I have seen so many memes and jokes about the supposed ‘if you’re naughty you won’t get any presents’ threat. But let’s face it, nobody means it. I don’t know a single parent who has actually cancelled Christmas. Frankly it unrealistic to expect a child to behave 100% of the time for a whole month so you’re setting yourself up.
This is especially true in December. There is so much going on and a lot of changes happening. Children have parties with lots of sugar so are extra bouncy, late nights as there’s various events to go to, decorations everywhere meaning things look different, threats of an man who is going to come into your house, excitement of waiting for presents. What child is going to be cool and calm during all this?
I have joked that J has been a bit of a Grinch this month. He hasn’t wanted to decorate the house, hasn’t wanted to help make Christmas crafts or baking really (although he did add the snowman to our biscuits). He hasn’t got excited about santa as frankly he’s 3 and doesn’t really know who that is yet.
I am happy to say that we have finally got a Christmas tree. After weeks of J hating every attempt at decorating the house (crying when I put lights up, shouting at the star on the wall) I got a tree and put it together with a friend (for back up). J tried to hit the tree and was not happy. So I decided to try another tactic. I said the tree was Mummy and Daddy’s tree, not J’s. I said Mummy would decorate it and play with it, not J. He was ok with this. He played with his own toys as I decorated it, and briefly looked at it afterwards reemphasising ‘Mummy’s tree’.
But I have a tree, yey 🎄
As well as the decoration dilemma there has been an increase in meltdowns outside the house. We have had lots of ‘here and there’ mornings were I’m finishing last bits of shopping, collecting parcels etc. It has meant lots of getting in and out the car, and going into busy shops with Christmas music, more decorations and obviously toys that J can’t touch pretty much everywhere.
It’s meant there’s lots of unpredictability and sensory input.
So when we popped into a shop yesterday to get some last stocking fillers J had already been to pick up a package and had to go past shelves of toys (despite me using distractions he was still finding this all a challenge). Thankfully I kept J in the trolley else we wouldn’t have made it around the shop. By the time we got to the till J was wanting to get out of the trolley and was trying to get close to watch the buttons and conveyor belt.
I was encouraging him to stop and sit down. The cashier (and I’m sure she meant to be ‘friendly’) started to lean towards J and say ‘oh santa won’t come if you’re naughty’ and ‘do you want santa to come?’ etc. It was a lot of words, very quickly and a lot of triggers. So I gently said that he wasn’t being naughty. He was overwhelmed by all the changes. I said that we don’t talk about santa coming to the house as it worries him. I then said “he is Autistic” and suddenly the whole conversation changed. She became sympathetic and asked me questions e.g.: did it take long to get him diagnosed? It must be hard for him etc.
I’ve heard other parents and bloggers saying they’ve had comments such as “you’re too old to behave like that”, “you need a smacked bottom”, “you won’t get any presents of you keep shouting”. Forums are full of comments like these.
I know people aren’t being nasty but what right do they to make comments. Maybe we don’t celebrate Christmas? Maybe we don’t believe santa only comes to ‘good children’? If you don’t know the child or the family then why comment on a child’s behaviour and what will happen to them? Again, I know it isnt malicious but it is frustrating.
It’s nice that there’s more understanding and interested in Autism. However, it shouldn’t take for my child to have additional needs to be mindful that this is a stressful and emotional time for all children.
So for anyone who sees a child acting out or being a bit OTT, give the family a smile, give them space, give them understanding. To all of those with children struggling with Christmas…only a few days to go!