Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
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Monday, July 9, 2012

Oh the dread...the suffocating dread...

Okay, that sounds a tad melodramatic, but

WHATEVER.



I am stressed.

Okay guys...lean in, because this is, as of this moment, top secret information.  I've signed my little guy Jack up for a week long Autism Spectrum Disorder summer day camp.  It is going to be next Monday to Friday, for six hours a day.

I'm horrified.

I'm horrified.  I can't believe I've done it.  When Jack finds out, he's going to




you have no idea.



Here's the blurb about the camp:


"Children will participate in a
wide variety of recreational activities to practice social skills, life skills, make new friends and have fun.
Activities may include: Fine motor activities, craft, swimming, gross motor skills (sports & movement
activities), indoor and outdoor activities."

Yes, I yearn for Jack to be able to learn how to make friends.  Yes, I want him to be able to get out there and get some exercise.  Yes, I'm even hoping that he feels a little bit less anxiety about leaving the house.

I even have this fantasy.  I have this fantasy that there's a boy there, and he and Jack hit it off.  They actually become friends, and want to hang out with each other, and then they have each other as buddies for life.

Just a little fantasy of mine.  Indulge me.

But nobody understands.  Everyone who I've talked to thinks this is great, and that I'm doing "the right thing," and that Jack needs this, and it's nothing but positive, and all the while, I feel like a total creep.

I feel like I've completely sold my little guy out.  Because I don't know if people realise how happy he is that he's not in school right now.  I don't know if people realise how difficult school is for him--because I do.  I was there in his classroom that day, and before that, I just kinda naively figured that the school day was a struggle because it was boring, and because kids his own age don't get him.  I didn't realise that the very act of sitting there-- trying to be natural and just frigging sit there, was  pure torture, and that every time a kid in class coughed, his eyes widened and he worked with all his mental fortitude to not mimic that cough.  You know:  because I told him to try as hard as he could to not "copy" his "friends." I told him that if he could just master that, the other kids wouldn't be annoyed with him.  And there he was, doing it for me.

So, the kid's been home now for a couple of weeks.  He goes on youtube.  He draws. He listens to his music.  He swims in the afternoons, and he is calm and content.  He can actually fall asleep at night, and all because he knows he has a long, long break from hell.

I haven't told him yet.  I will tell him in the next day or so.  I'm always torn between whether to wait, and tell him just before the dreaded day, so he won't suffer such terrible anxiety as he anticipates the event, or, tell him in advance so he has lots of time to process things.

He's going to scream. He's going to cry.  He's going to throw things.  He'll probably attack one of his parents.  He's going to be in despair.  He'll plead, he'll beg, he'll ask "WHY?  WHY?" a million times.  Hell, I can hear his crying in my mind now.  It's going to completely ruin his next two weeks.  And mine probably...

But I always get fooled.  I always trick myself into thinking that my little guy is so improved, that he doesn't need these things.  Just a few days ago I was thinking, again, about what a monster I am, and how could I force him to take part in this agonizing week that awaits him.  How is this going to help him?  He's so pleasant, what could this possibly do for him?  It's only one week!  What kind of changes could happen in one week?!?  Plus, it's all day!  Aren't the long hours going to be totally counterproductive in the end?

And then,

the very next day, The Man was at the office.  I was home with my two kids.  It was dinner time. I was just about to make Jack his dinner time peanut butter and jam sandwich.  I only had two pieces of bread left.  One was the end piece.  I was horrified.  What the hell was I going to do???  Jack doesn't eat the end piece!  How could I have been so foolish to have a piece of bread at lunch?!?

I ran across the street to my sister's.  Oh no.  She only had that whole wheat bread that LOOKS like white bread.  I had no choice. I had to try it.  Also, I was almost out of chocolate syrup.  The horror!  So, it was then that it hit me, as I was putting peanut butter on this pale bread, and worrying that Jack would reject it on sight, and realising that I still can't just hop into the car with the kids and go to the store, and realising...

well,

you know.

So I don't know.  Does anyone have any tips on how I can stop feeling like a total monster for sending my favourite 8 year old guy to a camp for 5 days, when all he wants is to do his own thing in peace?

Anyone?

30 comments:

  1. Deep breath.

    This is not going to kill him, or you.

    Maybe he'll hate it. Maybe he'll freak out. And he'll go, and get through it. Maybe it'll be better than he imagines. Or you.

    I guess I don't have any advice, except take a deep breath. You're not trying to kill the kid, and this may help.

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    1. It's great advice Leauxra. I do thank you for your wise, clear-headed words. I only wish MY STINKING HEART could absorb them. IF only it were a half-day thing.

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  2. No tips, just tears. For your little man and for you. I wish I could say I relate but I can't. I've only been the 'worker' in this, not the mommy. Having said that, from a former staff, I can say it'll help, it'll work out,blah,blah,blah. And it will. But as a mommy, oh Babe, my heart hurts for you. Rock, meet hard place. Good luck. (I really need to stop reading you. You make me feel your emotions! And Jack's! Then I blubber and blather...)

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    1. well come on over and we'll blubber and blather together :( OH man, I so regret signing the kid up for this. Maybe something magical will happen and by the end of next week I'll be screaming "BEST DECISION EVER!!" but somehow I don't think so.

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  3. Karen, when you read this from our perspective, we see you as a wonderful mom who tries to think of everything to make her son happy. Normal or not your son has all of your love. I am sure it will work out, maybe not with shouts of happiness but you are trying to expose your son to more and more. He is growing up and as a parent you sometimes have to do for him what you think is best even if he doesn't think so. You have to let yourself know it is ok to not always do what he wants because you are looking out for his future. Good luck.

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    1. It's true, Alaina, and I thank you for your support once again. I just wish it wouldn't cause him so much agony when I tell him.

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  4. There is a book out called, Parenting isn't for Cowards.(never read it, the title is intimidating)........a very good title indeed, as it is the most emotional roller coaster ride from hell at times. If someone had said to me or given me a video recording of my life with children I would have shrunk back and gotten my tubes tied at 19.

    Even this past weekend I spent crying, because apparently we sucked as parents and were too tough, and had too many rules. We try til our eyes bleed, to be good parents, we worry about every scratch,(will it turn to the flesh eating disease?) every rash, every booger, every cry in the night, every freaking moment. It doesn't seem fair. I was a lousy parent because I did not let my kids underage drink, and do drugs, ooh we had a curfew, and didn't let my kids date creepy , sex crazed idiot boys.

    No matter what you do Karen you do it because in the end it is better for your kid, and you know it. All you want it a fighting chance for your kid to survive. YUP. Don't beat yourself up. My kids don't have, a disorder, were not beat, they were loved, entertained, sports etc,.......and look they are still complaining we sucked. Parenting is a thankless job. Only, when they become parents will they know the anguish, of choosing what is right for them, no matter how much they bitch and complain.
    My last kid just turned 18 and graduated high school. I told them I am retired now. I retired from parenting.....well not really, we had the talk about getting your arse out that door to get a job, lazy bones, and yes, it may be one you don't like, so suck it up buttercup.

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    1. Melissa you always zero in on the truth. Parenting IS DEFINITELY not for cowards!!! I'm sorry you're going through some stressful times yourself. It never ends though, does it. It's true: all I want is a fighting chance for Jack to survive. That is exactly it. Can this be done in a week of camp? We shall see.

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  5. I'm not qualified to offer advice, but I think what Leauxra said should be printed out and put somewhere you can read it everyday.
    Don't beat yourself up for being human. No one could be a better mom to your kid than you.

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    1. thanks Tumbleweed, but damn...I do have my doubts!!

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  6. Oh Karen, I don't know what to tell you, love. Leauxra is right, it won't kill him, though it might be tough. But it could be a good experience. Without taking that risk, neither of you will ever know what he is capable of, if he just has a go.
    But I can so understand your fears. You are a wonderful mum, doing her absolute best for her boy, who she loves fiercely and completely. Jack knows that. xxxxx

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    1. It'll be different once he's there, Curtise, but his anticipatory anguish is always so bad. He's going to be crushed, and that's the worst part.

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  7. brooke's at camp this week for her first time & i'm slightly jealous that jack gets to go to spectrum camp rather than regular camp. that way, you know he'll be with people who understand him. brooke's just with some college students and a few hundred dirty kids who are eating too much sugar. it's good for them, even during the times they don't like it.
    a couple weeks ago, i heard someone say, "we don't grow as people when we're laughing. we grow when we're crying." and a part of me balked at the concept because i'm all about some laughing, but in the end i had to conclude that he was right. and rather than run from the crying times, i should accept them and know that growth will come of them. maybe our tears water the fruit of our future.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. thanks Sherilin. Somehow I imagine that sunshiny Brooke being happy though about camp. Jack will be miserable from beginning to end. Oh wait: first he'll be horrified, then terrified, then furious, then crushed, then resigned, then quietly tearful and pathetic. Oh, and maybe he'll nearly dance his way to camp thanks to all the wonderful tics he gets when he's anxious.

      Damn. Wait...bad attitude...read what Sherilinnie wrote again...

      Yeah, I hate tough love. We've been having the nicest summer yet so far too.

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    2. and maybe your summer will be even better once camp is over and he learns some fresh new coping skills that will improve all of your lives.
      brooke hasn't always been sunshiney. at all. but this is ranch camp, so there are lots of animals and that fits nicely with her obsession, so it's a good fit this time around. she's been happy, dirty and sugared up each night that i retrieved her. so far, so good.

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    3. ranch camp! That sounds very idyllic. How did you find it? I'm glad she's having fun!

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  8. No advice, but you are so right about it just sneaking up on you. I'm all, "We are kicking autism's ass today!" And then autism is like, "You are mistaken, madam. Karate chop to the face."

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    1. thank you Sanstrousers. That actually made me smile. Karate chop to the face indeed!

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  9. Your fantasy may never come true if you don't send him... can you get your money back if he really really hates it once he's there? Then he's back to doing his own thing. God, you put up with so much, you're amazing!

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    1. yeah, damn it, you're right Miss Simmonds. If he really really really hates it, I will just rescue him from it.

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  10. Aw man, bless your heart!

    I have no advice to give. I did, however, work for a year with Autistic children through a performing arts program. At first a lot of them hated it, but some of the ones that were most upset grew to love it, so perhaps Jack will too?

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    1. I hope so Vesta!!! Thank you for the encouraging story. It actually helped.

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  11. Or... maybe you can get a schedule for the camp ahead of time and if he really really hates it, try only 1/2 days. They have to be used to this. Is there some sort of super duper fabulous reward that you can offer to Jack and then use the paper chain to count down to the end of camp?

    Regardless of the issue, all of us parents do it. I made Adam take a reading class on Sundays for 8 weeks, in the SUMMER. He was furious. Ryan had to participate in 20 2 hour classes for reading this summer - the tantrums were horrible. Ryan just finished his class and now I am taking a day off of work to take him to the waterpark. We all want our kids to be the best they can be.

    Now for the part you didn't talk about. Can you get a babysitter for Ella while you take Jack to camp so you're only focusing on 1 child? I see an opportunity for you to put on your professional mom costume and work the parental crowd. What a resource of knowledge of what's available in your area and how to get it to work for you!

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    1. Lisa, what I find amazing are these situations I run into where I too think "they must be used to this," and then they're not! Like years ago when I took Jack to this toddler story time group at an early year's centre, and Jack knocked over his dixie cup of juice. The woman there acted like she was at a loss--like it had never happened before, and they didn't have any paper towels handy.

      And in this case, when I told the woman on the phone that Jack would be freaked (will be freaked) when I told him about camp, she was all surprised.

      I don't have a lot of faith in these things.

      However, I'll be taking him all next week, and I'll stick around and see how it goes.

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  12. Its an Autism Spectrum disorder camp...they will know how to deal with Jack...thats what he is there for right? the days leading up to it will be a bit rough, as the fear of the unknown is lerking...i get that.
    I just know that you both will get through it, as you always do! I know its hard.

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    1. yeah, thanks Steph. I guess we'll make it through, but man--it's going to be a looooooooong week.

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  13. Karen....good to meet you and thanks for following on Ocean Breezes.

    One of these days because of your daring persistence and love for your son. He will meet a person/realization , an idea will click in his head, and he'll take the next cautionary step towards some independence for himself. It is because of your knowing that you HAVE to expose him to all these 'dreadful' things that he WILL learn to accept them calmly and eventually. You are doing what a concerned parent ought to be doing. Don't hold your breath, breathe easily and move forward.
    So good to be here.
    Jim

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    1. It's good to meet you too, Jim!

      Thank you for your thoughtful words. They gave me much to ponder, and they did help.

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  14. Yeah, you know I have no good advice, only stupid rhymes and petticoats and they never cured a cold.

    You love that little guy and you are tough on yourself and I have no idea what it's like to be you but I do know that I like you an awful lot and I would eat one of your peanut butter and jam sandwiches any day of the week.

    There. That was helpful. You're welcome.

    Sarah xxx

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  15. thanks Sarah. I'd make you those pb&j's on gluten-free bread. SNIFF!

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