Monday, November 01, 2010

Bless This Year

"Never harm
Nor spell nor charm" - William Shakespeare

We bless this year for all we learned,
for all that we loved and lost...

Nothing is ever easy or simple in the lives of those affected by SPD. Even fun things like Halloween can pose challenges you've never dreamed of. Now that S is somewhat over his SPD tactile defensiveness, I was curious to see how he would respond to gutting a pumpkin - he still won't touch the goop. "It's yucky", he said. I, on the other hand, rather like squishing it, though the coldness turns my fingers white and stiff.

S wanted to make a cat pumpkin in honor of our amazing cat whom we deeply miss. Represent! It's Samhain, after all, time to celebrate the lives of those who have crossed over.

Our giant bird silhouettes were a huge hit (top photo) with the neighborhood kids, especially the gang that plays in our home and is familiar with all the birds nests that don our mantel and S's nature shelf.

A witches broom on the door to honor our soul sisters of the 1600s who suffered a horrific fate at the hands of ignorance and hysteria. Again, Represent!

I hid a boombox under a pile of leaves so that when the children approached our cauldron full of candy, they would be serenaded by the soulful sisters of Rising Appalachia - "Sandy Boys" on continuous loop, flickering paper lanterns lining our walk, and pumpkins aglow.

S seemed to tolerate the Halloween costume a bit better this year, though he did want to take it off several times. I said nonchalantly, "Costumes are what Halloween is all about, they're not always comfortable, but we just deal with it". So, he dealt with it. He seemed to enjoy all the compliments he received on our homemade Anglerfish masks, his favorite fish.

There were a few scary trick-or-treaters that sent S running behind a tree terrified. I asked one to remove his mask for a moment to remind S that it was just a costume. These scary costumes did not seem to bother any of his chums though.

It brought back memories of when he was 2 years old...we were at the bookstore for story time and someone was there dressed as a puppy. The sight of the giant humanoid pup sent S into a face first, duck n' cover, dive to the floor in terror. It was heartbreaking to see all the tots running over to hug the puppy character, while my son was trying to become one with carpet - petrified. I felt so badly for him.

While most kids grab their sugary loot and run, each time S approached a door, he would cautiously take one piece of candy. If there was an assortment, he took extra time to choose. Several times our neighbors encouraged him to take more than one piece. It was hard to keep up with his friends.

We kept trailing behind because S wanted to stop on the sidewalk and look at all his candy more closely. We reminded him that he could look at them afterward in the house when he would have more light. S was hoping to receive some gum. He's been obsessing about gum as he's never had it. Now that he's gotten past his SPD oral defensiveness, his brain is seeking this input. He's chewing on his sleeves, straws etc. S seems to have a subtle way of helping us help him. Like when he became fixated on a vibrating toothbrush. We bought it for him, and as it turned out it was the perfect input for his sensory diet. So, I'm thinking we should buy him some gum.

Once home, he emptied his pumpkin pail on the dining room floor and began organizing his loot. He had a difficult time deciding which piece he would eat that moment, which pieces he would keep, and which pieces he would give to the sugar fairy in exchange for a small toy. He giggled excitedly and said, "I'm rich of candy!"

Little does he know how sweet he is, and how rich my life is because of him.

Bless this year for all that we learned...

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posted by Wendy at 5:37 AM


Blogger denise said...


My sensory guy said we were NOT carving pumpkins this year because he just couldn't even stand the idea of the smell, the goop, the seeds, the cold skin, the sound of the carving blade going saw saw saw saw saw. So, we skipped it. Did webs and spiders at our door instead! :)

1:56 PM  
Blogger Cheryn said...

sweet, lovely words.

my little naia similarly insisted on the candy inspection after EACH home..."mama, wanna see what i got?" then desperately trying to find that exact piece that was just dropped in amongst a huge bag full. took two blocks for her to finally tire of. !!

a great sugar free gum to try- we love it -
b-fresh bubble gum -
they have it at vitamin shoppes or of course can order online.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Dear Anonymous,

I will respect your wishes not to have your comment published, but I would like the opportunity to respond.

I can't speak for how or why other people celebrate this quirky holiday. I can only tell you that we celebrate Halloween in our own way. In my family, it is a celebration of imagination, a chance to make costumes and pretend to be something we've dreamed up. It is a celebration of Summer's end, the last harvest and a time to remember the lives of those we've loved. I don't know how to respond to your "appeasing the dead" stuff that you mentioned in your comment because that is not my something I'm unfamiliar with. The dead ones that once graced my life, need no appeasing, but I believe their lives are worth celebrating at every opportunity. My late grandparents Irma and Walt were married on Halloween/Samhain and thus it has special significance in my family.

My husband and I gave careful thought as to how we would approach this and other holidays - to celebrate them in a way that feels right to our family.

We refuse to hang scary decorations or create scary costumes because we feel it's disrespectful to the children. However, our son wants to participate in this holiday, and therefore we do what we can to keep it fun and respectful while making it more meaningful.

The witches broom on our door was not to scare, and I assure you it did not. It is (for me) a reminder of those who were accused of being witches and lost their lives due to ignorance, fear, and hysteria. Mostly women who were nothing more than widows, independent land owners, free thinkers a/o early feminists. The subtle representation of my innocent sisters feels right to my feminist self. Satch does not know how I feel about the broom, he just thinks it's cool. I don't want his loving precious heart to learn of such atrocities so soon. One day, though he will likely learn about it in school, and it is then that I will explain why I hang a broom on the door during Halloween.

Satch insisted on buying a pumpkin for our beloved cat that just passed away. We are following Satchel's lead in celebrating our own way - in honoring those we have loved and lost.

The cauldron too, was Satchel's idea and he's used to make his "potions" until it was time to fill it with candy.

I assure you that no one was frightened at the sight of our home. The bird silhouettes were a hit not a not a horror - the children loved them. The music swirling the air as the children approached was beautiful, festive and happy - it felt right on many deep levels. The mood that graced our doorstep was one of joyous not scary.

Our son had a wonderful time despite the sensation of wearing a costume - despite the encounter with the scary masked kid.

Indeed, he has SPD, but it is not an illness - on the contrary it is a gift, albeit a challenging one for all involved. It is a heightened sensitivity, an awareness that I wish I could bottle in small doses and sprinkle on others to restore some balance to the world.

When I wrote this diary entry, I should have made it more clear that my son wants to celebrate this holiday, and he was not forced to participate - and that I am doing my best to help my son celebrate it in a way that feels right to our family, while not offending others.

Thank you again for your gentle reminder. I appreciate the way you honor your daughter's fears without judgment. I respect you for not participating in Halloween/Samhain because it doesn't feel right for your family.

With love and gratitude,

11:27 AM  
Blogger Jessica Monte said...

Next year, I am so making my way over to your house! Like yours, our family puts a lot of energy into our Halloween. It is my favorite holiday! I'm glad that you got out to trick or treat with S and that he enjoyed being "rich with candy." Your post is so sweet, Wendy. It makes my heart smile and it makes me return to my own love for my children. Thank you for that.

2:53 PM  

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