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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Home Depot Pumpkins

Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors, the smells, the leaves changing. It feels cozy and hopeful, and with every leaf that leaves its branch you know you are closer to the holiday season. A few weeks before Halloween, we decided it was time to get our pumpkins. It took us most of the morning to get the kids ready and willing to get in the car, but finally we made it. Everyone was in the car, some happier than others. We started the trek to the pumpkin farm, which is my favorite part of every Fall. I was anticipating the apple cider, the hay ride, the pictures of my adorable children with goofy smiles on their faces...I had a Halloween movie on the car's DVD player, we were talking about Halloween costumes and parties. Getting in the mood.

Then it started to rain. Actually, pour. 

With much trepidation, Alex and I decided it just wasn't possible to visit the pumpkin farm that day, because even if the rain stopped, everything would be wet wet wet. I gingerly broke the news to the little people in the back seat. 

They went ballistic.

We finally figured out that they weren't so disappointed that we weren't going to be able to go to the pumpkin farm as they were devastated that they couldn't carve pumpkins that day. To them, carving pumpkins was the most important part of the day, not doing Fall-y stuff at the pumpkin farm.

Alex said, under his breath so only I could hear, that maybe we should go to Home Depot to get pumpkins to carve this year. 


That goes against everything I hold holy about Fall. Home Depot is a wonderland of home project possibilities, and I love it there, but it is definitely not a pumpkin farm. Home Depot does not have hot apple cider and cider donuts. Home Depot does not have falling leaves and sweet picture opportunities. Home Depot does not have the ambiance of a pumpkin farm in Fall. I just about wept at the thought of Home Depot pumpkins.

But then I thought this was one of those times when the needs of my children outweigh my desires, or what I feel is important. I decided that what really was important about the day was to get pumpkins, regardless of where they're purchased, and carve them. So I agreed that we could go to *gasp* Home Depot for pumpkins.

It actually worked out great. There was none of the overstimulating things that end up making our pumpkin farm visits a nightmare. The pumpkins at Home Depot were sitting out on the front sidewalk, covered with an awning so we didn't get wet while choosing the perfect ones. There was no music, no swarms of people, no endless walking, no mud and hay to get in our shoes, no smells to overwhelm our noses, no games or rides to fight about "doing first," no snacks to spend a million dollars on, no miles and miles of pumpkins to make a child with ADHD and SPD overwhelmed to the point of shutting down because how could he possibly choose just one pumpkin out of the 8000 choices that were available?
It was just a few pumpkins, stacked on the sidewalk, at Home Depot, in the rain. My kids were happy. I swallowed my disappointment as I watched Ella prance around picking her pumpkin, and saw that although it still took Ben an insane amount of time to make a decision, he wasn't overwhelmed. No one was fighting because they were exhausted and overstimulated and frustrated. They just were picking pumpkins in the rain on a sidewalk. So I tucked this knowledge into my heart and decided that I needed to be ok with the fact that sometimes my expectations have to change for the happiness and well-being of my children.

We took our specially-picked pumpkins home and carved them. The kids were happy.

The kids had the following Monday off from school, so I took them to a pumpkin farm that day instead. It was wonderful, for the most part. The air was pristine and perfectly Fall-like. We rode all the rides and played all the games, at least three times. We had lunch at a picnic table. We spent all day having relaxed Fall fun. Without Daddy, which was sad for me but made Daddy happy because he doesn't get as big of a kick out of the whole pumpkin farm as I do. He feels more like the kids do at those places- overstimulated, suffocated, exhausted, and overwhelmed. And crabby, don't forget how the rest of my family gets very crabby at these farms. In fact, it is quite possible that from now on I should just rent a family and go with them to the pumpkin farm. My family really doesn't enjoy it that much, and I force them all to go every year because you HAVE to go to a pumpkin farm in the Fall! It's Mommy's Rule! There aren't too many things that are as important to me as going to a pumpkin farm. Maybe because I didn't get to do that special Fall activity as a kid, I am filled with excitement every year at the prospect of all the Fall activities I will get to do at a pumpkin farm with my kids.

Sometimes it's so 'in my face' that my kids have special needs and need special accommodations. Accommodations from the world, from school, and also from me. There are many times when I have to adjust my expectations, and lots of times it's not too hard. However, when a pumpkin farm was involved, it was extremely difficult for me to change my expectations and give my kiddos what they needed in the moment. I did it, but it was really hard. I have hopes and dreams and expectations like any parent, and when something that is important to me has to be changed for the sake of my kids, it takes a little time for me to be ok with that. I get there eventually- like when all the kids were blissfully carving their pumpkins and sticking their hands in the oozy, gushy pumpkin guts (something they used to all be afraid of!), I knew getting Home Depot pumpkins that day was the right decision. And I still got to go to the pumpkin farm, it was just a pumpkin-less excursion. 

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