August 20, 2013 by Marj Hatzell
Previously, on as the Domestic Goddess turns…
Bug Boy went to camp. A camp for kids who sometimes have a little difficulty navigating the social world. Not all of the kids were autistic but the camp had small groups, tons of support and was run like a “typical” camp in the sense that they had traditional activities and experiences just like a “typical” camp. He wanted THIS PARTICULAR CAMP because he wanted to go to a camp that specialized in kids just like him. He chose (HE CHOSE IT) over a “typical camp” because he wanted to be comfortable, to be able to be himself, without the pressure of fitting in. The day before camp, as we packed, Bug Boy nearly broke my heart when he said, “I’m really hoping I find someone just like me, mom.” And even though he has some very good friends here, he was feeling a bit isolated this summer. A bit like an alien. Ah, Puberty. Thanks for that.
Top that off with the anxiety starting seventh grade in exactly two weeks? Now you have a glimpse of how AWESOME our summer has been.
I was thrilled when I found out about the camp, mentioned it to the husband and we thought it would be perfect for him. We were worried we’d have to “sell” it to him, however. Sometimes Bug Boy is all AUTISM. I’VE GOT THIS. And sometimes he’s all MY BROTHER’S AUTISM IS DRIVING ME INSANE. We work dilligently on acceptance. We’ve tried our best to teach him to accept EVERYONE as they are, regardless of his personal feelings, regardless of his own background. It hasn’t always been easy, because he’s the kind of kid that picks up a slight difference and points it out. Not to be mean, just as an observer. He’s a very, very detail-oriented kid. We can’t sneak anything by him. I guess you could say we were a little worried that he’d go to camp, proud of his own uniqueness but be all ZOMG YOU ARE SO AUTISTIC to someone else. And we knew he wouldn’t mean to be insulting but we also know he can be a leeeetle black and white sometimes.
But camp. How did it go?
On the day we were to pick him up, I sensed he would have appreciated us signing him up for the second session so he could stay. We did look into it. But we couldn’t swing it money-wise in such short notice because we have that whole structural beam issue with our house (you know, the one that holds the whole house up? Yeah, we should probably use the money to fix that). We went to pick him up and he was less than enthused to see us and a bit melty-downy, really. We, of course, realized it was the “re-entry” into home life, after a week of total independence and time away from his family. For his first time ever.
We drove away after saying our good byes and collecting his rather, uh, fragrant gear. A mile or two down the road we stopped for gas and some beverages. After a trip to the bathroom we settled back into the car and he immediately started his Rain Man routine. We got a play-by-play synopsis of every minute of camp. In order. Including the temperature, the placement of the sun in the sky, what he ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of camp, what he wore, and what he did at each down time or art time. I mean, every. Single. Detail. Because THAT is Bug Boy. Detail-oriented!
Then he was quiet for a second. He suddenly piped up, “Oh, and by the way, guys, I’m TOTALLY GOING BACK THERE NEXT YEAR.” And with that he flipped open his book and snuggled down for the ride home. The Guy I Live With and I looked at each other, smiled, and exhaled. We had been bracing ourselves all week for THE STATEMENT. Would he like it? Would he “fit in?” Would he stand out or would other kids “bother” him and he’d get in arguments? Would he be able to sleep? Would he love us for sending him or dub us “Worst Parents in the World” for the MEELIONTH time?
That quick comment said it all. Totally going. TOTALLY. GOING. He loved it. And I can’t wait for next year.