The other day Michael and I were baking cookies for the holidays, our usual butter cookies with sprinkles. It’s an old family butter cookie recipe that my grandmother shared with me and that I am happy to pass down to Michael. We went over the rules for “helping” me which included no continuous grabbing and sampling of each ingredient that went in (this was getting to be difficult for Michael to control), listening to my directions for which steps came next, to waiting until the final product had cooled down enough to sample after supper. It went relatively well. I felt myself losing my patience a few times as it was getting late and I was feeling tired, but I kept myself in check. It was fun baking with Michael overall as it always is at this time of year, and with the knowledge of new rules I have been applying to handle his anxiety, we both had a good experience. We also ended up giving these cookies as part of the gifts to his teachers and bus drivers. It was a nice touch as Michael had a part in the gifts this year.
This also helped me realized how important this time of year was for prioritizing the traditions of little things which mean a lot to Michael, decorating, baking, wrapping gifts, and the fact that he helped me with food and clothing articles we have given to the needy. Most important of all, slowing down in most of these activities helped bring out the kid in me, and made me realize how important living in the present moment is. It’s where children and adults can truly feel alive and experience the beauty of life together.
We have entered Michael’s final week of school before the holidays. He has more or less planned out his activities for the break. I will be discussing with him what he selected as well as what we could add to that list to do as a family or as replacements in case some of his activities don’t work out. I am glad he is organizing his thoughts around planning out for this time to be as successful and carefree as it can be. It sounds like a contradiction, but for a child with autism and anxiety, planning and fun go hand in hand and make for the most success of all.
Exceptional Parents, what memories do you and your children treasure most at this time of year? How does living in the present sometimes along with planning at other times make a difference in theirs and your well-being? You know your child best, just remember to enjoy the simple family traditions that give them and you the most joy, and to practice these in whatever way is easiest for you and your family. Until next time.