For the third night in a row, Charlie struggled to go to sleep. Or rather, he just seemed to have no inclination to sleep at all. He was cheerful, watched Gong Gong and Po Po make pans of paper-wrapped chicken, paced the floor where he had set his iPad down, smiled and sometimes just stood and listened.
Tuesday he really did not fall asleep till almost 3am; nonetheless, he woke grinning (albeit a bit late) and had a great day at school, his teacher wrote.
It quite goes without saying that Charlie is experiencing, or acting on, whatever he's feeling about me going for the third year in a row to Greece for over a week. The big difference from last year is that he is so very peaceful easy-feeling and, for the most part, able to work himself through and out of bouts of anxiety. Having managed all right in my absence for the past two years, he must know that he can 'survive the 'Mom in Greece' experience.'
I spent a bit of time yesterday making a social story about 'Mom in Greece 2011' on Charlie's iPad and a similar story (using PowerPoint---it's very heavy on photos with minimal text) that I emailed to Charlie's teacher. Last year, I took photos of myself at each place we visited and I've used those in both stories. I'm also planning, as I have for the past two years, to post photos and updates on this blog and Charlie's teacher and Jim and my parents will be showing those to him---so far, Charlie seems to prefer the static medium of photos rather than something like Skype with a videocam. He is never one to talk on the phone, keeping exchanges to 'hi mom bye mom.'
Going on this trip has become a testament to how tight a team o' three Jim, Charlie, and I are. I'm so very proud that they, along with my parents, have been quite fine (ok, with the occasional 'excitement' as that detailed in an email Jim sent me after I was away one day last year that opened with words to the effect of 'well, we're all doing great now and how are you? yes your mom is cooking dinner and Charlie is watching. we all went with Charlie on a walk after school and on it......'). It is not easy to relinquish the role of ever-present mother/Chief Botherer and sure, as they say, 'I need a break' being Charlie's primary caregiver and all but still: Once a mother always a mother?
I'm excited and sad as this trip begins. A faculty colleague from my college (she went last year, too) was to go but she has a family emergency so it will be my students and me on this trip. I just hope things are all right for her. I'm anticipating some adventures thogh, having been so long a member of the tight team o' three, I have gotten used to adventure happening soon as you step foot out the door; soon as you wake up to another day in autismland.
And adventuring-in-autism-or-disability-land training is really life training, is it not?
Certainly it is training enough for traveling through Greece with nine students.