They say children love rituals, and that children with Down syndrome in particular flourish when their day follows a steady pattern. Somehow, Sean has added several little rituals to his day that are very important to him and mostly fun for us.
1. Sean, Aidan and Doug sleep together in one room. Doug has his alarm set to go off twice, once at 7 am and again at 7:09. When the 7 am alarm goes off, Sean sits up in the bed and pats Doug to wake him, saying "Dada. Dada. Mama?" Doug says "Okay, Sean" giving Sean permission to come see me. Sean pitter patters his little flat footed feet into my room where I am sleeping with Ella. I usually feign sleep because I don't want to wake up yet. Sean gently pats my arm and says "Mama? Mama?" I peek an eye at him and he signs milk. I open the covers and give him a snuggle while he has his morning milk. He so gentle and warm and huggable. It's the best way to wake up.
2. After everyone is awake and ready to go downstairs, Sean insists that Daddy carry him down. He's perfectly capable of walking down himself, but every morning he wants Daddy to carry him down.
3. When we get to Sean's school, I try to get a parking space close to the entrance, right by this big tree. It has long sprawling roots. Sean gets out of the van and walks up to the tree, then he carefully steps over each root one by one. After he's navigated the root course, he eventually makes it to the building door. He HAS to push the handicap accessible button to open the door. If anyone tries to hold the door open for us, he won't budge. If anyone dares to push the button for him- look out! He will every get mad and lay down or he will push the door closed so HE can push the button.
4. When Doug goes back to work after lunch, he has a special little goodbye ritual with Sean. Sean opens the door and says "Bye bye dadda" and Doug goes outside. Doug turns around and puts his hand in the door jam. Sean tells him "no no" and points to where the door knob latches. Doug moves his hand to that spot and says "Don't shut the door on my hand!" Sean laughs and swings the door shut. Doug yanks his hand out of the way, but pretends it got hurt. Yelping and fake crying. More laughter from Sean as he peeks out the door at Doug. Then he is fine with daddy leaving, so long as they got to do their goodbye game.
5. This is another one of my favorites. When I was young, I watched The Incredible Shrinking Woman and loved this little song in the movie. It stuck with me and when I had Aidan I would sing it to him when I gave him a bath. I sing it to Sean as well and they both expect it as part of our bathing ritual. It goes like this:
"Ooooooooooooooooh" (Sean raises his foot in the air while I lather up my hands.)
"I wish I was a little bar of soap!" (I wash his foot and leg.)
"Oooooooooooooooh" (Sean gives me his other foot.)
"I wish I was a little bar of soap!" (I wash that leg.")
"I'd rub Seanie's hinnie and make it nice and shineyyyyyyy." (I wash his bottom and tummy while he giggles.)
"Ooooooooooooooh" (I wash his arms and back.)
"I wish I was a little..." (I wash face and neck.)
"bar of soap!" (last part is sung in a deep low voice, in unison, and we are done washing his body.)
The boys don't like it when Daddy gives them a bath because he doesn't sing the Bar of Soap song.
6. Last one, to help motivate the boys to get dressed, I came up with this little game. I hold their shirt up, with the neck opening making a circle/hoop. Then I say "Fire in the Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooole!" and as I say hole they charge at me as fast as they can like bull and put their head in the hole. I've found once the head is in, it's not so hard to get them to put their arms in and then it's done.
I'm going to miss it when my babies get too big for these little games and rituals! What are some of your favorite ones with your children?