Sundays…family day, rest day, church, calm, peaceful…yeah, not really. In our dream world, that’s what Sunday would mean. A nice morning at church, coming home to a Sunday afternoon nap, watching our favorite sports team with the family. In reality, Sunday means sensory overload, meltdowns, and the afternoon spent trying to rejuvenate and come down from “spin cycle”.
Our day starts early, as we like to be at the 9:00 church service. We didn’t used to, until we realized that the kids had no idea how to sit still in their grandparents’ church, and we decided they needed to start learning. So we’re up and out by 8:30, which is no easy task with everyone getting ready at once and trying to get therapy in so they are ready to go. Everything goes fine until we hit the front doors; that’s where Booga plants his feet, sticks his fingers in his ears, and starts screaming “I don’t want to sing!” Ok, the music in our church is a little loud. Probably a lot loud to him. And we understand, really we do, but we also know that this is part of his life, and he needs to learn to deal with it, so in we go. Most of the time, if I can hold him while we’re singing or at least rub his back and cover his ears a little, we get through. Sometimes, though, one of us has to walk him out until the singing is done. Squirt does better with this part of church, but even she starts to shut down when the guitars and drums really get going. She’s just easier to deal with because she just sits down and gets quiet. Sometimes I have to stop and remember that this is also a warning sign, and if I want her to make it through the service, I need to sit next to her and help her deal now.
After the singing, it gets a little easier, but we still have moments to deal with. Booga still has very little volume control, as he hears every little thing around him and thinks he has to talk over it all. Squirt never really learned to whisper well herself, but she tries. Booga also thinks he has to answer everything that’s going on up front, so if you hear enthusiastic praise for a solo or loud “amens” you know where it’s coming from! 🙂 Also, if the Sunday clothes, socks, or shoes aren’t just right, there will be a lot of wiggling. Unfortunately, this changes from week to week, so the pretty little white shoes that Squirt loved last week, are pinching her toes this week and she has to take them off. And put them back on. And take them off. And put them back on. And lose one under the pew. And go down to find it…
Next comes Sunday School. We have a love/hate relationship with Sunday School. Squirt has gotten to the tolerance point, where she will stay there and not melt down, but she won’t participate, and the input is just building up inside her, to all explode when we leave. Good for Sunday School teachers, not so good for Mom and Dad. Booga really, really wants to like Sunday School. After all, it’s better than sitting in church, right? He gets to run around and play at first, then there’s singing and movement and going to a classroom with all his friends and his very favorite teacher…Unfortunately, it’s a large room, with lots of children, music, noise, input…and his normal reaction is just to leave. Out the back door, the side door, the sliding divider, whatever. Teachers are learning to watch for his escape, but with that many children in one room, he still manages to get out at least once a month. And when all those children start singing; wow the input now. Noise, crowd, lights, fans, it’s a lot to take in. And Booga’s next step is to get crazy. Spin cycle time. And when he’s in spin cycle, his ears stop working. Apparently, he does pretty well in his classroom, but that may just be because he loves his teacher 😉
When it’s time to pick the kids up, we have a lot of craziness. Get through the pick-up line, which is a lot of children in a little space, filtering into a tiny hallway, out towards our coats, where the crowd stops to chat. Frustrating for us, overwhelming for them. This is the point where we tend to lose them completely. They don’t want to wait in line, they don’t want to be in the crowd, they don’t want to put on coats, and they don’t want to slow down. Even Boyo is beyond walking calmly on the way out of church. Most weeks we just try to grab them all and run. Usually we lose at least one of them to the crowd.
The ride home is usually full of loud voices, little sibling fights, and very hyper children. They’ve been on sensory overload for the past 3 hours. We’re not going to get them down anytime soon! By the time we get home, Mom and Dad are stressed out too! It would be so nice if, at this point, everyone would take a nice, calm, relaxing nap, right? Uh-huh. It would be nice. But it won’t happen. We usually have to let Squirt have alone time in her room, which she doesn’t really want, but definitely needs. And we try to find some calming activities for Boyo and Booga, but really they just want to fight and wrestle and get all that energy out! So it’s a crazy, wild afternoon.
But we are learning, and they are learning, and every week we can get a little closer to understanding how to change our Sundays for the better, and that’s all we can hope for!