Friday, July 25, 2008
Ben just finished the last day of his very first camp. To say it was a success would be a gross understatement. It was an enrichment camp which means that it was developed and run by a recreational therapist from a local hospital. The camp staff was made up of a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a speech therapist with a whole mess of college age volunteers that are all majoring in some sort of pediatric therapy. To top it off, the camp is for kids of varying ability who where not receiving therapy over the summer. In short a whole bunch of kids just like Ben. When we walked into camp the first day Ben immediately saw adults that he recognised from his former therapy department and he was greeted with huge hugs, smiling faces and a really cool project to get started on. I was dragging my feet, not sure about letting my baby go, he just gave me a "See you later mom." and would have booted my out the door if he wasn't so busy. As I was walking out I saw two other little guys walking in and they walked just like Ben! I never see kids that walk like Ben. It seems that I was not the only one surprised because the next day I spoke to two other mama's who said that they called their spouses to tell them that there were kids who walked just like theirs. One of the kids lives about 1/2 hour away (not bad) but the other lives right down the street form me! How do we miss each other in this shrinking world? Our boys are even riding in the same bike program, just at different times. Seriously, how have we not met? Anyway, Ben came home the first day just bubbling over. So many activities to share, so many songs to sing. They even had a music guys there and he had a little guitar for every child to play. It was like a dream come true for Ben. The boy spent one day, one day with kids just like him and came out of his shell more than I have seen, well, ever in 24 hours. No pressure, no explanations needed, just freedom to play and learn and grow. He didn't even mention any therapy because he didn't notice it. I'm telling you, it was amazing. How do you describe the sight of weight lifting from a burdened child's shoulders? He was free. I wish this sort of experience for every child with challenges. A freedom from their differences. Heck I wish it for all of us, everyone. I only wish it could be every day, forever.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I am a social person. If fact, we are a pretty social family. I get somber when I am on my own and can't wait to swap stories about the day with friends and family. I am however, a grown up and can find all sorts of ways to offset the feeling of solitude. When Ben is alone, you can almost see the words lonesome on his face. It tears at my heart to see him feeling alone, left out, left behind, excluded, overlooked...So I do my darnedest to keep that look off of his face.
We had two situations occur within a week of of each other that encapsulated five years of experience. They were something like the Cliffs Notes on Ben's story of isolation.
The first happened at a local summer festival. We were just arriving and I caught sigh of a family that we met at the Therapeutic Riding barn. Mom, dad and two boys right about Ben and Kiera's age. Their oldest has CP and uses a wheelchair. It was one of those things that judging from the direction they were moving it was pretty likely that we were in their sight line. Figuring that they just didn't recognise us, I ventured over with Ben to say "hi". While I was reintroducing us, three other families joined the group, each family had a child in a wheelchair. The four other families said hello to each other and just as if an invisible wall fell from the sky, we were shut out. I could actually feel the push. So we stepped back toward the group we were with and there we were, caught in the middle with no where to go. Pushed out of a group Ben often feels more comfortable with yet not able to join in with our group of kids who were tearing in and out of the crowd. He was alone.
The second happened when we were camping. We had just arrived and put up the new camper. Ben and Kiera were so excited and ready to play. They couldn't wait to get on their new scooters. We found a scooter that Ben can balance and take little scooting steps. Very cool, whole other post. So there we were ready to give it a try, we made it past the camper toward the road and Ben stopped dead in his tracks. What he saw were four families of kids racing back and forth on bikes and scooters. Kids as young as Kiera on two wheelers and Razors. He wouldn't budge while he watched them tearing up and down the road. He actually stood stock still for about two minutes (a really long time when you're the mama and the seconds are ticking by as loud as thunder) then stepped off of his scooter. He turned to me and said "Can I go into the camper now please." Unable to make his body work the way he knows that it should and not yet willing to let go and play with us, the ones that don't care. Alone. Again.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Kiera- "So Mama, you see the thing is Ben was tired and so he went to bed. But I was hungry so I'm gonna eat my bagel with you and Daddy then I go to bed. OK?" Use your imagination to put one hand on her hip and one had out front holding her imaginary tray and make sure you add her head bobbing around too. Kiera-"Well Mama, you need to wait cause I am going potty first. And then you help me and then you go potty" (imagine LOTS of sass) Me-"Kiera, I am waiting for you to finish because you are already on the potty. Next time you can speak to me kindly. You really don't need to tell me what to do. I'm pretty good at waiting my turn. You're not in charge of everything." Kiera-"But Mama, when do I get to be in charge?" Me-"When you grow up and have your own kids, then you get to be in charge." Not my proudest parenting moment but who expects to be quizzed on this stuff by a two year old! Kiera-"OK, nigh, nigh Ben. I love you. You sleep type and stay in bed. You call me if you need me. Sweet dreams." Ben-"I need you Kiewa!" Kiera-"Mom, did you know Ben's my best friend." Sigh...
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Dave and I love to camp. Always have. It is just one of those things that we agreed on from the very beginning. We have been camping for the last few summers with the kids and have been wrestling with the idea of a pop-up camper for about four years. A few weeks ago we went camping with some dear friends and their kids. They have a pop up. We made it through one evening. Then these came rolling in
I'm so excited! (I know I'm a sell out dork, but I'll be dry!)
and it rained and hailed then rained and hailed some more. Then our campsite looked like this.
Needless to say we spent a lot of time in their pop-up.
We had lot's of fun anyway
but it definitely was the trip that pushed us over the edge. Soooo...Months of research and a darn lot of luck and now we have this
I'm so excited! (I know I'm a sell out dork, but I'll be dry!)