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Saturday, May 23, 2015

If You Give A Special Needs Boy A Summer Break, He's Going To Need Something to DO



If you give a boy a summer break, he’s going to want something to do with it. At least if he’s a 9-year-old, hyperactive, extremely bright, super sensitive, loving, kind, anxious child. (Anxious because the air hurts, voices echo, faces frighten, social cues make little sense and summer is a big, flaming gap of uncertainty.)

You recall camp experiences from the past and you cringe. (angry coaches, mean teachers, bullies, loud screaming noises, confusing transitions, rushing bodies, new kids every week, expectations set too high, too much activity. Your boy miserable afterwards. Tantrums.)

What will you do this summer?

He’ll ask to sleep in late. You’ll nod your head. Yes. When he finally wakes up, he’ll refuse to shower. He’ll eventually roll out of bed, and ask you for oatmeal with hot purple blueberries.

You’ll give him the oatmeal and he’ll spill the colorful gook all over his sheets, comforter and the hardwood floor. (You served him in bed to avoid a breakfast fight with his sister and brother downstairs.) He’ll leave the bowl on the floor, and then step on it, crunching its blue ceramic under his bare feet on his way out the door. He’ll scream in pain, and you’ll run to get a band aide. You’ll wish you could cleanup the sticky, nasty mess, but you’ll be chasing him down the stairs, asking him to get dressed and put on the band aide. (He’s still in his underpants.)

He’ll see his brother and sister perched quietly beneath the golden morning light that caresses their calm faces. Their nimble fingers string colorful beads at the kitchen table. He’ll find this image disturbing (who can sit and play like that?) and he’ll let out a screech before taking flight. He needs attention. Stimulation. Exercise. Routine. Space. Your chest will tighten. He’ll launch his lanky body at his sister. She’ll scream. He’ll do it again. She’ll scream louder.

The loud noise will cause his hand to reach for the nearest object in site…no, not the carrot juice container! He’ll swing it at her. Whoosh. Bright colorful wetness will splatter all of over the crisp, blue kitchen walls. It will dribble down between the table plank cracks, like an acidic flood over your hopeful morning. His sister will scream again, crying now, as though dying, melting from carrot juice. Her favorite purple dress is dotted with orange stains.

You’ll breathe hard. Your mind will try to empty itself, but instead will think about its feet running down the driveway, along the winding road, sprinting to the shell-covered beach of the Long Island Sound. You’ll imagine swimming through the ticklish water, until you get to the mouth, to the Atlantic. Then you’ll keep going. Paddling your favorite doggy-style stroke, you’ll imagine your picture on headlines “Mom swims across the world, escaping summer vacation.”

Mom! He’ll wake you from your fantasy. He’ll ask you to rollerblade with him, to calm himself. (He has determined that the carrot juice launch was not a calm act.) Though you’re wearing a bathrobe, and you haven’t had your morning tea, you’ll find yourself rolling down your driveway with black wheels protruding from your white fuzz. (You’ll do anything for peace.)You’ll see neighbors’ cars slowing down. You even might see a few fingers protruding from windows. They’re pointing. Your hair is messy, and you flick it aside, but you did wash your face. You smile and wave at the cars. (You've learned to do this.) Your husband will text you, are you rollerblading in your bathrobe? And is our son rollerblading in his underpants? The calm kids inside must have called Dad about this. Tattle-tales.

You can’t reply. You’re determined to get your roller-spin down (it works to entertain your special boy) and, who can text while blading? As you spin, you try to figure out how you’ll do this day, how you’ll keep the peace, how you’ll help your son survive the summer, why everyone cancels everything regular in the summer, why the notion exists that summer break is fun when it makes your kids'  life (and yours) unpredictable. Crazy. Exhausting. The air feels good, and you let yourself get dizzy. You’re a blur. 

Your daughter and middle son lean out the window, calling your name, slowing down the mesmerizing hysteria of your spin. They ask you for a cookie. You stop spinning, and you head toward the house realizing that if you give them a cookie, they’re going to want something, something really spectacularly good this summer, to go with it.




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2 comments :

Rebecca said...

Forgive me if my comment appears twice. I saw your essay on Mamalode and a lot of the ways you describe your son remind me of the son from this mama's blog (http://mytwicebakedpotato.com/). While no two kids are the same or will respond in the same way, I thought this blog might be an interesting resource for you.

Amy Challenger said...

Thanks Rebecca! I'll check it out. And thanks for reading!

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