When you have a challenging, out of the box, G2e child who has never really fit in anywhere and who has been called “the most complex child I’ve ever seen in my life” by countless teachers and therapists and doctors and counselors…the victories earned in traditional society are so much sweeter. Sweet like that first sip of water that stays down after an all-night stomach flu puke-fest. There is nothing sweeter than that first sip, and there is nothing sweeter than finally seeing my 15 year old challenging, out of the box, G2e son grow into the man he is meant to be.
Last week was summer camp week. For me, that meant I had five glorious days of the boys out of the house. Granted, I gave some flute lessons and had things to do, but gone was the guilt that the boys were glued to screens while I tried to meet deadlines and goals. For the boys, however, it was a week of being out of the house, sans screens. Cue evil maternal laughter. Jack was at a traditional day camp, grumbling all the way, and Andy was an intern with Camp Invention.
Camp Invention. The maker camp that started it all. Nine years ago Andy first attended a Camp Invention and fell in love with the maker culture. Take stuff apart and see how it works and build new stuff and this does that and that does this and this is the best thing EVER!!!!! Fast forward to today and now we have a basement full of half-dead computers, logic boards, cords, zip ties, nuts, bolts, hardware, software, and the Ark of the Covenant. Please refrain from opening it, my homeowners insurance doesn’t cover face-melting.
So from a first grader heading off to a day long camp (where I did do a happy dance, because he would be gone all day and I could get a break from the intensity) to an intern in nine short years. He was excited at first, to get to return to the camp that he loved, and then…not so much. I don’t know what flipped, but suddenly he was worried and resistant and wanted to back out.
I, being the loving and caring mother that I am, said HELL TO THE ABSOLUTE NO.
And I made him follow through.
Tom and I had a laugh at his expense the first night.
“Mom! I’m in charge of nineteen kids (rising 4th-6th graders)! And two counselors-in-training (rising 7th graders)! I just…you have no idea!”
Dear son, you just said this to two former band directors, who had classes starting at 30 and going way, WAY up from there. Nineteen kids and two young assistants? No pity here, just a hearty laugh.
Midweek he had an epiphany thrust upon him.
“Mom! The counselors-in-training just don’t listen or pay attention! They (something something something I wasn’t listening or paying attention because I was trying so, so hard to keep a concerned and straight face…I didn’t make it)!!!”
Uh-huh. Didn’t listen. Didn’t pay attention. Made a mess. Golly gee whillikers sounds like a wee bit of karma returning to you!
At the end of the week he received a Certificate of Completion, a recommendation letter from the local camp director that he can use this year, and signed proof of 40 service hours. He was so proud of himself.
“Mom, thanks for not letting me back out.” <—Words he really and truly did say.
He wants to return next year.
The hardest won victories are the sweetest.
Wow! Well done Andy and well done you. I love it when you share these stories. They’re what keep me going.
Right now I can’t imagine my 11 yr old going to any camp for a day, let alone a week (wish we had maker-type camps round here. We only seem to have sport or drama camps). Still – he’s managing an hour’s gymnastics class once a week so maybe there’s hope…
It’s so nice when it starts to come together! My oldest son, 2E, PG, cause of most of my gray hairs, just flew to Berlin for a summer semester. He’s my college-at-16, issues with anxiety and depression (THAT was TONS of fun to deal with at a 2,000 mile distance!), incredibly smart, too empathetic kid. Last summer, and the school year before that was hell. My neck was in knots, and my stomach hurt all the time. He had finished his spring semester with a .92 GPA, and was on the verge of dropping/flunking out of school. Since he was technically a high-school dropout already, we didn’t know WHAT to do. Fast forward a year: He has a girlfriend, a 3.32 GPA, is applying to graduate programs, and with this semester abroad, is back on track to get his Bachelor’s degree on time. He battled through, read up on Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration (which he firmly believes he went through), and has generally gotten it together. Boy has this been a long war, and I’m not convinced that we don’t have a few more battles to get through, but I’m more hopeful now (for THIS kid anyway) than I have been in a very, very long time.
Hope is my favorite flavor.