Ornament Endurance Tests

Christimas 2008

Teghan begs for the Christmas tree and a trip to the beach all year long. She’s so used to being turned down I imagine she only asks out of habit now. The response “No Christmas tree!” actually makes her laugh. But on Thanksgiving we threw off her whole routine and finally set up the Christmas tree. Unfortunately, the beach is not in our immediate plans.

She is obsessed with ornaments. The traditional cheap ones she likes to tap her fingernails on and bounce off the floor. The glittery snowflakes she prefers to break apart and, occasionally, take a bite. She doesn’t have the fine motor skills to properly re-attach them to the branches so she just stuffs them in wherever she can. If they fall to the floor? Even better. Our tree looks pretty pathetic, but after the first day we decided it was easier this way. We could spend all day redecorating the tree in our own little OCD cycle, but that seems like poor time management. And I would hate to cut into my “eating on the couch” time. 

This has now become her favorite activity. She is so happy to sit quietly under the tree conducting ornament endurance tests that she hardly wants to watch YouTube videos on our phones anymore. The other night she was engrossed in some Pop Tart video she has seen a billion times when the Christmas tree suddenly caught her eye again. She was helpless to it. She immediately handed me the phone, and with a huge smile spread across her face she plopped down in front of it and went to work dismantling a beaded angel ornament.

She’s so easy to please.

Her eighth birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks. In the past we have used this as present-opening practice, but she pretty much has the hang of things now. She doesn’t understand how Christmas or other holidays work, but she knows how to open a gift. I think this year we will get her just a couple of big things. She tends to open one gift and just want to play with that for the rest of the day. If we waited for her to open all of her gifts on her own, it would take weeks. It’s just too overwhelming for her.

I love that she has no expectations. For the first time this year she figured out how grocery shopping works. She used to just kind of “zone out,” but now she likes pushing the cart and will put in some of her favorites. She obviously enjoys having a say in what ends up in our kitchen. Sometimes she attempts to swipe candy from the checkout, but making her put it back has yet to cause a meltdown. She seems to understand the word “no” at the store much better than at home.

We took her to a toy store a couple of weeks ago and she excitedly went down all the aisles tapping and randomly looking at things. Never once did she assume she could keep something. When we got to the Barbie section she examined everything but put each item back in its place. I said, “You can pick one and take it home.” She looked confused, but seemed to connect it to the way we let her pick out a box of cereal at Kroger. She held onto one for a long time and when I asked her if she wanted to take it home she said, “home” and took my hand. She was so excited when she watched me buy it. Until she had it back in her hands and we were walking in the parking lot I don’t think she really believed it would happen.

Barbies are her favorite, so she will be getting Barbies and Barbie accessories for sure this Christmas. Last week she went into the closet and pulled out her toy shopping cart. She has had it for years, and has never used it for pretend shopping; but on this day she strolled it into the kitchen, opened up the refrigerator, and put the egg carton in her cart. She has been more involved in cooking lately, too, so I’m thinking some toy food and kitchen items might make the list.

Every year gets a little more exciting as she slowly figures out the world around her. The part of the holidays I am dreading most this year? Taking down the Christmas tree. We may have to make an unplanned beach trip just to get through it.

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