Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Happier End to the Magic Season

The one thing more difficult than taking down the holiday decorations, is telling poor Nicholas that it's time to do it.

As you know, Nicholas is the lover of all things shiny and bright. He loves lights that glow and fireplaces that burn. He appreciates the feasting and family-time associated with these special events. He likes to string lights, sing carols and place candles that flicker in the windows. My merry little man enjoys anything and everything that defines the holiday season.

He is alot like Father Christmas.

 I, on the other hand, am the heavy.

I am the mean one.

I am the ender of fun and festivity.

I am the dreaded announcer, the awful one who must finally declare the ending to the magic season.

In previous years, I waited for the right time to remove our Christmas decor, usually while Nicholas was distracted and playing quietly in the living room.  I would tip toe from room to room, pulling down lights and ribbons and bows. I would place the holiday paraphernalia in big boxes and  climb silently up to the attic to secretly store them away, praying that Nicholas would not hear me.
This year however, it's different.
Nicholas is on to me.
He remembers the fun and good tidings of Christmas's past. Only now he remembers exactly who it was... who put an end to it all.
So, this year he is ready for me. He is well aware of my Grinch-like tendencies, my ability to fully embrace the role of Christmas killjoy and he is not letting me out of his sight. He knows all too well what his mother is capable of when he is distracted by the likes of a Nickelodeon cartoon.
I need a new strategy.
Lately, with Nicholas, I have come to discover that it is more important to present him with a list of possibilities instead of a list of negatives. It is more important to begin a sentence with
"I have an idea."
instead of...
"It's time to go...."it's time to stop" or in this case..."it's time to take down the tree"
So, in true PWS Mom fashion, I begin our discussion sounding something like this,
"Nicholas, you need some more room to play with your Umi car."
"I do?" he asked.
"You do!" I answered.
"Let's move the Christmas tree outside so your Umi car can ride all over."
"We have to take down the tree?" he asked knowing it was just a question of time until Mummy Dearest reared her ugly head.
 Tears began to fill his eyes.
"Oh no," I said, "we can just move it. And how about this? I have an idea!"
"What's that?" he asked, curious to hear another of his mother's zany proposals.
"How about we put the little table tree right here on a small table in front of the window? That way the big ole tree is not in the way and you will have so much more room to play with the Umi car? What do you think?"
"Yeah," he said enthusiastically. "That's a good idea."
I am astounded by his reply but make a valiant effort not to show it on my face.
"Yes, you definitely need more room to play." I say trying once again to reinforce the positive.
"You're right," he answered nodding his head in full agreement.
I am amazed at Nick's compliance and add this new "positive idea planting technique" to my growing repertoire of PWS tools.
 We take down the tree with nary a fuss. Of course, as we begin the process to un-decorate the tree, I am careful to remind him often of how great it will be to have more room and look how the needles keep falling on the floor, it is time for our friend the tree to return to the forest.
Nicholas seems pleased with this happy idea and I breathe a little easier knowing I no longer need to clean the house incognito.