So, we are approaching the holidays which means my patience level has peaked. The decorations, holiday events...the anticipation...is all very overwhelming for our guy. This has meant major dis-regulation - an inability to control himself or his emotions. It is not fun for him or us. I liken it to Tetherball. You know the game where the volleyball is on a rope tied to a stationary metal pole? You hit the ball back and forth, hoping to avoid entanglement. But, someone eventually loses and the rope gets wrapped around the poll and the ball is dragged with it. My husband and I keep trying to keep our boy on track, we are bobbing the ball back and forth, but Daniel's internal make up is a bit of a mess right now and as much as we try we are having "entanglement" issues. As a result we see a different version of our sweet boy right now and it takes a lot of strength to not let it take over our lives.
The irony is that our guy really is not that impressed with Christmas once it arrives. He is excited to come down the stairs on Christmas morning, but the act of opening presents is really just an exercise for him. Once a gift is opened, he moves on to the next one. There is very little time spent appreciating or understanding what he actually receives. Yes, most kids are like this, but our kid almost seems to being playing a role he knows is expected of him. Once the packages are opened, almost feverishly, he typically goes back to playing with his old toys. It can take many days, weeks, months and we have seen in some cases, years, for our guy to actually play with an item that he receives on Christmas.
So, contrary to everything we have learned as SN parents, we did something new in the midst of this unsettlement. We defied logic (and probably some common sense) with this endeavor but we felt like our guy needed something new. And we felt like he needed it immediately. So, we took our son to a movie. I'll say that again...we took our son to see a movie that played at an actual movie theater. At the age of 5 we did this and it did not end well. The PTSD from the experience still lingers. There is nothing like spending $50 to watch a movie only to be found in the lobby 15 minutes later with a child who is kicking, scratching and yelling...all while trying to make sure your other child is safe. I must have been a sight - gathering up my very strong semi-toddler, sweating, crying ....but I was an SN mom still in the "newbie" stage. Add a little of defiance and ambition to keep things "normal" and you have all the makings of a bad scene. And, it was. I really had thought that movies were not going to be part of our family experience ever again. BUT, five years later we have a more weathered mom and dad who brought two cars, noise cancelling ear phones and sought out an older theater, thinking that the stereo surround sound would be less overwhelming. And...you know what? It was awesome. Our guy was SO excited by the experience and he lasted the entire hour and a half. My husband and I had smiles from ear to ear during and after the experience. Our son had overcome an obstacle. And we shared this experience as a family. Given that we have been in repeat mode regarding behaviors with the Christmas season now fully upon us, the movie experience really meant so much more to us. I think that the significance was not lost on our son as well. He was able to do something he sees his sister do all the time. He was able to achieve some normalcy in a world that must seem so chaotic to him. So, the Christmas spirit touched us a bit early this year...and we are very grateful.