Omar, my oldest started camp today. As we arrived, I couldn’t help but feel that pain and bitterness that creeps up on me from time to time. It tries to steal my joy. Lucas can never just be dropped off at summer camp… he needs far too much special one to one supervision and help and breaks, and just the right person who can understand him. These “normal” experiences you expect to have as a mom. I won’t have them the way I thought for Lucas. That is OK. But sometimes it gets the best of me.
As we walked up to Omar’s camp, I felt the anxiety building. How will Lucas handle this drop off? Will he freak out at the new step added to his morning routine? Will he freak out that it overwhelms his senses, or start kicking and screaming to go to a part of the building we aren’t allowed to go to? Will it cause a scene? Will the people here understand or make things worse for us? I breathe. Lucas is in my arms as I squeeze him a bit to settle him, with his face tucked safely into my neck.
We get into the camp check-in room. Lots of kids and noise. Lucas tucks his face in deeper to my neck. This is far better than I pictured as he is staying content to be squeezing me and burying himself in me. I run through a long list of check in matters, as his squeezes are almost choking me, all the while knowing I’m on a ticking clock of a meltdown, if we stay too long.
Lucas hates greetings.
The check-in person luckily doesn’t try to force a hello out of Lucas, but instead notes his behavior and asks, “shy or sleepy?”
“Autistic,” I reply, hoping the conversation ends there.
Hoping this ends his attempts to interact with Lucas, because I know stirring Lucas up at this moment won’t go well.
We made it back to the car with only a small little battle about Lucas wanting to go to the playground. Every morning I will have to check in Omar and hope Lucas doesn’t have a meltdown during the process. Maybe tomorrow I’ll let him use the playground, if it isn’t wet, for a few minutes. But no matter how you look at it, everything has changed for our family. Nothing is simple. Anxiety is part of everything. Meltdowns can happen at any moment. Because he is autistic. Overall, drop-off was a great success! And I am glad for that, but sometimes, I need to just feel what I feel. A little bitter over the way autism makes simple things such a big deal. But also, it’s a blessing, that such simple things are worthy of such celebration for us. We can appreciate all the small things in a way we never even considered before. And that is a blessing.
In the car afterwards, Lucas kicks his shoes off deciding he is angry about the color and the fit of the ones I chose for him that day. We get to ABA, and the summer schedule has changed his Tuesday morning therapist. He isn’t happy at all. I leave him staring at me through the glass, yelling at the therapist, “but move out of my way!” They lock the doors so he can’t escape and I know that staying there won’t help the drop off go any smoother, so I head back to my car, praying he gets over it quickly, and that the new therapist figures out quickly how to reach my son’s world. I know this sounds harsh, but they will “pair” and be able to work together smoothly, but this is how it is when things are changed for him. It breaks my heart, but I know he will be ok. They will pair. And if they don’t, we have a meeting about how to make things better.
Two totally different experiences. Hard not to compare. Hard not to wish they were both on a path that was as easy as each other. But, I know the Lord has equipped me to be the best advocate I can for both, and to love them both with my full heart. That is the best I can do for each of them. And in the hardest moments, I know, that when I pick them both up, they get the most beautiful gleam of joy in their eyes when they see me. That is the reward that keeps me going. That reminds me I am doing something right.