A perfect Christmas

The run up to Christmas was not particularly good behaviour wise for Oliver. All the changes affected him so we took the pressure off, no homework and talking about the changes and learning Christmas sign. School reported an increase in his running off and concentration but it was nothing unexpected. Even so we decided to learn from lessons past to make it a perfect Christmas for everyone.

We went to carols and crib service on Christmas Eve and we decided to tag team it. Max and Popples love carols by candlelight but Oliver thinks it’s more fun to sit on the bishops chair or run up and down the narthex pointing at the safety notices. So me and dad decided to take it in turns to stay with him, swapping after every carol so it was less stressful and everyone got to take part- in their own way. We also now know every safety sign and exit in the church-bonus!

After church we came home to a drink, chocolate bar and the opening of the eve present, which is new pyjamas. Oliver even joined in by putting them on for ten minutes before changing into his usual pyjamas and Owlette costume. We left sherry and mince pies out for “farmer Christmas” and a carrot for the reindeer then they went to bed. Well, they went upstairs and messed about for two hours whilst we tried to build the playmobil and other things before the big day. It’s surprising how many times a four year old needs a wee in the space of thirty minutes. I think we got to bed about 2.

They were up at 8 the next morning, we had to rouse a grumpy Max but he cheered up when he saw a box of Maltesers sticking out of his stocking. This year Olly opened everything. Within an hour. No three day opening this year, his little fingers scrabbled at the sellotape and his face when he saw he’d got what he asked for was priceless. He asked for an owlette teddy from pj masks, Popples had asked for a fingerling and Max had asked for some very specific videos. Santa delivered. They all seemed really happy – a win for us this year.

Christmas dinner was beef wellington, chicken or festive Bolognese- it’s like normal bolognese but you get to pull a cracker and wear a festive hat. The boys decided that a full family dinner (mum, daughter, son in law and granddaughter) was too much so they ate in front of the tv watching a Christmas film. Then came in for pudding.

They stayed up later than usual, playing nicely and colouring then running around and squealing. Eating what they wanted and they even got a fizzy drink! Eventually went to bed, and to sleep. And I got a “merry Christmas” off everyone at bed time. That was one of the best gifts that day.

This Christmas there were no meltdowns, no fights and no expectations. Not much money either but the kids were happy and relaxed and we were more so too. We adapted so everyone got to do something they wanted at Christmas. We prepared for the worst case scenario and as a result I think we took pressure of ourselves as we had contingency plans and we knew that we were on the same page and what job each of us had in every scenario. We had a perfect family Christmas. Anyone looking in would probably not think so but they don’t count, they’re not us.

Hoping your Christmas was the best it good be

XX

Advent, Autism and a grey hair

It seems that once Halloween and Bonfire night are finished that Christmas starts. When I was little it started at advent, not the first week in November. School routine changed, carols were being practiced, decorations up in the shops along with the Christmas music that I’m now fed up of listening too. Oliver did not cope well. He’s excited but doesn’t know how to channel it so we’ve had some regression and some behaviour issues. Hitting out at me and his TA and even the teacher when he tried to get involved without using the strategies. Sleep disappeared pretty much altogether, no concentration and needing lots of rough and tumble play.

Of course all children get excited around Christmas, Popples behaviour has changed and she’s got very loud. We can mainly channel her or get her to talk but Oliver threw his emotion cards at me and burst into tears. So we’ve been very calm, cut right back on learning and therapy so there’s no pressure on him. He’s used the nurture room and library at school to have some Christmas free space. We put the tree up on the first and he seemed to settle a bit having a focal point. No flashing lights, no tinsel (it itches). He tried to open all his windows in his calendar (no chance, sunshine) we know he knows how it works. He did at one point open my number 24 then pointed to his and said “24. Open. Yes” showing me that as mine was opened it was only fair his was opened too. I shouldn’t have got playmobil calendars.

He’s collected all the interesting tags off presents from under the tree so I suspect that may cause some chaos on Christmas morning. He’s done his list “owlette teddy yes please” which he’s been asking for since mid November. Santa came to school with a reindeer and the little ones went to see him together and had a cute photo done. My boys have never been scared of Santa. Max used to laugh and stroke his beard. Oliver goes straight to his knee and gazes like he’s his hero. Popples has never been keen. Last year she said “I don’t want him in my house. Ask him to knock on the door and give presents to daddy”. Really freaked out at the thought of him coming in. We watched a programme today where someone left Santa some milk. Her comment was “milk! He’s not a baby. Where’s the sherry?” We are not alcoholics, by the way, but we always left sherry for Santa.

Over this advent we’ve had to take turns going to church as Olly just can’t handle it. It’s a shame because it’s always nice in church at advent. I did Christingle service with Popples. Olly has broken things, decorated to ceiling a bit more with various food items, scissors are now hidden, emptied toy boxes, ripped up papers and we lost two baubles. He also found the eggs. We’ve tried hiding them because we know he’s a cracker, but he always seems to find them. Hubby walked into the kitchen and “can you clean the floor whilst I do the wall and door?” He’d done it again. Only 2 this time and helpfully put the shells in the bin. I was kneeling on the floor scooping up egg when I felt a drop on my head. Yep. Egg. He’d thrown it at the ceiling and I should have looked up first. I know better than to go to the floor without checking above! I’m not a rookie. I blame tiredness. So egg mopped up and went to sponge the egg out of my hair until I got five mins to wash it. And I found my first grey hair. I’ve been going redder as I age which happened to my dad too, so thought I’d get away for another few years before the grey. Sadly not. Oliver has succeeded in ageing me. Well played, Olly, well played.

At least with a family like ours there’s no pressure to have a perfect Hollywood Christmas. We’ve tidied, bought the boys favourite foods and made their rooms suitable for quiet times complete with sequin swipe cushions that they love using and actually seem to calm them. Oliver is having Bolognese for his Christmas lunch, Max may have fish and waffles if he doesn’t want chicken, Oliver took 3 days to open gifts last year, Popples will be up and down all night Christmas Eve and me and their dad will smile through it all, play the games, and hopefully watch three children celebrate Christmas their way and be happy. It may not be Hollywood perfect but you know what? We think it’s perfect. It’s a hard time of year and very testing but dad is trying so hard. He’s stayed calm. There’s been no shouting. There’s been lots of guidance given and accepted. Oliver doesn’t automatically turn to me for help or comfort now. He will go to dad. Small steps but they give me hope.

Anyway however you all do Christmas I hope it’s as perfect as ours will be. Have a very blessed Christmas.

Xx

The Nativity Play

Our school still do a nativity in the EYFS. It’s not the traditional story as such, last year it was a wiggly nativity, this year it was about how they got the swaddling for Baby Jesus. All the traditional elements are there, though, and I really look forward to it. Oliver was lead donkey when he was there, Popples was an angel last year and this year she got chosen to be a narrator. My really shy daughter would have to speak in front of all these parents. I was a tad concerned.

We practiced her lines and she picked them up well. We explained how she would have to say them in front of lots of people but that her teachers would be there to help. I thought she’d bottle it, she doesn’t like people looking at her, so how would she cope with 100 people looking at her?

She was amazing. She didn’t need prompting. She was loud and clear and not an ounce of shyness. Have to admit I got a lump in my throat. So proud of her.

The star that was supposed to show the wise men where to go refused to go on stage. One of the lambs couldn’t see his mummy so leapt into the arms of a staff member crying. A soldier got on stage saw his mummy and changed his line to “I want to go home now”. 2 angels were swapping headbands (halo’s) throughout. It was brilliant! These kids are 3-5 so for them to do as well as they do, remembering lines and all the songs is astounding!

The rest of the school do a carol concert/Christmas story at church which we missed due to a SLT appointment ☹️ but we got the nativity which made it feel like Christmas. And I won the raffle!!

Xx