We knew going into the holiday season that we needed to forgo any expectations we had for what an Oakes family Christmas would look like. The typical family Christmas morning may not happen for us. Liam may not care about gifts wrapped with care and cute paper.
We were Canada bound for the first time in 2 years and we were excited to see family and get out of dodge. On top of that, Liam actually seems to do better outside of his own space. He’s a bit territorial and so a new space allows him to explore and see new things and he loves it!
It’s always a little difficult to watch Liam around other people, even if those other people are family. We feel obliged to explain Liam’s behaviour, and smooth things over when Liam ignores the very people that want to visit with him and love him.
We promised ourselves,”This is Liam’s Christmas. He will take lead. If he doesn’t want to unwrap gifts, then we won’t make him”.
Christmas morning came and in true Liam fashion; he popped from this to that to this again without much care about rituals or stockings or gifts or santa. Liam took the opportunity to sneak upstairs on his own and try to set the dog free.
We stayed true to our goal, but that didn’t make it any easier. We didn’t get to have the Santa talk. We didn’t get to hear him squeal with delight at the millions of dinosaurs he received. He didn’t want to sit on the ground with us as a family and watch Molly open her gifts.
Liam did remind us of a very important lesson. Christmas isn’t about the gifts. It’s about family. It’s about the time we get to be together. Every day is special, not because it’s Christmas or Valentines day or someone’s birthday. The love and care and special treatment that we pull together for holidays isn’t what is most important. It’s the love and respect we give to our son who is fighting through the fog that surrounds him. It’s the ground we stand when Liam doesn’t want to do his homework. It’s the discipline we enforce even when trying to tell the difference between being 2 and having autism.
Liam isn’t the only one who has to learn a new way of behaving. We do. We have to think outside of the norm for our son and that’s okay and actually beneficial. It is difficult. It’s isolating at times, but as long as he is around to remind us of what is most important, the rest of it doesn’t really matter.