As per usual, we celebrated New Year’s Eve at home with the kids. Well, the “usual” part is we usually stay home. Actually celebrating New Year’s Eve -that’s a little different for us. In an uncharacteristic moment of weakness, I had rashly told the kids that they could all stay up until midnight this year. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking.
Of course my Aspie girl could not just experience happy anticipation like practically every other child on the planet. No, no, no. That would be far too easy, and we all know Autism Is Hard. Miss Queenie was filled with anxiety about it all, and she had to act out her emotions on everyone around her. All the freakin’ live-long day.
By 1:30 pm I’d had enough of my daughter snarling at me and her father, picking loud, shrieky fights with her siblings every three minutes, and generally being impossible. I declared that it had been a mistake to say she could stay up until midnight, and we were very sorry but we would have to celebrate the New Year at 10 pm and then send the children to bed. I would like to point out, by the way, that ten o’clock is still significantly later than my younger kids’ usual bedtime.
Queen Bee ranted and raged about my about-face, as I had expected, and then she hit me where it hurts. She told me she was afraid her classmates would make fun of her for not being allowed to stay up until midnight. Take note, any children on the Autism Spectrum who are reading this: the way to get your mother to agree to something is to relate it to the social environment. Moms of Aspies will do just about anything to give their kids a fighting chance in the social world.
But still. The thought of Queen Bee, up until midnight. Another 10.5 hours of this behaviour, followed by even worse behaviour the next day, because heaven knows the child never sleeps in more than twenty minutes past her usual wake-up time, no matter how late she’s up the night before. What to do, what to do?
I did what any good mother would do. I lied.
Starting at about 3:30 pm, whenever Queen Bee and her siblings were engrossed in something, I would race around the house setting clocks ahead by half an hour. By 7 pm the clocks were two hours ahead. When the clocks read ten o’clock, the younger kids were marvelling about how they were up so much later than they’d ever been before, and yet they didn’t feel very tired. They had no idea it was only 8 pm.
After Operation Lie to Your Children took effect, we had a pretty good New Year’s Eve. We played family games, ate an indecent amount of food, and generally just hung out. Queen Bee was so full of relief over being allowed to stay up late that she made some attempt to moderate her behaviour. It was still exhausting to deal with her, but at least now we had a threat to hang over her head: behave yourself child, or I will recant my decision to let you stay up until midnight. I reversed myself once, and I can do it again. (It takes a special kind of mom-genius to use inconsistency in discipline for your own purposes. No wonder my child’s such a mess.)
We carefully avoided the computers, television and live radio, until five minutes to “twelve”. Mr. Fixit had managed to find a YouTube video featuring a New Year’s countdown focused on Big Ben in London. It looked sufficiently like the Canadian Parliament Buildings, just down the road from us, to convince Queen Bee and Tonka they were celebrating the New Year in solidarity with our community. We did the big countdown, everybody hugged and kissed, and Queen Bee….raced into the kitchen to tear the December page off the calendar. I have no idea why she thought she should do that at the stroke of midnight. Sometimes Asperger’s looks a lot like crazy. After we convinced her to come away from the calendar, we properly toasted the New Year, and we had Queen Bee and Tonka in bed by 12:10 on our clocks. Within twenty minutes they were asleep and I had changed every clock back to the correct time.
Creative Cat, Mr. Fixit and I put on our pyjamas and watched TV in the basement until midnight. Then we celebrated the New Year again. We were all in bed by five minutes after midnight. The real midnight.
Happy New Year, everyone. No matter what time you celebrated, I hope 2011 is filled with health and happiness for all of you. And if you ever tell my middle child about the Great New Year’s Eve Deception of 2010, I will hunt you down and hurt you.