While driving DC and his friend to their first day of camp this summer; hearing her giggle in the back seat and watching DC “happy stim” in the front seat – both so excited to get to camp to see their “Camp Friends” again, I thought about the post I wrote last summer on their first day.
A year later, I feel exactly the same way. They were so excited to go and I felt sad that they can no longer spend their summer at camp as they used to because they are adults, out of the school system and in a work program. They have to use their vacation time to be able to attend camp for a couple of weeks every summer.
DC has attended this camp since he was 5. At first only a couple of days a week, with support because he was non-verbal at the time, and then when I noticed that he was much more responsive and receptive on the days he attended this camp than the days he attended the “main-stream” camp, I decided to let him attend 5 days a week. Because DC would rather just sit and read a book than get involved, and this, of course is easier for the main- stream staff, that was what they let him do. My reason for sending him to camp in the first place was to keep him occupied and involved, so he did not regress during the summer months. The main-stream camps were not providing enough support to keep him from regressing. They weren’t making an attempt to get him involved with any of the activities, whereas this camp did.
My intention today was to write a new post about the first day of camp, but after re-reading last years post I discovered that there was nothing different about the feelings I had last year and the feelings I have right now. I thought I would be used to “adulthood” at this point.
It turns out that I am not……
From July 2013 – We can’t have it both ways…. but it’s still a little bit sad.
Today was my son’s first day attending day camp this summer. He has attended this camp since he was 5 – he’s 22 now.
Every summer he was able to attended camp all summer long, even staying after until 8pm for a special after camp program they hold twice a week. He loves it there.
Now that he’s 22 and aged out of the school system, he is in a work program, year round. When I started looking at programs for him I was shocked that they didn’t get the summers off!
Of course they don’t, they are adults and have to do their job every day, just like we do. But it was a rude awakening for me at the time.
Everything changes after “school-age”. He’s aged out of Challengers baseball. Seventeen years of baseball….over. No more February vacations, Spring Vacations or Summer vacations. He’s “working” now, with 3 weeks’ vacation, holidays and some sick days, just like everyone else. This was probably the hardest transition for me so far. I have to think to call “work”, “work” and not “school”. It takes a minute, when I panic that I haven’t set up anything for February vacation – to realize that there is no February vacation any more. Becoming an Adult may actually be harder on me that it is on him. It’s just such a huge change.
Yes, I know we are moving into adulthood and working toward independence; as much independence as his capabilities will allow. Yes, I know this was the goal all along, but on the other hand, he’s still so much a child. He’s still watching “Barney” (22 years of Barney! That’s a Support Group I need to form, anybody?), he’s still reading and watching Disney and is not embarrassed to hug and kiss his Mom. On some level, for me, as much as I always work and hope for more progress, I love it, it’s nice.
This should be a happy time, and of course it is. He is an adult. He is in a program that he loves, but when summer comes around and it’s time for Camp to start, it’s a little bit sad that he doesn’t get to spend a fun filled, happy-go-lucky summer at camp as he used to. He only gets his two weeks.
Because…..he’s an adult now………
On the one hand it seems early to be thinking of my 9-year-old’s adulthood, and on the other I know it will happen more quickly than I can imagine. This is why I love reading about older kids and their successes and challenges, because it give me knowledge to help prepare my son and myself.
Thank you for this great post! Looking forward to reading more!
Thank you for reading. It IS a whole different ball game but in some areas it is just the same. It’s hard to think ahead when you are dealing with the here and now, but I wish I knew more about this stage when he was younger. It was sort of shell shock after school age, more decisions, more paperwork, so many changes to get used to. Again, thanks for reading.
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