It is the time of year where I start thinking about making memories with my family and celebrating milestones and special events. Tomorrow, we plan on making our yearly trip apple picking which Monkey is a huge fan of because it involves dragging her in a wagon while eating apples to her heart’s content. While she doesn’t take part in the picking (despite the forced photo op that I try and complete every year) we still do it. We go to a lovely little orchard with dwarf apple trees and a small little playground for Monkey to play in afterwards. Every time we go, I see other families with children running up and down the rows of trees picking apples and placing them in buckets and every year, I hope that Monkey wants to participate and do the same. We try and get her out of the wagon to walk and pick apples, and she will generally do it once or twice then demand to sit back into the wagon and wheeled around. In order to keep the peace while out and public and avoid a meltdown, we just give in. We fully realize that others might look at Monkey and think she is too big to be wheeled around, but it is a small adjustment we make to try and make some family memories.
There are lots of events that happen at this time of year: Thanksgiving, Halloween, Monkey’s birthday, and Christmas all fall in the next 3 months and I start thinking about milestones and memories. Monkey can’t answer a question like “what do you want to be for Halloween?”, so we take a guess based on her interests in things like tv shows or books. She likes to pretend she is a pirate, so this year that is what it will be I think, but I don’t really know. I still try and make an effort to make sure she is involved in activities that typical kids her age would be – but it is hard to go through effort every time and have Monkey seem indifferent to it. I know if course, that this is just Autism, but it doesn’t make it any less painful or frustrating.
Monkey doesn’t really understand the concept of birthdays or presents yet. You could give her a pile of wrapped gifts, and she doesn’t really know what to do with them – she loves playing with toys of course – she just needs to be shown how they work. But, having her open presents and have a look of amazement of what Santa has brought on Christmas morning – she doesn’t have these reactions. We have tried reading books, watching cartoons, or even using our birthdays as examples of what to do – but she loses interest and moves on quickly.
Does that mean I won’t plan a 4th birthday party, or make a cake, or wrap gifts from Santa, or take her trick-or-treating? While that might be the easy way out making memories and celebrating milestones is incredibly important to me. I am holding out hope that maybe one day she will get it and be interested in these activities – but until then I know that I am making memories and spending time together because it’s fun. And for now, that is enough.