Great Expectations

For a lot of people the Holidays suck.  I see folks in my office that are more depressed than usual.  Family can be a big disappointment and stressor.  People have an ideal in their head that can't be met, either because they can't control the people who would make it possible, or their ideal is too perfect.  Their ideal is too idealized.  Which, I guess if you can't control people, would make your ideal too perfect.  So that's redundant.

When you have a child with a difference, the bar for ideal is lowered.

It is not just that you can't put up that awesome train track that runs around the ceiling.  You can't put up a Christmas tree, because your child eats/breaks the ornaments.  And bites the lights off the light strand (true story.)

Christmas gifts are a challenge.  Either your child has this very exact idea of presents ($250 for a Lego set, I think not!  You want the components to build a real submarine?)  Or your nonverbal child is a challenge to buy for.  And, of course, his birthday falls in the same month as Christmas.

Schedules are all screwed up.  You have no idea of what this means unless your child just cannot tolerate change.  My kids are pretty good with it up to a point.  But I actually read about a child who has to go into therapy every December.  On the other hand, I wish Nathan was high enough functioning to benefit from therapy.  Ironic thought.

Family is all screwed up.  I mean family = screw up.  I know that.  And anytime family is expected to get together in loving-kindness that is the synonym for nuclear disaster.  That's what nuclear family means, right? 

But going to someone's house?  With 2 unsecured doors.  A pond and a creek nearby.  Knick knacks everywhere?  That means that one person is dedicated to monitoring the child. 

At.  All.  Times. 

In our family that means us parents.  The only people who acknowledge that need are unable to keep up with him.  And that is FUCKING STRESSFUL.  And, for us, seeing family means staying at a hotel.  When our kids are already on edge.  AWEsome.

It is also the season of giving.  Unwelcome advice.  "Should you be letting him eat that?  I heard sugar can make kids more hyper."  Really.  So why the hell did you leave it out?  He has absolutely NO impulse control.  And I'm supposed to be the sugar police?  If you thought it was important, why did you need to make it? 


But mostly it's that ideal.  Another of those things that remind you what you don't have.  What your kid doesn't do.

Those things that you always imagined doing with your kid.  First day of school (not the same when your kid is 3 and just aged out of EI and into school and doesn't talk.)  Playing sports.  First  dance.  First kiss (Will that ever happen?) 

And Christmas.  The thought that you would wrap presents and then have a few "ew underwear" and more "WOW!  That's terrific!"  That giving a bike would be neato, not a skill that he doesn't have yet.  Or a means to escape faster than you can run.  That you would share the excitement of how you remember Christmas. 

And, it's gone.  It never was.  Just like the expectations of what you would do with your child through the years.  You may dream different dreams now.  But there is always that twist of loss.  I love my kids and wouldn't give them back or trade them in.  But I miss that little ideal that never was.

And the guilt that you grieve the child you never had.

Ah...the guilt. 


  1. Just keep 'em all alive is pretty much my goal. And anyone who gives me advice will probably not try it again. I'm just a bundle of good tidings!!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Keeping it together


An Open Letter to the Psychologist Who denied my Son's Hours