Tuesday, December 14, 2010

From the Wolf Den: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. Darn it.

It's the holiday season once again, and once again I, and many other parents like me, are gnashing teeth and wringing hands over one of the most stressful times of year.

Wolf and his cohorts at CHYC love Christmas, as they love birthday, Valentine's Day, and any holiday representing the accumulation of "stuff". Children with Asperger Syndrome love stuff; cheap stuff, expensive stuff, stuff from the vending machines at Wal Mart, doesn't matter, because it's STUFF.

I remember taking Wolf to Minnesota to visit my friend D. one summer. Even at four he had a nose for gift shops and collecting things, and we brought back a few trinkets (I established a rule early on that all things from tourist traps had to fit in my backpack) and a zipper bag full of sticks. Yes, sticks. At least they were cheap.

Now that Wolf is older and the stuff seems to be exponentially more expensive, Christmas and birthdays are something else, indeed. Yukon and I are beginning a new trend for we family here at home of reducing the amount of our own stuff, so Christmas this year is more about experiences than things (as a travel writer, too, I am practicing what I preach on a daily basis to my readers). But explaining this to my stuff-happy 16 year-old is not so simple. He knows the facts about Christmas, sort of cares about the Reason for the Season, but moves on to the loot faster than Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. In this respect, he selfish, but through no fault of his own, and this is something Yukon and I struggle over. Do we try to teach compassion for Baby Jesus and the Star in the East even though we know it is almost futile? Do we hold back to try and keep Wolf involved in our family's intentions of giving more and receiving less? These are tough questions.

Wolf told us on the phone last week that his pile of presents last Christmas took up two chairs in the Common Room. Oh boy. I laid out the "quality as opposed to quantity" spiel and was immediately blown back by the forcefulness of the "WHAT???!!!" over the miles.

To many kids with AS, more is always definitely better, which worries us on many levels. But Therapist B was on the line, too, and heard this outburst of defiance for present-dom, and I believe will be working with all the boys to level out their expectations for Christmas.

Don't even get me started with the fact that Christmas break throws them all off their routines. Argh.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Maybe I'm crazy, but with his diagnosis am I wrong to feel this is a case of say your piece and then love him as he is? It's Christmas, maybe work with him on self-improvement the rest of the year and go for unconditional love this one time? Not to mention giving yourself a break in the process?

Or maybe I'm full of poo and understanding the spirit of the season is more important.

Either way he has a lot of company in wanting more more MORE for the holidays. Think of it as economic stimulus?