Today was the last day of Ash’s 2011-2012 winter break, and it ended with a non-whimpery bang. Well, assuming that he doesn’t end up with a snow day tomorrow, anyway, it’ll have been the last day — but we’re reallyreallyreally hoping that’s not an issue because he reallyreallyreally is looking forward to school being open again. Eniways…
I have to say, this had to have been one of his favorite days of the whole vacation, and that’s pretty impressive considering Christmas fell in there. And yes, I know that I still have to finish writing about that. ENIways…
The goodness started from the get-go. Ash woke up at 7-something in the morning (naturally), called for us, and then, wonder of wonders, did something we’ve been trying to get him to do for ages….which was to announce that he had to go to the bathroom (not that we were sticklers for the announcement part) and then actually do so, instead of waiting in his bedroom for us to come in and suggest that he go, in the meantime having a potty accident through his Pull-Up and into his bedding that he might or might not have barely held off through the night until that point.
So after that exciting success, we got him dressed and agreed that, yes, he could go downstairs now.
Unknown to him, his “UncleMonkey” and “AuntieTora” had arrived after his bedtime last night, driving around 14 hours round trip to visit us for only around 17 hours (“And not nearly enough of them asleep,” Steffan adds with a touch of guilt)….because they are awesome like that. There is much love shared by the five of us. And….and most of you will understand what this means….I have to tell you, it’s quite something to see someone ELSE looking at your kid with such obvious love. In any event, Ash went through a few seconds of shock / expectations-for-day-reset / processing, and then got the equivalent of a drug hit, except it’s all giddiness-laced adrenaline. Or, possibly, the other way around. And, really, we weren’t feeling it much less than he was, if at all, we’re just sliiiiiightly better at the self-restraint of it. That, and we actually register fatigue more than once every few weeks.
Good feelings were fed, literally, when Daddy agreed to make him pancakes (plain, no toppings) for breakfast. That was preceded and followed by more love and fun and silliness in general. There was a lot of shrieking laughter, flying around, utterly failed attempts at looking innocent, hiding under blankets, hug piles, and so on and so forth and something else entirely again….and it wasn’t even all on Ash’s part. Somewhere in there were a few calmer moments, too, I’ll grant you. At one point he nicely sat down and read aloud another chapter of The Wizard of Oz, a nice (albeit condensed for children….but hey, it was in perfect shape and we found it at the thrift store for a quarter) copy of which was one of our Christmas presents for him. (And next weekend, when he does his version of the we-want-parents-to-force-their-kids-to-read-for-ten-minutes-a-night-so-we’re-going-to-give-them-homework-asking-them-five-super-basic-questions-just-to-confirm-they-at-least-looked-at-the-cover-of-a-40-word-book homework, we’ll have him type his sentences about this book, which maybe, just maybe, will help them remember that they are supposed to be on the same page as us when it comes to skill-leveling-up his English curriculum.) Oh, and breakfast-itself excitement didn’t even end with the pancakes, either. Grandpa’s cookies, which had been delivered along with Christmas presents, had included gingerbread men. These were actual gingerbread men, as opposed to the intentionally-overcooked sugar cookie “gingerbread men” that Ash was already fond of. Ash had decided he wanted to try one — this was the day before — but only after he had finished off the stash of his Daddy’s snickerdoodles….and after his Daddy had already taken the last of Grandpa’s gingerbread men with him to work in his lunch. Well, thankfully, Uncle A- still had a large stash of the gingerbread men, and was happy to share with his nephew. Daddy had gone to get them the night before, so on Monday morning, after eating all of his pancakes and drinking his orange juice, Ash got to have one of those, too. As it turned out, Ash found that he liked them. He was also inspired, for the first time, to try dunking his cookies in milk. Whoa! That’s a big deal, on the texture-tolerance front!
After Ash had eaten and more or less immediately burned off what he’d eaten, he got to open the presents that they had brought him. Previously, we’d inherited a Wii from “UncleMonkey”, but as we hadn’t yet acquired anything for it specifically with Ash in mind, it hadn’t gotten much use. That was about to change, big time. They got him Just Dance Kids 1 & 2. Oh sure, I had to explain to him what the things were, and relate them to the Dance Dance Revolution game that’s made special guest appearances in gym class at school. Once things were set up and we got him started, though… Heeheehee. He’s still figuring things out, but man oh man, is this going to be fun. Bear in mind this is a kid who had a few famous Irish Stepdance productions completely memorized and would try to dance along with them on a daily basis between the ages of 2 and 4 or so. Oh yes, this will be all kinds of fun. Good-for-him fun, too. Oh, it’s not that he’s short on exercise….not MY child, who, as I wrote once before, resembles in his activity the potential result of a pogo stick and a pinball machine having a baby that was then raised by singing monkeys. It’s just that this kind of activity is also PT for him, with a little OT thrown in on the motor planning front. Totally worth having small-child-friendly songs stuck in your head for several hours after watching your kid try to mimic an elaborate version of the Chicken Dance several times in a row.
NOTE: One of Ash’s wishes during the bedtime routine on Monday, was that he could, “Dance to the Wii,” after his “3 Steps” on Tuesday after school. He did so. The pattern repeated on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Unfortunately, our guests would have to head back home as close to midday as they of course failed to leave us, so soon enough it was time to get ready for lunch. Ash’s favorite pizza buffet place? Check. Getaways made after Ash was weighed down by three slices of cheese pizza, two garlic-bread-sticks and a bowl of lettuce, were….well, they were still sad, but, thankfully, we had more smiles still in store for the day. In the wake of our dear ones’ departure, we stopped home just long enough to assess how Ash was doing, and then made our way to the zoo.
The zoo has a small aquarium area. Despite Ash’s attachment to furry things, he still finds the fish pretty exciting. Sometimes, we go to the pet store at the mall just so he can look at the fish tanks. They entrance him. Yes, some day, when we have our own place, and that place has a good place to put a tank, we’ll have one of our own for him.
Fish might not seem that exciting to look at, relative to some other denizens of the zoo. Ducks might not seem that way, either. Nevertheless, Ash is thrilled by duck ponds. Bonus points are given for anything about the ducks that he can read.
Of course, it’s not that keeping pace with a snow leopard ISN’T all sorts of fun.
Before we left the zoo, we happened to run into R- and her family — which was a pleasant surprise — and were able to pick up a new zoo member t-shirt, for the new year, for Ash. He always wants to wear his member t-shirt when we go, so it certainly won’t hurt to have a second one to include in the spare changes we always bring with us.
When we got home, I had waiting for me in my InBox an inquiry about a play-date, from a boy that was in Ash’s summer class. By God, the day was still going better than entirely well! With buoyant hearts Ash and I headed upstairs to give him a warm bath, while Steffan braved the outdoors again so he could pick up some fries (“flavored” and curly ones this time, not the usual plain, “line”-shaped ones) that Ash had requested for part of dinner. Bath-time was also a thing of extra anticipation, this day, for Ash was going to try out the color-fizz tablets that had been a gift from Emily Elf, for the first time.
While Ash was in his ocean-colored bath, we discussed what manner of tail each of us would have, if we were mer-folk. Ash decided that if he was a merboy, his tail would have sparkly-green scales. If I was a mermaid, my tail would have shiny-rainbow scales. If Daddy was a merman, his tail would have pearly-pink scales. Pearly pink scales….really?! (It’s not that we’re gender-typing, it’s just that Daddy….and Mommy too, for that matter….kind of hates pink.) Well, Daddy later got him to agree that perhaps it would be ok if he had shiny-green-and-silver scales on his tail, instead.
After the bath (and shower, and getting dried, dressed and blow-dried….and by golly, he’s actually adjusted to getting his hair blow-dried, now!), Ash read me another chapter of The Wizard of Oz. This proved interesting, because instead of simply reading it aloud as he was reading the words, as he usually does, he quite clearly scanned each page quickly with his eyes over a second or two, and then recited the text, with only a few small deviations that reflected the language processing issues in his head. Ok then.
Following that, we watched a Zaboomafoo episode together. Following THAT, we had a period of pretend-play with his “Christmas Characters” — a collection fleshed out this year — during which they all got named for the first time.
The penguin, from last year, is named Joe. The new elf is named Em, and is the brother of Emily Elf, who….*cough*….made our matching family pajamas, and kept sneaking presents for Ash over here, when she’d come to check on his status for Santa’s lists. The new reindeer which is obviously Rudolph, is named Rudolph. Duh. (No, Ash hasn’t learned to say that yet — thank goodness.) The green bear, from last year, is named Rim. The polar bear, from two years ago, is named Co. The snowman in the hat, from last year, is Frosty (of course). The reindeer in the Santa hat, from last year, is Blitzen — who, Ash would like to point out, is Santa’s 8th reindeer. Santa, who is new, hardly needs introduction. The gingerbread man, who is also new, is named Mil. Yes, of course I checked the spelling of all these names.
The teddy bear with a heart on its chest also got named — named Teddy, as it happens — which I’m glad about, since it felt a bit silly that he’d named someone else’s new bear, but not his own. It turns out that Ash had been delaying playing with it because he thought there might be a button under the heart that made noise, and he was waiting until he remembered to ask me about it, so that it would not surprise him. That’s pretty smart, considering that when a toy DOES make noise unexpectedly, it scares the bejeebers out of him, and it takes him quite some time to work through that on a sensory-defensive front, even when he WANTS to play with the toy and hear the sounds it makes. Now, I got Ash this teddy bear because the other month he was reading a poem in one of his old Highlights magazines, about a boy who has so many stuffed animals on his bed that he runs out of room for himself, and he commented to me that he had all the same kinds of stuffed animals that the boy did, except for not having a teddy bear. Where was HIS teddy bear, he wanted to know. Ash’s Pooh bear, which used to be his Daddy’s, doesn’t count. That’s POOH. The realistic-ish brown bear cub that had been in “Santa’s” gift bag last year doesn’t count both because it sort of looks like a real bear, not a teddy bear, and because the pattern, fabric, and degree of stuffing made it remarkably un-huggable. The just-named Rim doesn’t count, because he’s lumped in with the “Christmas Characters” by having been a gift from his Grandma that was amidst them, last year. All right, fine. I got lucky and found Teddy….who is oh-so-soft….at the thrift store, for a buck. He was in perfect condition, not yet even possessed of that you-know-it-when-you-sniff-it thrift store smell. It seems his potential had been overlooked because at some point someone decided to either start dressing him, or start undressing him, and hadn’t finished. He sat there on a shelf with nothing on but a pair of ill-fitting black mesh stockings, looking for all the world like a closet transvestite caught changing on the way to a club by his mother. Once you removed the stockings, though, he was self-confidently adorable.
In the process of the imagination play, I also snuck in a lesson on phone etiquette. Even if you’re just making a phone with your hand and pretending to get a phone call, it’s important, after you are ready to be done and say goodbye, to listen and give the other person a chance to say goodbye — or whatever else they need to say, first — too, before you hang up. We’ll see if it sticks this time.
Steffan returned bearing french fries, which lead to yet another social skills lesson/review….this one on request etiquette. That is, although they sound like they are almost the same, “Daddy, would you make me the french fries, please?” is more polite than, “Daddy. Make me french fries! Please.” Also, while yes, it is important to stop and look at someone when you ask them to do something for you, it is also important to continue looking at them after you have made your request, until they have had a chance to reply. Even if you are sure that they are going to agree, it is still rude to take it for granted, and turn around and run away as soon as you are done talking. Yes, even if you are thanking them as you are running away.
With Ash, who always aims to be polite, this lead to sorry hugs. THAT lead to a new decree: From now on, when he asks if he can receive or give a hug, he should try to remember to specify whether he needs it to be a gentle hug or a big, squeezey hug. If he hasn’t remembered to tell us, we will try to remember to ask. That way, he’ll get the kind of hug his body needs, and not a kind that will hurt him, at that time. Sometimes the person he is hugging might need a different kind of hug than he does, and then they will have to think of something else or try to do an in-betweeny hug. Most times, though, just telling people what he needs will help a lot.
A new library book that Daddy picked up on the way home, filled the rest of the time until dinner was ready. Ash happily shared the seasoned curly fries with us, and let us know that he hoped to have more the next night. He also pointed out that the calender on the wall needed to be turned over from the December page to the January page. I told him that the calender didn’t have any pages past December, and that I would need to get a new calender for the new year that was starting with January; I did not have one yet, though, and the only new calender was the animal one that his great-grandma had sent him, which I wanted him to be able to keep with his books so he could still look at it easily. He told me he’d share his calender with us, and that I could put it on the wall if I wanted to, until I got a new one too. Aww.
The night finished with a fabulous bedtime. One highlight was Aurora joining the dragon honor guard on the battlements of Ash’s castle bed (the as-yet-unnamed-red-dragon had done so a few nights before). This was pretty notable, since it means Ash has completely gotten over his fear that she might roar unexpectedly, without ANYONE touching her. Ash also decided to add Teddy and Patchwork (a handmade gift from his “AuntieTora” a couple of years ago) to PrinceRibbit and Fafnir inside his bed. Last but not least, he hummed along with me when I sang him his lullaby. Awwww, so sweet.
Right now the most frequently requested lullaby is still the most recent version of Castle on a Cloud, which goes like this:
I have a castle on a cloud
I like to go there in my sleep
Aren’t any rooms where I can’t sneak
Not in my castle on a cloud
There is a room that’s full of toys
There are a hundred boys and girls
Nobody shouts or talks too loud
Not in my castle on a cloud
There is a lady I call Mommy
She holds me close, and dotes upon me
She’s nice to see, and she’s soft to touch
And she says, “My Prince, I love you very much!”*
I know a place where no one’s scared
I know a place where no one fights
Nightmares at all are not allowed
Not in my castle on a cloud
*The end of this line is usually whispered directly into his ear, or accompanied by lots of kisses all over his face, or delivered with silly vocals, or something of the like.