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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Pajama Game

Traditionally, Janey hasn't cared a great deal what she wore.  Once in a while, she'd get attached to a certain shirt, especially at one point her "rainbow shirt", which was a tacky thing with sequins making up a rainbow.  But usually, she just wears what I put on her.  Lately, though, that isn't the case.  Janey has become hugely attached to pajamas, and most especially, her "snowman jammies", a fleecy nightgown, very wintery, with snowmen on it.

All weekend, Janey wanted to wear her snowman getup.  It was a fairly hot weekend, with yesterday close to 90, and it was painful for me to see her in fleece.  But I gave in mostly.  I cruelly insisted on regular clothes when we had to leave the house, but inside the house, I let her wear the nightgown.  By midday yesterday, it was covered with food, and I had to wash it.  That was traumatic.  Janey kept searching for it, and throwing a complete fit when we tried to substitute other nightgowns, or, God forbid, regular clothes.  When Tony was going to take her to the store, she had reluctantly settled on a long ago outgrown pajama top.  He put shorts under it and was heading out the door.  I stopped them, and tried very hard to convince them both that a too small pajama top was not suitable wear for out in public, but Tony said "it took this long to get her into something---just let it be!"  I realized he had a point.  The top covered what needed to be covered, was fairly clean and at a distance might not look like pajamas, so I let it go.  She fell asleep in it later, so I didn't have the nighttime snowman jammie fight.

I think the jammie obsession is part of Janey's need to recreate situations that comfort her.  Friday night, once she got in the nightgown and I lay down with her to get her to sleep, she has the most wonderful look of comfort and happiness on her face, and she actually looked straight at me and said "together again!"  It was great.  The jammies are part of the stage setup she uses.  They are part of how she creates a comfort zone for herself, and I do respect and understand that.  But....

I was worried about dressing Janey for school today.  I managed to get her to have a bath, which has started to be another battle, and then when dressing her I put on my very best stage banter, which I have gotten good at over the years.  "Hey, look at this nice shirt!  It seems like a jammie shirt to me!  It looks very comfy!  And WOW!  This skirt seems just like a jammie skirt!  It has a nice elastic waist!  It looks so nice!", all the while dressing her as fast as humanly possible, hoping to get away with it.  So far so good.  Janey is watching her usual 7-7:30am dose of Curious George, still dressed for now.

In a way, it's cool to me that Janey has started to notice what she wears.  Although I'm not much of a dresser myself, I enjoy clothes---I enjoy picking them out for her, I like comparing brands, I just plain like clothes.  I've often tried to interest her in clothes.  But of course, like most things with autism, now that she is noticing them, there is her own twist.  That's my Janey.


Sophie's Trains said...

For me, the most humbling and self-searching aspect of autism is the fact that it forces me to give up so much of my control. I too like my children to look a certain way, to do things "properly" to behave appropriately etc. Well Sophie doesn't lol. She literally does what she feels like most of the time. Jump in puddles? Eat rice and sauce with fingers? Throw off hair clips so hair over face? I can't tell her "mommy would like if..." Because really she don't give a toot. I can't threaten with punishment because it doesn't mean anything to her. I could physically force her to comply by picking her up and causing her to flail and kick so I only save that for life or death sort of matters. And so I pick my battles and re-evaluate what is really important and what I can let go... Like a pajama top vs abandoning a happy outing ;)
I have to say I learned more about myself and my own control issues parenting Sophie than any of my other kids.

Sophie's Trains said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sabrina Steyling said...

I'm so glad that she didn't want to wear that fleece shirt to school today! I was worried about that for you, I really was. Especially on a day like today, it's hot as blazes here in NJ so I can imagine it's probably just as hot where you are - definitely not fleece weather!

It's cool that Janey is noticing her clothes now, and, as you said, giving it her own little personal twist. I think that now whenever I see a snowman I'll think of her... ;)

Suzanne said...

You are so right about the parenting issues and control issues! It's been a huge lesson I've learned with Janey, who, just like Sophie, couldn't care less if I am not pleased with what she does. And I realize so much of what I think of as non-negotiable really is very negotiable! It's funny because we had the hair clips issue this very morning, and I figured---okay, let her have her hair loose. And the puddles? She could be Sophie's twin there too. That's the main point of the wading pool for her, to take out water and put it in a patch of dirt and play with the mud. With the boys, I would have made all kinds of rules, but with Janey, I'm happy she's happy. But I have to admit it's not easy giving up that control.

Sabrina, thanks so much for thinking of us! I had a nervous morning too, waiting to see how severe the fight was, because I think wearing a fleece nightgown to school in 90 degree weather was going to be one of the battled I'd have had to pick!