Christmas Day is here!
Sometimes you long for a nice quiet Christmas at home. Sometimes you have no choice in the matter! Lauren, our 10 year old, had become increasingly poorly during the week, and Christmas morning started with her vomiting. Not the present she was expecting!
Charlie took Annie and Alice to the Christmas day celebration at church, and I took the opportunity to crack on with the lunch preparations. By the time Charlie returned home with the girls, pretty much everything was ready. Just enough time to open some presents, while the turkey finished cooking. Lauren snuggled on the sofa under her duvet, making her best effort to join in the fun. It’s amazing how the atmosphere in the house is totally different when our extrovert daughter is poorly!
We wait with baited breath as Alice opens her gifts. We could have put money on what was about to be said. With only the fourth present opened Alice declared “I haven’t had any of the presents on my list”. This is a regular sentiment at Christmas or Birthdays.
“Thank You” is a rarely heard phrase! We try to give this no attention – just a quick glance between Charlie and me, with Annie and Lauren knowingly rolling their eyes! We move on quickly. It’s is hard not to feel a little disappointed at her response, but we have come to accept this as the norm. Due to the circumstances of her start in life, Alice finds, as so many children in care do, empathy hard to express. It isn’t personal, and to be fair it is largely truthful (the original list was…interesting!). It does take composure though to look beyond it and not feel deflated.
Annie and Lauren turn their attention to their own presents. Their response is priceless, and serves as an interesting parallel to Alice’s response. They were genuinely excited about the thought that had gone into the gifts that they had been given. We hope that over time, Alice will see their responses and learn by their example!
Meal times are not always easy. Alice has had so many issues with food. The effort put into Christmas Day meal will make no exception for her old tricks. Her mouth resembles a washing machine as the food goes round and round. After 25 mins of not swallowing we have to get her to spit it out. This results in a further stand-off involving her finishing her drink which contains vital medicine in it.
Through the support of healthcare professionals we have learnt to see this behaviour in a similar sense to her lack of empathy. The important thing is to not react, and we deal with it well, though it means the meal ends on a bit of a downer!
Things settle down throughout the afternoon, as we all sit down to watch a movie, and it is genuinely lovely to see Alice play in her new ‘castle’ play den. We can hear her playing with her new dolls, chatting happily away to them, and remember that she is safe, secure and loved. And on today of all days, that is always worth celebrating!
A Less Ordinary Family