Friday, December 23, 2011

Extra-Special Holidays

One of the great joys of being a parent is rediscovering the holidays through the eyes of your children.  Somehow, in spite of the hustle and bustle, it is fun to create our own family traditions while passing down those that were part of my childhood.

I also find that the holidays are kind of the great equalizer.  At this time of year, there really aren't many differences between parenting S and K.  They are both excited, they are both enthusiastic, they are both overwhelmed.  I think that a lot of parents with extra-special kids realize that the holidays are fertile grounds for sensory overload and total meltdowns.  K doesn't tend to meltdown, thank goodness, but she does get overloaded - both in her sensory system and her auditory system.

It's important to find ways to help both of my kids cope when they are overloaded.  Fortunately, time helps with that.  The older they get, the better they are able to handle it.  Still, I try to make sure we have ample quiet time and opportunities to unwind.  Spending an extra few minutes reading together is a worthwhile investment of time, even if it does mean staying up later than planned.  I also really limit their tv and computer time (yep, I just earned my membership in the Mean Mommy Club).  Not only does this help reduce the over-stimulation, but it forces them to engage in more playtime together and believe me, they can get really creative in that time.  This year, I've been the audience for countless dance shows and fashion shows!  I've especially enjoyed listening to them sing along with Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift.  Typically, one is the "announcer" and it's funny, Taylor Swift (K) always seems to be the opening act for Selena Gomez (S)!  They've been signing autographs, too.  I don't have the heart to tell them it's probably a form of plagiarism.  Although these shows are active, it's a different kind of stimuli that seems to be easier on them.

Although S is in on the secret of Santa, she has played along with K to keep the magic alive.  The wish lists for Christmas were a crack up to me.  S wants a hamster (not gonna happen!) and K wants pixie dust - so she can fly inside the house and outside too.  GAH!  K made a list of presents she wants to give that included pjs for our neighbors down the street and clothes for some other neighbors (both of which received cookies instead), a watch for the priest at church (maybe she wants him to keep track of the time during his sermons?) and "china food" for her Chinese grandparents.  I love her generous heart, but neither of the girls seems to have a firm understanding of the many children in our community in need.  We are working on that, little by little.  We have enjoyed delivering food baskets to families in our town.

These are the moments that make our "extra-special" Christmas memories!  I hope that you have the chance to make lots of extra-special memories of your own with your family and friends, both near and far.  If you have an extra-special child, I sincerely wish for you a holiday season free from meltdowns and filled with all the special gifts that our extra-special kids bring to our lives.

By the way, Santa did manage to find Pixie Dust...with a note attached informing the recipient that it only works when you are in Neverland.  Hopefully, Santa will pass the test and remain in good standing with K!

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