Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Advent Season

December is here, our favorite month of the year.

Thanksgiving came and went. We had 5 full days off together, a welcome break for all of us, but it went quickly and I can't exactly say we were rested afterward.

 But it was fun.

JT'S brother and family came in town to visit, and we spent 2 nights, courtesy of JT's parents, at the Floridays resort in Orlando.

We had Thanksgiving dinner by the pool, and my parents were able to join us.

The next day, we spent the day at Typhoon Lagoon water park. It was the first time we have gone to a water park with our family and it was a definite hit. It was a bit colder than I would have preferred, and after teeth chattering and shivering in the lazy river, lying limp in my arms and appearing to be patiently awaiting the sweet release of death, I put Greystoke in dry clothes and kept him out of the water for good.

Aquaman was, predictibly, initially outspokenly freezing and upset about the whole thing...especially our experience on the lazy river in which we passed under much too shady trees and got sprayed with ice cold fountains.

But he quickly recovered after bundling up in his Lego hoodie and hanging out by the wave pool with me,

and then heading down some thrilling waterslides with JT.
The Dude was just stoked about the whole thing. He went down the kid-sized lazy river, while his grandmother watched, probably 900 times. His lips stayed blue, and his smile stayed big.
As much as The Dude can really wear me out with his boundless impulsivity and quick flaring temper, his ability to right-side up within a few minutes is something I am coming to really appreciate.

We came back to the hotel to take a quick breather before we planned to return to the park where JT and his brother and friends would be surfing in the privately rented wave pool, but alas it wasn't to be. The traffic was horrendous and it took forever to get back, and then I didn't have the energy to fight the exhausted and warring brothers back into the car almost as soon as we got there, and all by myself. So we stayed. We ate dinner in our room and then jumped back and forth between the hot tub and the pool and probably had a better time than if we had stayed, shivering by the wave pool all night.

The kids had a great trip with their cousins. Aquaman even got to spend one night in Aunt J's room, and I even got my toenails painted by my sister-in-law for the first time in like 7-8 years. JT swears he has never seen them painted, but I think he just has no recollection of our pre-child years back when I used to have 5 minutes to use the bathroom by myself.
The Dude got a clear coat on his toenails, and spent the rest of the evening worrying about chips.
And today, my sister K is on her way into town. The Dude asked me 37 times last night and the night before when Aunt K would be here. He informed me, quite piously, that he likes Aunt K more than her presents.

Then wondered if I thought she might be bringing him some walkie talkies.

Aquaman is going through some hard times right now, and I've been hurting for him. He has always had so many strong feelings, so much to deal with for one so small, and he has always struggled to manage it, but lately his struggles have been more ragged.

 He is so sensitive to everything that sometimes he can't seem to stand it. Reading makes him dizzy, so does "the light being half on or half off...I need it to be either on or off.". The gentle motion of the lazy river made him feel sick. Vacations are hard for him. He longs for excitement and stimulation and frequently wanders the house declaring "I'm bored", but when placed in an unfamiliar environment he struggles to catch his breath. When we returned and he got out his legos, I asked him if it felt good to be home, and he said "I am still just trying to figure out where I am."
His memory is ridiculous and his ideas of the way things should be are rigid. A change in plans means that everyone around him is a liar. He is desperate for predictibility.
I hurt for him because I know all of those feelings, and yet I also know the freedom of letting go. Being a mother to him is such a balance between figuring out when to let go and let him go through it, and when to step in and help when he is truly stuck
He seems stuck right now. So I am helping him, and asking God to help him also.
As I was looking up specific ways to do so, I stumbled accidentally upon an article called "The misunderstood face of giftedness", and when I read these paragraphs I almost cried:

"Many gifted kids experience the world with heightened and vivid intensities and sensitivities that may be a big plus but also can be a big minus (subjecting them to sometimes overwhelming emotions and worrisome and unacceptable behaviors).
Normal giftedness can be easily confused with a diagnosable mental disorder. Gifted kids may talk a lot, have high levels of energy, and be impulsive or inattentive or distractible in some settings -- similar to symptoms of ADHD. It's not unusual for gifted kids to struggle socially, have meltdowns over minor issues, or have unusual all-consuming interests."

I feel like I have looked in books for someone to describe my child for years, and I finally got a description. Not that it helps all that much, but there is something reassuring about being able to categorize his quirkiness under a positive label.

I don't want him to be like other people, want him to be just the way God made him to be. I just want him to be comfortable in his own skin.
The calendar is filled out and the plans are made. Christmas crafts, baking, activities, hayrides, wagon walks with hot chocolate, and more cheesy movies than we can stomach. I love this time of year.
Greystoke and I drove out to Viera and met my parents (we were supposed to meet sister C and her family, but well, she ended up at the beginning of the parade route and we ended up at the end) for the Christmas parade on Saturday night. His eyes were as big as they were last year. He is at a fun age for Christmas. He is approving of the new Christmas tree (though Aquaman scoffed at its small size....they keep getting more expensive!), and thrilled with the brightly lit neighbors' houses.

He is developing quite an independent streak, and can even throw a pretty adorable tantrum when something doesn't go his way. He is 19 months old today.
We are doing the Jesus Storybook Bible advent this year, and have read our first few stories under the tree, though admittedly, The Dude does a lot of chattering, and occasionally loses a Lego man in the tree branches.
At night we are reading another Advent story, Jotham's Journey.
The Christmas music is going full blast, even though it is going to be 84 degrees today.
Greystoke and I are dropping off the older boys at school and going to a petting zoo with some friends this morning before we do our weekly grocery shopping. I usually use this school time to get laundry done or run errands, so I am excited to take some time to do something fun with the little guy.

One more run through of our sight word cards, 3 sets of teeth brushed, [some of the] cereal cleaned off the floor.

 And we're off to enjoy December.

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