This year Brian trick or treated for a grand total of 20 minutes. Not the worst year, not the best either. During those entire 20 minutes he kept pointing back to home while whimpering. Once he got home he stripped his costume off with lightning speed and hunkered down on the couch.
Brian loved his costume this year. It was evidenced by the smiles I got in the photographs I took and the fact that he participated in his school’s Halloween Parade without a single tear (finally!). But no matter how much he loves a costume, he just isn’t going to tolerate wearing it for long or tolerate a weird holiday that is so out of his routine it’s insane.
It made me think that maybe we need to just take a step back and not participate in Trick or Treating. Why do I push him so much to participate in things that aren’t really that important in the grand scheme of things?
I was so excited to see the soccer sign-up sheets come home in Brian’s backpack during the fall of his Kindergarten year. Corbin had been participating in sports since he was in preschool and I had it in my mind that Brian was going to join in once he started public school.
I was convinced that I was going to show everyone that autism wasn’t going to hold Brian back. That with accomodations and patience he would be able to participate in everything his typical peers did. The coaches were great and so welcoming and really patient.
About two games in to the season I snapped this picture of him standing at one end of the field all by himself while the game was in full action at the other end of the field. He was completely unaware of the other kids, the ball, or what was going on. He was enjoying the sun, the grass, and being outside. Don’t get me wrong, most Kindergartners aren’t stellar soccer players or paying attention half the time they are meant to be. But this was different. This was him not buying into this team sport at all. Not really enjoying the idea of it. Not even really knowing why we were at the soccer field. And really checking out to be comfortable in his own world.
That was my first moment of stepping back and asking myself, “Am I doing this for him? Or am I doing this for me?”
I would never sign Corbin up for a sports team or an after-school club without asking him if it was something he was interested in. Why was I doing it to Brian?
I think life in general is going to bring me moments like this when it comes to Brian. When I need to reevaluate the situation and really be honest with myself. I need to know why I’m asking him to participate in situations, what the outcome is that I’m hoping for, and what skills this will bring to the table that Brian can carry over into other settings of his life. Or am I asking him to do something just because it’s some sort of expectation I made for my child back when he was an infant, imagining all the steps through life we would take together…back before I knew our life would be on a very different path.
I need to ask myself if it is something that makes Brian happy, because quite honestly my number one goal is for Brian to be happy. Sure, I want him to be independent, be successful, and reach his utmost potential. But for me, being happy is the true measurement of being successful.
Is not trick-or-treating going to be the end of the world? Am I pushing this holiday tradition for my benefit or for Brian’s? If I’m honest with myself, it’s for me and my need to hang on to that normalcy I crave. It might make me a little sad for it to end but honestly, it might make Brian the happiest of boys.