Why we wish Charlie's camp could last for one more week
21st Century Motherhood Looks Like This

Valleys and Mountains

As I type this, Charlie's summer camp is set to end in less than an hour. The last day's activity is a party complete with DJ. While we found him smiling and dancing the YMCA the first year of camp, the second year, his counselor called us to pick him up early as he was crying from the loudness. 

So far this year, this party, so good. Charlie has done his best ever at camp, staying almost until the end most days.

It is true that he didn't go on Monday after Sunday's 3am panic attack. Tuesday was a happy day from drop-off to pick-up. Wednesday he woke at 6am and demanded to go and then, when he was at camp, couldn't wait to swim with his group at 11am (so they let him swim early) and then, while calm, was not as much at ease and we, sensing this, picked him up early.

Wednesday at 8pm he had another big panic attack. There was no need to revisit the ER (where the doctor who cared for Charlie had done so last summer when he got staples in the back of his head; she recognized us). In the midst of another big clean-up of the lower floor of our house (which did result in a pretty thorough sweeping-out under one couch, a good thing) and thinking about how, without school, everything about Charlie's routine from how he spends his time to what he eats to what sensory experiences and stimuli he encounters is different and could all lead to one bellyful of a stomach ache -- we decided that it would be a good idea to ask my parents to visit.

They'll be out here soon (they were scheduled to leave this weekend to go on a big trip and cancelled the whole thing -- yes, I have super-great parents). I remembered that, when Charlie was younger, they used to always come out for a visit as summer was waning and he was home from school. Things have changed in the past few years and they haven't come but Charlie must have a deep memory of those times.

Certainly he smiled, after waking groggily on Thursday morning, when hearing that "Gong Gong and Po Po" are coming.

Actually, this has been a summer of predominantly smiles. The past week's panic attacks obviously have not been pretty. Still it is true that this has been a great summer with Charlie excelling: It's been valleys, sloughs and ditches. It's been mountains, peaks and a journey to the summit.

Among the things that got a bit mussed was Charlie's progress report from ESY: Zero self-injurious behaviors, zero aggressions and such challenging behaviors.

The camp does not have (as Charlie's school does) on-staff behaviorists, mats and other equipment and such. The counselor to camper ratio is not the 1:2 one at Charlie's school. He has (his counselor tells us) called for "Mommy Daddy" at times and then managed fine. On Thursday, a beautiful sunny blue sky day, the pool had to be closed for cleaning and Charlie was ok about it.

Without school and without camp, don't be surprised if you read about a bit of a maelstrom of the behavioral sort here; I'm playing phone tag with Charlie's neurologist about his medications. We've got just about three weeks to go before school starts and Jim and I start teaching before that. 

It's been, it is, a great summer all together.


M Kelter

glad to hear about Charlie's summer, that he is enjoying the camp, sounds like some terrific memories are being made. fingers crossed for the new school year, i'm sure the visit from your parents will ease his mind tremendously.

Kristina Chew

@M, great to hear from you! Hope you are well and that your summer has been good? -- it really seems to have eased Charlie's mind to know my parents are coming. Knowing him, there will be anxieties about their departure when they are here!

M Kelter

yes, from reading here over the years, that seems to be the trend any time your parents visit/depart. i'm always very moved by how intensely connected he feels to his loved ones. he's a young man with a very big heart, your descriptions are always touching.

Michele Sanchez Portland Maine

How wonderful to hear that Charlie had such great success and enjoyed this years summer camp experience!!!! Awesome and Terrific!! Thanks for sharing his triumph!!! Michele Sanchez - Portland, Maine

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