Monday, June 10, 2013

Day camp time again

He asks again and again.  Not every time we go to therapy at the BARC, but from time to time.

You will go to day camp!

I assure him that he will.  First or second week of June, buddy.  No problem.  

And of course it's not a problem.  Thankfully we're to a point where affording the sixty-ish dollars and gas money to get there isn't a major deal anymore, so all I have to do is get the forms to the right people at the right time and we're golden.  

So this morning we left around eight, armed with sunblock and clothes he could get messy.  Thankfully, they were armed as well... with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and grad students who were excited to spend the day playing with and, of course, chasing and engaging these kids.  

It's the same scene every year.  The parents who are vets at this and either have figured out that their kids will be just great here and look relaxed, the parents who are still nervous but have worked on their poker face, and the dear ones with that deer-in-the-headlights look.  You just can't help but think that some of them are in the process of receiving a diagnosis and are learning... and falling from... the ropes, just like you do.

Our guy buzzed around and half-bulldozed his way to one of his newest and fiercest loves, drawing with chalk.  Half our summer budget will likely go to chalk and dry-erase markers... well mostly markers, seeing as he won't put the caps back on without a great deal of goading.

Here he is, gettin' his elevator drawing on... not sure how a car wash is an elevator, but he insisted.  Wishing I could see the picture in his head, I agreed.

When I left, one of his counselors had realized the fun way that he's not into large groups of people.  She was handing it with grace, as I've known these students to do, so I walked on to the van.  

I had a surprise to deliver.  

These weeks of day camp are for Ryan, but they're also for Richie and Maelynn.  

These kids spend so much of their time going to and from and sitting through therapy sessions both away and at home, and during this week, I like to try to let them taste a little of the things we don't do because it's too hard for brother.  

A rare trip to the Mayborn Museum, something brother will get to do with the camp later in the week, was on the slate for the morning.  After a couple of little hitches, we were on our way! 

We went from room to room, checking out every last thing we could see or touch.  We walked on the mammoth site, went through the cave exhibit, the forests, and ironically enough, the traveling fear exhibit.  They got to do something tremendous... they were able to just be kids, romping through a museum designed to take them placed they'd never been.  

As we walked and explored, and even tonight, Richie has begged to go back. He wants to go there "a lot a lot a lot more times, maybe even tomorrow!"  

And I was stuck someplace between jumping for joy that Richie loved it, and wanting to cry because it's so hard for his brother.  

Sometimes I just wish we could jump in the car and do stuff like this.  I had a ball watching Maelynn and Richie have a ball, but there was something missing.  

My heart aches to be able to do things like this with Ryan. With our whole family.  

The last two times he's been there, it didn't end well.  Lots of screaming.  All he would do is stare at the model train exhibit, which just so happens to be the first thing in the children's end.  Trains and an elevator... what more could he want?  It's fun for the first little while or so.  Then a little kid wants to look, too.  Then he starts getting possessive.  

And that's when, with much screaming and hitting of chest, ears, legs, and whatever else he can reach, it ends.  

There comes a point when knowing that your child will beat himself silly when he has to stop doing something makes it not worth doing.  The screaming isn't fun, but watching him rare back and slap his chest with all his eighty pound might, over and over and over, fueled by a torrent of frustration, confusion, and anger...that's beyond "not fun."  

So I'll take Richie and Maelynn to do other random stuff that we just usually don't do, and Ryan will continue with day camp this week.  And we'll do all this enjoying each other, but missing him.  

We'll all be waiting for Thursday with anticipation, hoping that  maybe it will go well this time. Maybe I'll be able to go back and get that membership that allows us all to go whenever we want.  But if we can't... if he just isn't able to handle that yet... we tried. And we're grateful for a chance for brother to do something that is a treat for him while the littles get to do something that is a treat for them. But where one of us is missing from a family activity, we will always feel the space they leave. We always hurt over the gap.

We will love him for who he is. 

We will love them for who they are. 

And we will trust The Lord to bridge the gap, rejoicing in everything in our own way.

Thanks be to God, who is love, for bridging the gaps where it hurts the most, and for the obvious and not so obvious reasons to rejoice.

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