Halloween Break

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Holidays are tough for Lily, and not that Halloween is a holiday in the same vein as Thanksgiving or Christmas are, but it’s an “event” and there are rules and procedures and “goings-on”.  Still, if there was a holiday for her, a holiday where she is free to move around instead of being cooped up in a house with all her relatives, Halloween would seem to be it.  But it isn’t.

I think sometimes she tricks us into thinking Halloween is going to be okay.  She’s happy enough being changed into her costume (with some caveats, of course) and she’s more than happy with candy, being prompted to say trick-or-treat, and really, most of the Halloweenie-type costumes aren’t frightening to her.  But something about walking to the next house stops her in her tracks.  The no’s start coming out, and in an effort to “get some use out of” her costume we typically attempt to soldier on to at least a couple hand-picked houses, struggling from one door to the next until her obligation is completed and she can go back home to relax and watch TV while we answer the door and give out candy.

Lily asked to be dressed as Snow White this year.  I asked her again a couple days later.  “Snow White” she replied.  Bam!  Done deal!  Because honestly, it’s usually a different answer every time we ask.  So this seemed very promising.  I started looking at costumes on Amazon.  I stalled with six slightly different Snow White costumes in my “cart” so I could ask my wife, Leslie, about sizes.  That night she told me and I resolved to finish the purchase the next day.

That morning Leslie left for work and as I waited for Lily’s bus to come pick her up, I asked one last time, “Lily, who do you want to be for Halloween?”

“Belle,” she replied.

Ugh!  I messaged Leslie when I got to work.  “She wants to be Belle now!”

“Will you please stop asking her?”

This seemed like solid advice, but the die was cast.  “It’s not a huge deal, I didn’t order the Snow White costume yet.”

“Well please just pick one and order it.”

Fine… fine… that afternoon I had six Snow White costumes and six Belle costumes in the “cart.” Each was slightly different than the others like it.  One had a different pattern on the shoulder.  One had a snow white picture like a cameo on the dress itself.  One had glitter in sparkling swirls across the front of the dress.

“Pick one,” she’d said.  I left them there and went home.  I wittled the costumes down to the “best” choice of each that night and the following day I picked one.  I picked the one that I thought looked the most like the movie character.  I picked the one that I thought seemed most “authentic”.  And then I ordered it.

Back to that in a moment.

As fun as the holidays in general are for me, as fun as Halloween specifically is for me, they’re not, and it isn’t for Lily.  And as much as I want to “encourage” that joy into her, to an extent I’m doing it for me and not for her.  Which isn’t fair to her.

Lily has a lot on her plate.  I remember scolding my mother for suggesting that we work on Lily’s base-running with her during the special needs “Challenger” baseball season.  I was probably not my usual extremely tactful self when I listed the litany of therapies and lesson plans, schedules and services that fill Lily’s already bursting schedule.  I talked about how every night I try to get her to say her prayers, and that now, after almost three years, I can sometimes get her to say them.  I talked about potty training, and shoe-tying.  I talked about navigating stairs and drawing horizontal lines.  I spoke of phone number memorization and putting on socks.  And then I ended with the kicker… “Base-running is way down my list of new goals to work on with Lily.”

But each Halloween I forget.  We try to get her out there, encourage her to the next house, use bright sunshiney voices as she howls “NO!” back at us.  And maybe we’re getting a little better about honoring that voice.  I think last year we might have gone to one house before throwing in the towel.

We will attempt again this year.  We’ll follow the tips and make it as Lily-friendly as we can, but at the end of the day, to quote myself… trick-or-treating, “is WAY down my list of new goals to work on with Lily.”  And if she struggles or rebels, I need to keep in mind exactly who it was who wanted that costume on her.  Because it wasn’t her.  Lily hasn’t been eagerly waiting to get her new costume on so that she can rush out of the house for candy.  I need to also remember that “getting use” out of a costume that she didn’t want, just so that Lily can “experience the joy of Halloween” is a really crappy argument to use when it’s very apparent that there is NO joy being experienced.

Lily’s costume arrived a couple days ago.  When we showed Lily, she seemed happy about it.  She tried it on very patiently, despite several tricky little hand maneuverings that were required of her.  I think she makes an adorable Snow White. The glitter all over every surface of our house from the pattern on the front of the dress is totally worth it.   And if the picture below represents “some use out of” her costume then so be it.

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Nooooo… don’t eat the poisoned apple!

I’m actually optimistic that Lily WILL enjoy Halloween this year.  If the weather is okay, I think there’s a decent chance I will be able to slowly walk with her to a couple houses, trick-or-treat, and return home to the comfort of familiar television shows and her regular clothes.  But this year I’ll try to remember to be quicker pushing the “abort” button.  I think she deserves a holiday break from her goals.

About the Author

Jim Walter

Jim is both a father and blogger who helps others understand his first-hand experiences in parenting a child affected by autism. Jim’s late wife, Leslie Walter, was the long-time supervisor of Family Partnership Support here at Glade Run.

Read more from Jim’s blog.

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