Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gift Cards

Today is my husband's birthday. Like most men, he is extremely difficult to shop for. What he needs, he buys when he needs it. What he wants, he buys when he wants it. That doesn't leave us much to choose from when we want to celebrate him and shower him with presents. I have spent 22 years trying to figure out what to give to him, failing miserably. There was one bad Christmas that I bought him a black IOU sweater. Two problems with that; he hates black and he hates sweaters. I think the only success I have had was the Michigan leather jacket and .....I think that is it. Lately I have resorted to buying him a bag full of snacks. (The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right?)

For his birthday, my husband received many cards in the mail, all of which contained gift cards to various restaurants. Not one of the gift cards were the same. These people have learned to do it the right way. Don't know what to buy him? Get him a gift card! He loves to eat, right? You don't just want to send him money, right? You want him to know that you are thinking about him and celebrate his birthday, right? Gift card!

So what does any of this have to do with my Adventures in Autism? When you have a child with a disability, the last thing you think about doing is going out and treating yourself. If you have had a hard parenting day, all you want to do is collapse on the coach and watch TV once they are in bed. You certainly hate to dump your difficult child on someone else to deal with so you can go out and enjoy yourself, especially when they are little and you can barely control them yourself. Babysitters ( i.e. Grandparents) are used for work purposes and emergency purposes only, maybe an occasional wedding.  Other family members have offered, but there is only so much you really want to dump on them.

This is where gift cards come in to play. If you give my husband a gift card, you are sending a number of different messages. One, you think enough of him to give him a present. Two, you think that he not only deserves a present, but a night out on the town with his lovely wife. Three, you are giving him permission to relax, if even for a few hours, and enjoy himself and enjoy a good meal ( and enjoy the company of the aforementioned wife). This is just the excuse we are looking for. We feel obligated to use the gift card, we don't want them to go to waste, and we know that the giver really wants us to take advantage of the opportunity as well. It is like a " get out of jail free" card. You don't have to use it right away, you can save it for when you need it most. You can make plans to go out, but also know that if the plans fall through, the gift card is still there, reminding you that your night out is all gift wrapped and ready to go. Because believe me, plans fall through. People get sick, Autism rears it's ugly head, kids fight, work intervenes, family calls. But that gift card sits there, saying, " Hey, I am here waiting for you. I am a few hours of deep breaths and silly stories and making plans and reconnecting with the love of your life."

Autism is hard. Being a parent is hard. Parents put their children first, always. Autism makes itself first, always. And if you think about it, most people have their children grow up, become more responsible, become babysitters themselves. They have a 12 year window or so that they need to get babysitters for their children, that they need to have someone else step in if they "step out". With Autism it is different. For most of us who have Autistic children, we might never leave them alone. They might live with us forever, and might need constant supervision forever. There are other people that will help at times, but we are talking about a lifetime of needing a sitter. A lifetime of asking for favors from others, just so we can get a night out together. So keep sending the gift cards, because that is your way of saying, " We love you, we love Katie, and we know how much you need a night out". It also shows how much you support us as we take these Adventures in Autism as a family.

**** Side note:  After reading this blog, my husband asked if I was "pulling a Katie", meaning asking people to feel sorry for us and send gift cards.  I am NOT doing that, so please don't actually send us gift cards.  It was just a point that I was making.  Please don't take me literally, or my husband will not let me blog anymore.  (I am also kidding about that, he couldn't stop me if he tried!)


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