The List of Firsts

This genius idea came to me when I…well, when I asked my wife what I should write about.

It came to her as she watched Lily play in the snow with Emma and I for what was, for all intents and purposes, the first time. She’s been in the snow before, but she’s hard to keep boots and mittens on, and she doesn’t like the sled, and sometimes it’s just…easier not to force the issue.

“Lily, do you want to go outside and play in the snow?”

“No. I no like snow!”

That’s typically been good enough for us. Something I’ve really tried to focus on recently though is being more open to including Lily in things that we might ordinarily dismiss as being uninteresting to her.

We know her well enough now to know that the answer to almost any “Do you want to” question is “No. I no like (insert activity).” And often the result of having her do it anyway is that she enjoys it, to the point where we change our phrasing of those questions and typically say instead, “Lily it’s time to (insert activity).” She then seems more receptive.

So we decided to take Lily out into the snow to play. She had boots and new mittens, it was moderately warm outside, and I wanted a chance to play with both girls…together. And I got her on the sled twice, and she hated it twice, but she LIKED playing in the snow, to the point where when I asked the question, “Lily do you want to go inside?” her answer was, (as you might expect) “No, I no like inside.”

And so Lily had her first real chance to play in the snow…ever. She’s seven.

Looking back on the past year, we had a first Pirate’s game, a first movie, first trip to the amusement park and a first birthday party. But this list of firsts isn’t about looking back, it’s about looking ahead and picking firsts for Lily that we want to try with her, and then trying them…

Things Emma has done for years, we’re finally making happen for Lily too. And these may not be first steps or first words type milestones, but they’re better firsts in a way because they are first moments that we as parents can control. We can dictate Lily’s firsts. We can decide what to try with her, and the more daring we get, the more comfortable we are trying still more new things.

In this first month of 2013, we can look ahead and plan some first experiences for Lily now and allow ourselves a chance to schedule supports ahead of time, make adaptations, and set ourselves up to succeed at making memorable and enjoyable firsts for our little girl. And if she likes them enough (or doesn’t dislike them), then we’ve added one more enjoyable whole-family activity to what is currently a too short a list.

first carousel

Lily’s first carousel ride – not her last.

About Jim

Jim is a happily married father of two daughters, one autistic, one not. He writes about autism, parenting, and his busy family life at Just A Lil Blog when his busy family life allows.

14 thoughts on “The List of Firsts

  1. Echoing Marj’s comment. Here’s to many enjoyable family activities!

    I did chuckle as I read this; Nik’s default reply to EVERY yes/no question is “no.” We’ve had to modify our phrasing, too. Funny how much better that works, isn’t it?

    • I just do whatever my wife tells me we’re doing, but I’m not sure where she’s going with all these firsts…I mean, it’s not really a first to have a first SECOND visit to the amusement park is it? And I won’t take anyone who isn’t over the age of 16 to a Penguin or Steelers game (to much drunken swearing). Maybe first airplane flight….

  2. “Firsts” are a wonderful thing. Well, at least the ones they enjoy. Jace for the most part enjoys firsts. Getting to those firsts take a little more time than I would like. And not because he has issues with it, no, that would be me. I tend to go back and forth on trying firsts with him. Will he like it? Will it be a disaster? We are paying money to try this “first”. What if he hates it? What a waste of money.
    Sheesh. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. lol But, all in all Jace usually enjoys firsts. He loved Flying, he loved Disney World, he loves Pirate games, etc.He does not like snow. lol
    I am glad Lily liked it. I am even more happy that you got to experience playing in the snow with both of your daughters. :)

    • haha, thanks, Kelly. More than anything she liked batting at it. maybe cause it’s soft and she can hit it and it scatters everywhere and she’s not dirty when she’s done…not sure…

  3. Loved this Jim! Lily’s answer reminds me so much of R’s typical answer to anything too. Ha! At 18 we have now graduated to giving him a choice of 2 Riley “undesireables”…great fun! :D

  4. Great post Jim. We’ve been intentionally and actively turning the holiday into a bunch of “firsts” too. Not everything goes as planned (well, none of it does), but in the process my son finds new joys and new knowledge of what he likes, doesn’t like, can and can’t do (yet). Both him and us as parents greatly benefit from just giving it a go anyway. With enough planning and preparation, we’ve had more little successes than failures, and I look to recognise successes that might otherwise be seen as minor achievements (like him taking three, but only three, steps up a climbing wall). One step at a time, literally. Oh hey, I think there’s a post in that for my own blog! I’ll link back to yours here if I go with that, so extra thanks! :)

    • SWEET! Yeah, I think if you map them out ahead of time there’s a much better chance of success. I think most of what we do we do so REactively that it’s almost a dead lock at failure. When we plan ahead we have MUCH better luck…and not even because we’ve made plans or accommodations, but because we’re all in the right mindset. Me in particular. If I have time to get my head around something then I’m MUCH more patient when we do it.

      Thanks for commenting, Linda!

  5. I really like the idea of thinking ahead about firsts, so you can plan for supports and adapt where necessary. Just because it’s a first doesn’t mean it has to be impromptu! New things can definitely be made a bit less scary with some careful planning. Good one.

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