Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deck the Halls

We broke five ornaments; one was fixable, only one of the remaining four had sentimental value.  It was a good day of tree trimming.  (For the record, two of the shatterings were mine)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ADHD Holiday Help

My friend Lisamarie is attending graduate school at a university that holds regular seminars to help people with AD/HD manage everyday challenges; they have talked about varying issues, such as studying, sleeping issues, and most recently coping with the holidays. She sent me this link to a website that hosts a number of articles about coping with AD/HD during the holidays. If you have a little person or a grown person in your life who suffers from difficulties with attention, add these articles to your holiday "to do" list. I devoured them and found them very useful.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hope for a Greener Planet

Duncan:  "Mama, can you pack one of our napkins in my lunch?"

Me:  "Why?"

Duncan:  "Because at school we only have paper napkins, and they are wrecking the planet."

Bless him.  I love these tiny pieces of proof that the way we are living our life is having a meaningful effect on my child.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Secret Agent Man

Recently, I read somewhere that children with active imaginations tend to be very bright. This is good news as I was informed this morning that my son is a secret agent, and he parks his ghost car under our basement.

Friday, December 3, 2010

You Get What You Get: A Parable in Three Acts

Act I:
When Duncan was three, I picked him up from daycare on his last day before summer vacation. It was unseasonably warm, and the teachers were herding the children outside with a cache of popsicles. Since Duncan was obviously excited, I sat down so he could stay and enjoy his popsicle. As the children lined up to receive their icy treats, one of the teachers reminded them "You get what you get so don't get upset." I've since figured out that this might be a common mantra among those who deal with the under 5 set, but I had never heard it before. Over the next several weeks, it came up a few times in our house. Sometimes, Duncan whined about something, and I replied "You get what you get so don't get upset." Sometimes, an adult harmlessly complained, and Duncan chimed in with his reminder. For a few nights, it was a fun bath game. We took turns:  one of us stated our disappointment while the other reminded us to be thankful for what we had. "Aw. I wanted chocolate ice cream, but I got this broccoli."  "You get what you get so don't get upset."
Act II:
Last Christmas, I worked extra hard to be Martha Stewart. Well, I would never really want to BE Martha, but you know. Everywhere you look, television, magazines, and movies tell you that that's what you should be, what you should want. I was racing around trying to finish shopping, wrapping, baking, and decorating while simultaneously trying to provide memorable holiday experiences for my child. We cut down a tree, went to a tree festival, baked cookies together, and wrote a letter to Santa. Sometimes, it was fun, and sometimes it was disappointing. I had ideas of what constituted a memorable Christmas, but they didn't necessarily match Duncan's definition of a good time. On Christmas Eve, we let him open a few gifts from us so that he wouldn't be too overwhelmed on Christmas morning. My little bookworm opened his first package, a book by one of his favorite authors, and exclaimed with obvious disappointment, "A BOOK?!!!," while he tossed the gift across the floor. It was an uncomfortable moment, but we all pulled it together and enjoyed the rest of Christmas eve and Christmas morning.
(It is a good time to mention that Duncan is usually charming and well mannered but had a bad case of the terrible 3's. In addition, he was on his way to being expelled from preschool. As it turns out, he is well on his way to an AD/HD diagnosis, having missed the pediatrician's criteria by one question on the parent surveys. He is easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli and has an attention span of approximately one nanosecond.)
The next day we went to my parents' house for Christmas. With two children and six adults and a crowded living room full of gifts, Duncan wasn't interested opening anything. He shut down. He opened a few gifts and then glazed over. We tried to engage him in his gifts, but he would have none of it. Finally, Jamie took Duncan into the next room, where it was quieter, and they played with various construction toys while everyone else opened presents. Slowly, over the course of the day (and maybe into the next day if I remember correctly), Duncan opened the rest of his gifts, with no audience and little fanfare. I was heartbroken. I didn't know what was wrong with my child, but all I wanted was for him to have a happy Christmas. I felt like a terrible mother because my child was so distraught about Christmas and a terrible daughter because I couldn't give my parents the enjoyment of watching their grandchild open Christmas presents. It was a difficult couple of days. 
As we were driving home, it hit me, like the proverbial ton of bricks. You get what you get so don't get upset. I didn't have the picture perfect Christmas, but we had some good times. I couldn't make it work for the grandparents, but Duncan was not unhappy. Once he was removed from the noise, and the people, and the "stuff" that left him feeling so overwhelmed, he actually played happily. He had a good time, and isn't that what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown? It was Christmas, and he was happy. That was more than enough.
Act III:
The tendency to Martha-ize Christmas is strong in me. I LIKE the baking and the projects and the shopping and making crafts with Duncan and watching his eyes light up when he watches a video from Santa. I continue to build expectations of what the holiday SHOULD be, but I am working hard to fight them. I realize that I can't craft the perfect holiday moment any more than I can make a 4 year old sit still when there is ice cream in the room. As we pitch ourselves forward, full throttle, into the holiday season, I need to live in the moment. When the good ones happen, like today when we watched Duncan's personalized video from Santa, I have to burn them into my memory. When he's not excited about something I expected him to enjoy, I have to let it go and move on. The holiday is not about my expectations. It's about enjoying family time. Duncan is who he is, and we love him. You get what you get so don't get upset; all that matters is for me to hold him, and love him, and thank the world for bringing this perfect comet of energy into my life.