Monday, May 13, 2013

My baby went to camp today and I am a WRECK!

Ready to go!

Fifth grade camp. An amazing opportunity the kids in our district get to experience and look forward to from 1st grade on. When I sent Teenzilla, I was a little nervous, but she had already spent a week at Girl Scout camp, so she was ready to go, and I was pretty relaxed about sending her.

But The Boy is different. Not only does he have autism, he is MY BABY.  And in almost 11 years I have not been away from home for more than a weekend- and not even a full 48 hours so this is just as much about me as it is about him.  Today, The Boy is embarking on a journey that a lot of kiddos on the spectrum may not get a chance to do. Runners, non verbal, numerous medical issues may prevent a lot of kiddos with autism from being able to enjoy and be safe at a fully inclusive school week long camping trip.  I feel very blessed that The Boy is able to participate.

While I know in my heart he will thrive there I cannot help but have those crazy motherly instincts that drive all moms bonkers when they are away from their babies.

Am I excited for him to experience camp? Absolutely. Do I trust that  the teachers,staff and high school counselors will care for him, watch over him, and not let him near danger, and recognize when sensory overload is imminent ? Undoubtedly. Am I worried about  his very limited eating, sleeping in a bunk bed and group showering? Damn straight I am! Do I think he will come home singing fabulous songs, full of stories about his week away and be tired and smelly? I expect it.  

But I am a mom, and I worry. I worry that he may not like certain activities. I worry that he will get homesick, I worry that he will feel alone.  These are all irrational fears, I know. I have sent a kid away to camp- and she was well taken care of. The Boy will be well taken care of, too. He is bunking with some buddies from football, who found him right away this morning to get on the bus. He was smiling,and excited. There weren't any tearful second thoughts, hanging on to me or dad and refusing to let go, not one, single, concern.  That may change tonight- his first night away from home, a strange place, a different routine, but the teachers and counselors are all aware and assured me they will make the transitions as easy as possible. And even though they discourage calls home- if he really really needs to hear my voice- they will let him call home.  That eases my worry, if only a little bit.

This experience will put him in an environment where he was required to be more independent, work with his neurotypical peers in a setting completely different from school, or the football field.  It will hopefully help him to gain confidence in his own abilities, the fact that he can live without screens and be a bonding experience with other kids that will be a big help when they go to middle school next year. 

I am a nervous wreck. My mind is alternating between the worst and best case scenarios, trying hard to concentrate on the best. His smiling, excited face and declaration of "I am so excited to go to camp!" are definitely keeping my emotions in check- I didn't even cry too much when they left!  And I am reciting "No news is good news" over and over in my head- because that is a solid truth I can be confident in. 

This week away is a huge learning experience, for us both. It is sure to fly by, before I know it, it will be Friday and The Boy will be home. I can't wait!
Happy and excited!