And suddenly it’s November 1st. The kids have been up and asking questions since 5 a.m. because, you know, Daylight Savings Time (All those people thrilled to “gain” an hour at the end of Daylight Savings Time, probably didn’t get to enjoy an extra pre-dawn hour of kids playing loudly and asking about Halloween candy every five minutes). Still, I'm glad to be to November!
The good news, I guess, is that I am learning to roll with the punches after a very hairy month of October. It started in late September, actually, when Ren was suddenly hospitalized for a week. He’s okay now: meaning, he’s out of the hospital. The less-than-good news is that the ongoing health issues related primarily to the spine problems are really no closer to being resolved. To say it’s frustrating doesn’t even come close conveying how our lives are impacted by all of this, and since I haven’t figured out a way to put a positive spin on it, most times I choose not to write anything (one reason for some extended silences—sorry!).
Six days after Ren came out of the hospital, I left for a 10-day trip to Japan. I love going to Japan and taking students on field excursions and meeting with folks at our exchange partners, and it IS getting easier for Ren to manage the kids while I am away. Still, ten days is a long time to single parent. And, with the added variables of bad back, food allergies, and sensory issues, ten days can seem like eternity.
|Sky carving his first pumpkin.|
Into this mix came Halloween. Halloween has traditionally been the beginning of the behavioral downhill slide that leads to the new year. Kids with sensory processing and social skills issues don’t handle change in routine well, and nothing kills routine like Halloween, birthday, Thanksgiving, birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s at 2-week (or less) intervals. I’ve come to dread Halloween and what it represents in terms of the falling-apartness of our lives.
Besides the disruption to routine, there are also the food allergies. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are not terribly conducive for kids who are gluten, dairy, nut, and everything else free, and the end result tends to be a lot more cooking/food buying by me. This year, for example, for class Halloween parties, I sent separate bags of allergy-friendly candy to each class so none of the kids felt left out. I don't mind doing this, but the logistics can be hard as I have to communicate with each teacher in advance, buy enough of the right kinds of candy, and get it to each school and classroom on time. I also have to remind each teacher that each kid has his/her own candy AND, in the case of Stow anyway, go to the class during the party to make sure that all of the other parents have some of his candy to give especially to him.
Halloween also offers the added challenge of costumes--costumes that go on bodies that may or may not be able to handle the extra sensory input or the uncertainty of so many people not looking like themselves. Last year, Sky had a very public meltdown about the fact that he’d forgotten the gloves to his costume, and when he ran back to the house to look for them, he was too panicked to be able to find them. Worse, the rest of the group (which consisted of about every kid in the neighborhood) had continued trick-or-treating without him, and he was a) too nervous to go to the houses he’d missed alone, and b) unwilling to miss those houses. That year, he had to quit after three houses. Two years ago, I paid $30+ for a cardboard Minecraft head and pixelated sword only to have Sky refuse to wear all of it, and when I saw him at the school Halloween parade (which I’d left work early and parked about a mile away and walked to see), he skulked behind his classmates with his hands jammed into his pockets and his eyes to the ground. Halloween can be really hard, you guys.
This year, miraculously, everyone wore their costumes and made it all the way up and down the street before agreeing that they had gotten more than enough candy. Sure, there were hiccups. Even though I explained that we could do a candy swap once we were home, for example, Stow had a hard time not announcing to every house that, “We can’t eat that. We’re allergic to peanuts and chocolate!” And, he struggled a lot with impulse control once he had a bucket-full of candy. All things considered, though, this year went MUCH better than any year previous.
|Personal victory: I managed to put two buns into Pink's hair making her look like a pretty convincing Princess Leia (I mean, if you don't count the fact she's wearing cowgirl boots).|
In other words, October turned out okay. The hospitalization, the trip to Japan, and even Halloween, everything went fine. Maybe this is a sign that the rest of the November-December gauntlet will be okay, too. I don’t know, but I’m working on chilling out and accepting that some parts of our life probably aren’t going to get any easier but other parts may well surprise me and be amazing.