Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hell-oween success!

Since.....oh......about the time Jen was 2 years old, I've become a devout Halloween grinch.  From a parenting standpoint, Halloween has sucked.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out that stuffing an SPD kiddo into a costume and dragging them through Halloween (sensory hell) is going to amount to tantrums, meltdowns, and a whole lot of stress.  It was so bad in 2009 that Jennica was actually physically ill by Halloween night, running an anxiety-induced fever, and she and I stayed home and skipped the whole darn mess.  Even after I had spent a huge amount of time creating a really darling sensory-friendly costume on my very old and dusty sewing machine that hadn't seen the light of day since.....well.......biblical times?

So.....as late October has neared, I haven't exactly embraced it......er......with enthusiasm.  We enjoyed did the costume store......blah blah blah........and she picked out a pirate costume that she loved and I assumed she would never wear.  We explored did the pumpkin patch, after a monsoon the night before, and picked our pumpkins out of a barn filled with hay that the farm owner had assembled.  (Even rubber boots were not going to make that pumpkin field hike-able.)  And the anxiety climbed and I griped for the entire last two weeks about the coming of  "Hell-oween."

But apparently, the anxiety climbed only for me.  For today, knock on wood, was a rousing success. 

As I sit here tonight, typing in stunned silence, I feel a little silly at the extent of our preparations.  Mike and I both took the day off today.  Seriously.  So that we could both be there to support Jennica when all hell broke loose during her school party.  We showed up at the previously-scheduled, teacher-appointed time of 12:40, and Jennica came running over to give us a hug.  Someone had already helped her don her costume, and she looked cute and relaxed.  After our hugs, she went back to her desk. ???  And proceeded to sit at her desk, visit with her friends, and participate in all the party activities.  ???  And ignore us.  ???  And then came the all-school parade where the entire school full of elementary children parades through the building so everyone can view everyone else's costumes.  Surely, this would send her over the edge, right?  Wrong.  She had a blast.  And then, since I wasn't really needed, I went across the hallway and helped for awhile in Tiersten's classroom. 

Immediately after school, Mike headed to football practice, and the girls and I headed downtown with a friend and her children to trick-or-treat the downtown businesses.  This is a huge thing in our small town, and is a completely chaotic event.  When my friend chose to park at one end of the "loop" she planned to walk through town, I inwardly groaned.  While I saw the theory behind her plan, when Jennica undoubtedly collapsed at the far end of our walking loop, I was going to have a great distance to carry 50 pounds of screaming girl pirate.  But as Cassie had already unloaded her infant daughter (and I wanted to stay together with the hopes that she would keep Tiersten with her to finish trick-or-treating when Jen fell apart), I parked beside her and off we went on foot.  Much to my amazement, Jen was fantastic.  She stayed with us.  She didn't run ahead or lag behind.  She independently marched into the stores for treats, complimented other children on their costumes, laughed and smiled, never whined about being tired of walking, and enjoyed the whole dang-blasted wonderful experience.

And it wasn't over.  After trick-or-treating downtown for 90 minutes, the girls and I met Mike and the boys at home, and immediately headed back to town for dinner at the local Mexican restaurant.  Still in her pirate costume, she ate dinner and was pleasant.  Heh. 

And then we headed to the Halloween Carnival at our school.  By this point, I knew with certainty that we had pushed our luck too far.  She was tired.....(for Pete's sake, I was tired!) .....she was full of gluten-free candy.......and she had been fantastic until now.  The carnival was sure to be ugly.  It is always a sensory nightmare packed into a gymnasium the size of a cereal box. 

Almost two hours later, we left with Jennica still laughing.  She traded quarters for game tickets. She played the games.  She giggled with her sister and friends.  She had a blast. 

So.......I'm sitting here at midnight unable to sleep.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm ecstatic.  But overwhelmed.  Part of me wants to sob with relief.  Another part of me wants to laugh out loud.  And still another part of me wants to look for the other shoe about to drop.  I was approached by SO many parents and school staff today that have wonderful things to say about Jen's recent progress and the changes they are seeing.  I guess I need to let it all sink in.  It was only one day of success, but we pushed it hard.  Much harder than we have ever dared to push her before and still had it end happily. 

Its going to take a little while to have this all sink in.  Tomorrow is relatively quiet day.  And then Sunday, we will do a little trick-or-treating at family and friends' homes in the evening.  I guess we'll wait and see how that all goes?  But for the moment, I'm wondering if I'm going to have to end my reign as the Grinch of Hell-oween???

1 comment:

Lindsay & Emma Bartholomew said...

maybe I will take over as the Helloween grinch! We did our first big halloween experience this year now that Em is just about 3-can I say NEVER again?! It was rough!
I am so glad yours went well and she was so adaptable to craziness! What a big success for you guys!