Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘Ritual

Safe House

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Once Pudding’s birthday is over and done with, I give December over to Christmas.  We pulled out our not-so-authentic tree and boxes of ornaments, and realized that we must have inadvertently sent a box of decorations to storage.  We can’t find our stocking holders here, and probably some other things that I haven’t yet noticed.  We waited until Cubby went down for a nap, then got to work, knowing that otherwise we’d have two sets of hands thwarting our efforts.

Pudding adored getting into the boxes.  She delighted in unwrapping our ornaments, recognizing them from Christmases gone by.  It always make me wonder just how far back she can remember.  For those of us who aren’t blessed with such a sturdy memory these days, I could look on the bottom of my ornaments to see where on our travels I’d collected each one.  I didn’t need to write on my Red Sox ornament to remind me of my day Defying Gravity in Boston.  The following day, we headed out to the craft market so that South Africa would be represented on our tree of travels.

And of course, there is our other collection.  A steady record of our kids’ special interests through the years.  Pudding loves these.  It reminds me I need to find a Hello Kitty ornament to out on our tree this year.

Having a tree up is a challenge.  There has already been casualties, including the beheading of Santa on my favourite ornament bought one snowy December in Germany.  The kids can’t help but touch, and it takes all the patience we can muster not to chastise them for something that can’t be helped.  Unless, of course, we were to skip the ritual for a year.

I find that as I get further away from my traditional expectations of Christmas, I cling harder to the rituals that we are able to keep in place.  It is summer here in

Shortly before he was beheaded

South Africa, and it feels very different from every Christmas I’ve ever known.  I feel very far from home.  It is tempting to skip, to ignore the time of year when it just feels so wrong.

But that is the thing about rituals- they’re the thing that make us feel safe.  We need them.  This won’t be our home until we’ve spent a Christmas here.  I’ll be homesick until here feels like home.  It may not be the kind of Christmas I’d choose, but this is the Christmas we have, and we’ll make it our own.

Earlier today I was going through old paperwork, and I found some language tests the Pudding’s teacher had carried out over the previous year.  One test was the question: Who keeps you safe?  Pudding had answered incorrectly all three times she’d been tested, including the last time, in May shortly before we left, when she’d answered “home.”

A telling mistake, she’d confused “who” with “what” or perhaps “where.”  But even though she was incorrect, I know how right she is.  I can’t help but be glad that she associates safe with home.  And every ritual, every memory we carve from this house, from any house, will add to that feeling of security.  So we’ll have our first Christmas here, and I might have to sacrifice some of my ornaments in the process, but we’ll make new memories in the process.  Safely at home, where Christmas is supposed to be.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm

My cup of tea

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A picture of Tea and a Biscuit.

Image via Wikipedia

I recently discovered that Pudding has developed a new ritual of talking me through her day as I put her to bed.   She instructs me to get in bed for a cuddle, and then she talks.  And talks.  Sometimes she sings.   She shares.   I love it.  We aren’t yet at the point where she is really talking about her day, but she tells me what happened.  I’m going to introduce talking about my day, the parts I liked and didn’t, and my feelings about it.  We’ll see if she is ready to do the same.

The word “ritual” can have negative connotations, but that isn’t always the case.  Some rituals can offer comfort, create a routine, and mark transitions throughout the day.

In the comments from my post the other day, Courtney referred to her ritual as the glass of wine when she returns from work. Once her ritual takes place, she relaxes and can chat about the day. Pudding’s metaphorical glass of wine is to bounce on her trampoline, or swing. Getting that sensory input is important for her to transition from a day at school. I never realized how necessary this was until I interrupted it.  I think, though I could well be wrong, that this bedtime chat is another way she transitions.  Instead of getting out her excess energy, she is getting out her excess words, or thoughts.  Maybe one day she’ll release her feelings, and feel more peaceful for sleep.

My ritual is in a morning.  I am less human, and more cranky swamp creature in the morning.  My husband dutifully brings me a cup of tea, and that is my transition from slumber to reality.  I punctuate the day with a cup of tea: the morning one, the breakfast one, the evening one.  I know, English ex-pat drinking tea is too much of a cliche to dwell on.  I can manage fine without the others, but that morning one is essential.  I just feel “off” all day without it.  It isn’t a caffeine issue; I’ve been drinking decaf for over a decade.  It has nothing to do with the children; that morning cup has been part of my ritual since I was a child.  There is comfort in beginning my day the same way.  I’ll carry on as long as I continue not to be a morning person.  Just because I regularly wake at 5 these days, it doesn’t follow that I’m any better at it.  My husband will vouch for that!

So just as rituals are important to the rest of us, so they are to Pudding too.  Probably more so, as she starts to learn what her body needs to take away the many stresses of the day.  I just hadn’t realized that she had them until I disturbed them, this discovery was a happy accident for me.  Now that I know, I’ll do my best to ensure I don’t pour away her metaphorical glass of wine, or cup of tea.  I think we all need a little comfort in our day.

How about you?  Do you or the people you love have a ritual that brings comfort?  What is your cup of tea?

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

January 13, 2011 at 7:28 am