Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Life Cycles and Summer Camp

During the last days of 1st grade, Leo talked compared his life to the life cycle of the butterfly. He explained that he wanted to "start over as a chrysalis and go back to Kindergarten and 1st grade again" with his same teacher that he's pining over. Indeed, he was sad his time with 1st grade was over. Finally, he's happy that he's going to be a 2nd grader, and now appreciates his summer time off.

I was thinking about this while waiting in line to drop off Sydney (2 1/2 years younger than Leo) at that very same camp Leo did for years. That learning environment - so critical for his success. That foggy chronic blur of anxiety that lasted forever it seemed. And here I am again, like the butterfly, with Syd. Here she is, her rite of passage, ready to bound out of the car, Care Bears back pack, ready for her day in the sprinklers.

I look in front of me and get a wave from Caleb, a fellow ASD child that is in Leo's former shoes. He's anonymous like Leo, and his mom is in that mood state I know only too well.

For the first time, Caleb is going to camp BY HIMSELF. We celebrate! But, I get a wave of nausea, and after a couple minutes it passes. It's just as hard, you get to this point and now you don't have all the information you are accustomed to - a beautiful full page of notes. You have nothing but faith and your child to count on that all is well.

Leo and Caleb's former shadow, Laurie, is behind me in HER car, waiting to park - we exchange a nod. She's been coming here for years now, and today she begins with Brian. Laurie is a butterfly too. I wonder what she's thinking as she smiles at Leo who is hanging out the window talking to some kids. She spent all that time with him, she knows him so well. And ditto for Caleb. And here she's starting over with Brian.

I see all of these cars with people that have a different life than mine, Caleb, and Brian's. They are in the dark about what's really going on with some families - the struggle, all that stuff we all know too well. Yet, here we are, peppered all over the parking lot of this camp. All over town, all over the world, going about our day, no one the wiser.

Each day continues to be a gift. Leo's smile, his confidence, his desire to do things, to learn, to put himself out there. This reminder, although bittersweet, is a necessity - I don't want to ever forget.

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