Changing What A Christmas Present Is For My Special Needs Kid
Christmas presents are hard. Any present that we get Little Man is really hard. Every year it gets more difficult to buy him things that he will show any interest in... Or that is appropriate for him to play with at his developmental age.
We have piles and piles of toys laying around the house for him to play with. There is a toy organizer that has books, blocks, light up toys, pop up toys, ride on toys... every toy you can imagine, we probably have one.
Unfortunately, Little Man gives no &*@#! about toys. We'll wake him up in the mornings and lead him over to the boxes of shiny new toys and he walks away to bounce repeatedly on the furniture and hum to himself. If I (gently) force him to play with a toy, I can sometimes get 20-25 minutes of (constantly interrupted) guided play before he loses his schmidt. But there is nothing that holds his interest, or that he seeks out on his own.
Every year just before his birthday or Christmas come the phone calls. "What would Little Man just love for Christmas this year?!!"
In past years, I tried being creative. "He loves Thomas! Get him Thomas toys!" But then we end up with train sets geared for 2 years+ that will sit untouched in his closet with their teeny tiny plastic parts.
Then I got a little smarter, or so I thought. "Toys for 18 months or younger, he chews everything." Most of those toys are sitting in our toy pile, occasionally chewed on or played with Mommy/Little Man/therapist style.
His birthday in July was the first time I finally accepted what I'd known all along.
"Little Man does not need toys or books or anything kid related. Clothes or gift cards would be great."
Of course, he ended up getting some toys from well-meaning friends and family. And I tucked them away in his closet, hoping that one day I will get the chance to pull them out and watch his face light up with joy. I want so badly for him to be able to play with anything, enjoy something other than endless repeats of Thomas DVDs. But Little Man is who he is, and he likes bouncing around watching trains on television, and toys would just be a distraction from his daily jumping routine.
So for Christmas this year, Hubs and I aren't buying Little Man any more toys that will remain untouched, or books that he will rip to shreds, or stuffed animals that will get their faces chewed off. We are redoing his bedroom with bright blue paint. We are putting up wall decals of his favorite trains. We are getting him a brand new Thomas rug and Thomas sheets, and a "big boy" bed to put them on. We are getting him a Dutch door for his bedroom to make him safer at night. (And by "we" the grandparents and great-grandparents are helping too, that's a lot of big ticket gifts for a four year old!)
He won't open these gifts on Christmas morning, and he won't hug us and tell us what great parents we are for getting him exactly what he wanted while he plays with the toys for hours. But I think that when he sees that giant Thomas the Train looking at him on his pillow, or his wall... he will walk over to it and just stare for a minute or two. And he might even give him a kiss. And then I will know that we got him something really wonderful for Christmas this year, even as it hurts my heart a little to watch him walk away as we unwrap our gifts without him.