Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Here in Australia, it coincides with the summer holidays, which means six long weeks off school during December and January. We love these holidays, and nobody could accuse our family of lacking in Christmas spirit.
For Charlie, the holidays must be a bit confusing. The older children are home all day, every day. There’s no preschool for her, and no therapies until school goes back. Throw in the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and she hardly knows which way is up.
We see a lot of family and friends at this time of year. Some of these people haven’t see Charlie for months, and all want to chat about how she’s going.
We have the same conversation over and over again: “Yes, she’s well. No, she’s not walking yet but she steps well if you support her. No, she’s not talking either, but she vocalises a lot more these days. No school yet, no, but she’s loving her preschool and has a lot of friends there. No, she doesn’t crawl. Yes, she understands a lot. She knows some signs – let me show you a few,” and so on and so forth.
This can be quite exhausting, but we wouldn’t change it for the world. I love that there are so many people who care about us, and about Charlie. We’re very lucky.
There are late nights and early mornings, loads of video gaming hours, family day trips, swimming and boating, and too much fierce tropical sun. At the risk of sounding like I’m complaining about paradise, there are days where all I want is to close the curtains, crank up the air conditioning, send the kids to school, and pretend that it’s winter.
Charlie’s usually well-controlled diet goes completely out the window when well-meaning friends and relatives pop ‘little treats’ into her mouth, or share their morning bacon (nooooo!!!) sandwiches with her.
She, of course, loves all of this and laps it up. It’s only later, when we get home and want nothing more than to lie on the sofa with a mindless animated film on the telly, that the effects of all this craziness hit Charlie.
Our pleasant, happy, gorgeous little princess screams and cries and scratches at her face, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do to calm her – we just take turns being with her until it sputters to a stop, thankfully within an hour on most occasions.
Just when I think my sleep deficit has reached irretrievable levels, the final week of the long holiday is upon us. Michael has gone back to work, and the remaining time will be spent – along with a considerable amount of money – in buying stationery and fitting uniforms, organising bus schedules and cleaning schoolbags.
We will spring clean the children’s bedrooms, finally find a place to put all of the new toys and books they got for Christmas, and clear desks ready for homework.
I will buy ‘lunchbox foods’ again, and sports bottles will fill the freezer.
On 27th January, by 9.30am, my house will be gloriously, blissfully, quietly empty. I will make a cup of tea and relish the silence.
By 10am, I’ll probably be missing them.
Does your child have an autism diagnosis?