I have a confession to make.
The older I get, the less enthralled I’m becoming with Christmas.
I feel like it’s too much pressure. Find the perfect ugly Christmas sweater. Find the perfect gifts for the four White Elephant/Secret Santa gift swaps you’re committed to. Find the perfect small gifts for coworkers. Pick and choose which holiday parties you can commit yourself to.
There’s so much to get done in a finite period. I get to Christmas morning and I’m exhausted.
I swear, one of these years, I’m going to pass on all regular holiday festivities (save actual Christmas day) and instead commit myself to volunteering in my community and writing heartfelt notes to loved ones.
It’s ironic that as my parents and I have been transitioning towards Christmases with minimal gifts under the tree, Dude has gradually been gaining interest in Christmas.
When he was younger, he had zero interest in the process of birthdays and Christmases. This post and this post pretty accurately summarize Dude’s approach to gifts well into his teens. Go ahead and read them.. I can wait. (But seriously.. You should read them.)
In the past five or so years, a light switch flipped and Dude is now very into the gift opening process. My joy on Christmas is watching his joy as he participates in a way he never did before.
Which brings me to my mini-rant of the day. To any readers who may have a younger child or even a teen diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Any professional who tells you with utmost certainty and finality that your child is never ever going to do something because they haven’t done it by a certain date or age is lying to you.
As far as I know, magic gazing balls don’t exist. No one knows what their future holds. Ideally, providers who work with your child should have some kind of expertise, but they’re not God. They shouldn’t presume to know everything about your present or future kid. Yes, it’s prudent to be realistic, but it is imprudent to write off a developmentally delayed child.
Dude is constantly doing things for the first time; from being uber excited about Christmas, to requesting to go to bed, to sitting up straight for the first time ever at his first therapeutic horseback riding session, to bowling above a 100, to watching an entire football game on TV with his family, to reading.
These may seem like little things to some people, but to us, they’re everything.
I recently helped my parents with a massive project. Their basement needed to be completely cleaned out so it could be waterproofed. Unfortunately for us, that meant sorting through a mountain of old toys, games, puzzles, books, etc. that comprised Dude’s old in-home therapy program.
We came across toys that he couldn’t play with appropriately when he was 7, but he would probably easily engage with and really enjoy now.
All things in his own time.
Dude will get there when he gets there. Or he may not even get there at all. All I know is that he is constantly teaching me that our preconceived notions of timelines are a bit silly.