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Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Makes Happy?

What makes a holiday like Halloween happy for you? Is it the joy in your child's smile? The excitement of planning the costumes? The festivities on Halloween night? The countless parades and pumpkin patch visits before the big day? The wild parties? Is it all of the above? Please, do tell! Comment!

This year what made my Halloween happy was simple-- very little! We visited only one pumpkin patch. We did not go to any parades. We went to one party, but with only our middle child. We decorated our house and carved a couple of pumpkins. For us, there was no drama. We read Halloween books, and as my middle boy said "we spooked up" each room. And I was grateful for the peace.

Halloween for sensitive kids is traditionally a BAD idea that we can't avoid. Take a sensitive, hyperactive kid and pour sugar, chocolate, and food coloring down his throat, then take him out in a scratchy, itchy costume with kids running around screaming, loud, scary noises, lights, costumes. Massive stimulation time! Expect a giant tantrum at the end...could last weeks.

BUT 7 years of experience can go a long way (if you check my face, you would guess 15 years experience). This year my stomach wasn't as tight as before with worry that my sensitive child would: 1) Get lost in the darkness. 2) Run into someone's home and break all of their china. 3) Get hit by a car.

I also didn't dread the sugar overdose like I have in the past (although T did throw up in the street after eating who knows how many pieces of candy.)

Happiness for me is recognizing progress-- remembering where we have come from.

I also didn't feel excluded like I have in recent years. T recently made a couple of new friends who welcomed us to join their trick-or-treating group. They have moms who know about T's challenges-- they appear to enjoy his energy and enthusiasm and they treat him like any other kid. I have learned that the parents and teachers are the ones who I need to first accept T, and then the children will model and follow-- it takes work, attention, and time to show kids how to be inclusive. To get them to reach out...But that is another post!

The biggest hiccup we had on Halloween was ME. Before trick-or-treating, I suddenly became all prickly about getting everyone ready, about my husband coming home later than expected, about feeding everyone healthy meals before the candy started. About being on time to meet Thomas's new friends (what if they left without him?) I couldn't find my costume and there were no umbrellas.

Earlier I read about a mom of sensory kids who prepares for Halloween with a wagon, drinks, food, flashlights, and so much more. I was impressed. And then there was me-- barely able to find my own rain jacket as I crammed bean burritos into my kids' mouths.

When my husband Lynn arrived, T was fighting in the car with his brother over the one small umbrella we managed to find. My daughter was screaming. I glared at Lynn because he forgot to buy umbrellas and was late.

I was hardly counting my blessings. I was feeling strangled by my lack of control. I was missing the gift...T and all of the kids had a calm, good day, up to this point! We were all together.

Minutes later out in the fresh air, I saw the light in T's blue eyes when he greeted his new friends. I saw my precocious little girl stumbling up stairs in her white tiger outfit, scolding anyone who called her a zebra, snatching pieces of candy and saying "trick-or-treat, happy halloween, thank you" all together. I saw my middle, usually quiet boy with a smile bigger than his head, darting around like he had a fire under his feet.

I hugged Lynn and even though I was soaking wet, I didn't need an umbrella. This was worth it. Many parents were standing around, or walking with ease, drinking wine and martinis and socializing (is Marin the only place where parents drink while trick-or-treating?)...they appeared to feel care-free. I tried not to envy them. That world still seems far away... I carefully tracked each child. We had come far to get to this night.

My boy and his struggles, our family's struggles, made clear the blessings of a rainy night-- a friend or two who welcomed him-- a community that connected to all of my kids, even if only for an hour-- laughter. All three little lives, smiling and feeling loved. That made me happy. Thank God!

It was a happy Halloween!


Maggie Landes said...

That is beautiful, Amy! I get caught up in the small stuff, too, and then remind myself to be so grateful because this time in my life is really good. The important things are in place. Sounds like a imperfectly perfect night!

Challengermama said...

Thanks so much for reading Maggie:) It is good to know that someone relates!

Goes On Runs said...

halloween can be SO overwhelming....and you handled it with such grace. you did a good job catching yourself...... i need to do that more. :)

grateful for grace said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Amy! You are a gifted writer and a blessed individual! :) So glad you are recognizing more and more the little bits of progress... glimpses of heaven on earth and the way it will ALWAYS be someday! Love to you!

Challengermama said...

Thank YOU for listening:)

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