened his mouth and that fire alarm scream came out mixed with the beginning of meltdown noises and tears. I was in the left hand lane, with a RED RED arrow...I kept repeating "We are NOT going to Scheels. Mom wants COFFEE. COFFEE." at a volume over his screeching. His brothers in the back seat, one of them with his hands over his face, the other with eyes as wide as saucers. He began to shift the door handle furiously, and when that didn't work, down went the electric window. Yes, that's right. He was willing to climb out the window of my vehicle to escape his nightmare store that we weren't going to. I instinctively reached over to stop him, pleading with him to shut the window as the wind is sending snow into the car. I may have injured my shoulder trying to do this. GREEN ARROW. I floored it. He began to slow the panic as we passed Scheels and got further down the side blocks to a more residential looking area, rounding the corner to where Caribou sits. I ordered in the drive through, and my heart slowed down as I was waiting for my extra hot, quad shot, skim, holiday peppermint mocha with white chocolate, non fat whip, extra beans...I pointed to the sign and reiterated to him "COFFEE"...and he was smiling, and bouncing up and down in his chair, quietly repeating "coffee....coff..eee"....Was it worth it? For that first sip.....Caffeine seeping into my bloodstream....tears from my eyes...never a dull moment...