Moving on… and letting go: Summer Camp, University, and the Twitterscene

I have been using Twitter lately. If you follow my blog – you likely already know this. However, I feel like I have been sort of sucked into the twittering away of my time. The lure is so strong. I love the connections I am making with others and the amazing parents and professionals I am meeting with similar thoughts, struggles, strategies, and dreams. However, I feel I must work to balance this with my real passion – I want to be writing – and this has been somewhat neglected of late.

Here is a post from a while back – that I didn’t feel got to its finish. I’ve published 50 posts thus far for this 30 Days of Autism project of mine, and I have 29 or so more posts on the go. I work like that: kind of lateral-sequential, or logical-eclectic, or ???

So if you will stay with me on this… follow my thread, I will meander through my lately learnings about letting-go – be it a new Twitter habit – or other more critical aspects of my world.

May 27, 2011 

This week I experienced the letting go that a parent has to do in two different but similar ways.

The first was that this week my daughter graduated. The pleasure of attending Nika’s Commencement Ceremony is combined with the understanding that this also brings us one step closer to the inevitable move that is coming in September: she has been accepted to a university on the East Coast. This is so wonderful for her, and I am gushing with pride. Still a part of me feels she might as well be on the moon.

I wrote in her card:

“Well beautiful girl here we are at he end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Beginnings and endings are always so intertwined and so are the feelings that go with them. I have great faith in your strength and kindness and willingness to work hard. You are an amazing young woman and I love you so much.”

The second letting-go is that we registered H for summer camp. He has wanted to go to camp for some time, but I didn’t really trust him in the hands of others for a full week. The unknowns were too overwhelming, and the gains for this child are too hard won to risk being sacrificed to an ill-advised plan.

Fortunately a parent of a child I sometimes work with gave me a decidedly overdue nudge. She was telling me about this wonderful camp her older son attended and she said, “Leah… just call the number and find out about it…”  She has nudged me before, this wonderful woman, and I have never been led astray!

I did call the camp, designed for children with invisible disabilities, then I talked to Craig- then I called City Mouse’s Mom, and passed on the nudge. Both boys are now registered for summer camp and they will be going together!

Interestingly, this is as far as I got when I was first tackling this post. At times I find it hard to write if I haven’t worked through some of the processing around an issue or an event. Writing about the separation from both of my children was unsettling, and I just wasn’t ready to delve in deeper.

Today – this delving in could no longer be avoided. Today was the day that H was going to summer camp for the first time in his life… for a full week… with his best friend (aka: City Mouse- see http://30daysofautism.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/perspectives-on-friendship-and-other-ability-country-mouse-and-city-mouse/). Honestly, it couldn’t get any better than that!

I have been increasingly distracted, anxious, and jittery over the past couple of days, and according to some people, possibly even a bit grouchy (names withheld to protect the innocent). Of course I did not convey my anxiety to H. He has enough of this without my layering on additional concerns, and over the years I have become a master at disguising this. I think this is one of the things that parents of children with challenges such as mine learn to do. It is part of the control we learn – to rein in ourselves a bit, so that we can help our child rein in the world, as they make their way and work through their own responses and emotions. It’s just like: one less thang!

H awoke sharing “This is the best thing that ever happened to me.” H was so excited this morning! He was even accompanied by his own Star Wars theme as he was making his bed and helping with the last minute preparations. He lacked focus for his morning routine and the extra tasks the day required, but he certainly did not lack enthusiasm.

Dah…dadadadaadaaaadadadadaaa...” drifted kitchen-ward from his tornado-struck robot-strewn room, and I had to smile.

However, as I write this, I can’t help but recall the dinner time conversation back in May when we talked with H about going to camp. He was excited then as well. He squealed in joy! Yes my 12-year-old boy squealed, then added incredulously: “You mean I get to go to camp    like   a    normal    kid!

What!?! AHHHHHHHGGGG!! OMG!!!

Even now this makes me tear up, so that it is hard to see the screen as I scribe this little tale. Like a normal kid?!? I was shocked that H would say this! We would never talk in this way or model this kind of thinking. It serves as a useful reminder that children like mine are aware of their differences, and perhaps it’s another nudge to consider my level of protectiveness and the unspoken messages my child, any child, might read from this.

If I was unsure about the camp experience for my child, perhaps teetering on the edge of is this a good idea? this statement alone would have clinched it. My kid is ready for summer camp!

As we were driving to the bus I bit back all the last minute things I wanted to instill in my child – just a few more gems to help him navigate social. We instead talked about how proud we were of H, what a good time he was going to have, and how he was going to be able to hang with City Mouse, and make new friends.

Ahh… I’m letting go…

We checked in to the pick up point and H unloaded his stuff from the car. A pretty and very enthusiastic camp counselor greeted us, introduced herself, and asked H’s name.

She queried, “Do you want a hand with your stuff?

No thanks, I can handle it...” huffing and struggling…

Yes, young man, I thought, I believe you can!

When H saw City Mouse, they hugged, and immediately began to discuss things of great importance. I think we almost could have walked away right then and it wouldn’t have been noticed.

H said to City Mouse, “I have always wanted to have you for my brother. This week we will be brothers…” Some back and forth talk followed, and they both agreed that this would be amazing. Then H glanced over at his friend and slyly added, “Ya… Brothers without Mo-thers!! Oh Yaa!”

Oh dear!!

I talked to a couple of  the other parents, as did Craig. All of us seemed to be holding back a bit… stepping slightly aside to let our guys do for themselves. They were so excited. I am not sure how it happened but the two boys connected with two other boys and the four were actively engaged in conversation.

Excuse me… but that just doesn’t seem to happen for my kid. It was like the connection with City Mouse X3. I think they were seriously engaged in discussion about which version of Laura Croft Tomb Raider was the best- and who had the game and on what kind of system. They were in heaven!

H and City Mouse sat together on the bus. They were seated with a third boy, a different one… Before they even left I could see the trio happily engaged and discussing H’s Star Wars graphic novel.

Such a positive start- brought tears to my eyes!! Amazing!!

It is interesting that the Chinese symbol for risk/danger is the same as the symbol for opportunity. I will keep this with me – the power and opportunity of letting-go as I navigate my way through reining in the temptation of the Twitterscene and maintaining my focus and goals. I still have to talk myself through the fall, and Nika heading off to pursue her dreams! Well… one step at a time… I think I will just work on enjoying the summer!

____________________________________________________________

30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2011)

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About Leah Kelley

Leah Kelley, MEd., Educator, Parent, Speaker, Social Justice Activist. Writes blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding & neurodiversity. Co producer of documentary: Vectors of Autism. Twitter: @leah_kelley Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/leahkelley13/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/30-Days-of-Autism-Leah-Kelley/154311301315814
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2 Responses to Moving on… and letting go: Summer Camp, University, and the Twitterscene

  1. solodialogue says:

    What a lovely post about letting go! It seems to really have gone a wonderful way for H! So glad that he is able to do such an important part of growing up at the right time and all that socialization is fantastic!! Makes me very hopeful for the future. Congrats on your daughter’s graduation – very bittersweet, I’m sure. It seems you held off on this one til just the right time. :)

  2. Leah Kelley says:

    Thank you for your comment!
    I know from your blog that your little guy is only five and was diagnosed with ASD just a little over a year ago. That was similar to us – now so long ago. It seems like yesterday when H was 5. I am pleased if this post can make you feel hopeful for the future. There is so much to be hopeful for. To give you a little perspective, when H was your son’s age, his approach to new peers on the playground was to growl and possibly chase them. (Luckily – he had cute working for him.) Needless to say, his overtures usually succeeded in scaring away potential playmates, and it was impossible for him to read whether or not they liked being chased. After this he would invariably make his way to a solo activity, or we would be the crazy parents playing on the playground with our child. We were skilled enough that we could sometimes be the link for other children to show some interest in H. Jump forward to age 12: last week he schooled me in social interaction, about how it wasn’t cool to say “Hi” to new kids – apparently now you have to say “Yo”!!!

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