Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

You probably don’t remember, but it’s been three years since my Destructo has come to visit you at the mall.  He just turned six last month.  It was his little sister Jellybean’s first time meeting you.

When I told you Destructo was autistic and had a speech delay but if you ask him something enough times he might respond, you smiled and opened your arms to him.  You also weren’t phased about me warning you that his little sister was so very, very two years old.

Destructo had woken up at 4:30 that morning and crashed during the twenty minute drive to the mall.  He was a little subdued and I was worried he could melt down at any time from being so exhausted, but I only mentioned he was up early.

I asked if we could take our own photos, and the photographer said as long as we bought a photo package we could.  I then asked her what the cheapest package was.  But when I started to ask my husband if we could spare it, you chimed in and said that we didn’t need to buy a package. 

We were hopeful we could just snap photos with our camera as Destructo and Jellybean ambled about, and if we were lucky, we’d get a few good ones.  Somewhere during this time Destructo leapt into my lap and wrapped himself around me with all the strength of his nearly fifty pounds behind him, laying his head on my shoulder—his way of letting me know he was anxious.

Managing to peel him off of me, I brought him over to you.  I had to lead Destructo in conversation.  You offered your knee, Destructo had an adamant “No!” to that.  I quickly suggested sitting next to you, patting the green velvet cushion next to you, and you obliged by making more room.  Destructo hopped right up.

Destructo was tired, so he wasn’t spontaneously speaking.  It sounds a silly thing to be exhausted at ten in the morning, but it’s per the norm for an autism household.  Autism parents make lots of jokes about the amount of coffee they drink.

But Santa, you didn’t ask anything of Destructo.  When I had to help him ask for the toys I knew he wanted, and he repeated me, you treated his echoed words like his own.  I’ve never been so happy to be ignored, and I was able to move out of the way.

My little man stayed with you without making a dash for Mommy.  Jellybean encircled the area, looking for ways to get in trouble, and I had to get some of the gift props out of her hands since she was trying to unwrap them. 

I found myself sitting on the floor at the entrance to the Santa space; a reflexive reaction because it was the only way my kids could get in or out.  This way, they could have some space and I could make sure they were contained.

Santa.  You engaged my son so much that I did not realize until later that I was able to give my son some freedom.  I talked “shop” with one of your elves and was impressed she could speak the language of special needs.  I even got to brag that we were able to drop a few therapy sessions from Destructo’s IEP this year because he is doing so well. 

During all of this, as my husband snapped photos, you offered lollipops to both Destructo and Jellybean, though Jellybean still refused to sit on your lap she had no qualms about climbing up to get at your lollipop stash.  The lollipops made them both very happy.  I didn’t have time to mention it, but I was also very pleased to see non-candy treats, because Santa, we are an allergy family too.  The lollipops weren’t an issue for my little ones, fortunately.

Dear Santa, our visit with you was extraordinary in that it was ordinary.  There was no screaming.  No meltdowns.  No one attempting to run away.  Just a happy boy and girl with lollipops.  At the end of our fifteen minutes, you gave both my husband and I each a hug, which neither of us expected.

Thank you for giving us a memorable visit.  We even got some beautiful photographs.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 


High Functioning Mommy and Destructo Daddy