Yes, I Was Planning to Go to BlogHer

This was the year I would be going, remember?

The conference ticket was purchased. The airline ticket, too. I had a couple of stumbling blocks, though. Namely, how was I going to pay for a hotel room and who would watch the kids.

The hotel room was pricey, but I had a potential sponsor. Then, Game Teen's scout camp coincided with the BlogHer dates. It was a sign, I was sure of it. There are precious few people on this planet who can handle Game Teen for more than a few hours, so the possibility of only asking someone to watch Chef and getting a yes was much better.

Something held me back, though. After the initial email exchanges with the sponsor, I backed off. Two weeks ago, I found a happy taker for the conference ticket and I changed the plane ticket to a voucher to be used between now and March.

Between yesterday and today, it became clear why I shouldn't be going to BlogHer. It can be explained by this: GameTeen is asleep in his own bed tonight.

He was as disruptive at camp as he is at home. Maybe even more so, as he had new people to push buttons, test boundaries and pull all his crap upon. While they've been patient and successful with him for the short camping trips and hikes, he proved to be too much for them in a camp setting.

Tuesday morning, as I grabbed a breakfast in the extra time before my interview, I got a phone call from one of the leaders. He explained that they'd had some major meltdowns, but everything was cool. Could I possibly stop by the camp to sit down with the leaders and Game Teen, so that we all could discuss what would happen?

I'd passed by the camp just over an hour earlier and agreed to visit on my return home. By the time I arrived, Game Teen had been a model camper for the rest of the morning, because they admitted that they probably pushed him to do too much. S stated "the average kid does better when they're kept busy, Game Teen does worse."

The leaders decided to cut his schedule. They felt they had things well in hand. An invitation was extended for me to share lunch with the troop and I enjoyed not only the food (honestly, really good stuff), but the entertainment provided by the camp staff. Game Teen seemed to enjoy as well. Probably the most touching part is that several of the boys came over to say hello to me-we've got good kids, for sure.

What I didn't think about, and later came to pass, is that Game Teen tends to act WORSE when Mom or Dad pay a visit to school. While I will never be sure, because he won't fess up, it may be a case of "well, I'll get to go home and play games if I act so bad they want to kick me out, and it's already close to that point because he/she is here now."

That's what he did.

S believes that part of the problem was the noise and activity in the dining hall was too much for Game Teen. That may be a contributor, but it's not the only thing. Half the time, we're flying blind with the kid-he can't articulate what he's feeling or what makes him do what he does. That's probably the suckiest part of Asperger's, that he hits a breaking point and even he is not sure what triggered it or how to express what happened.

Alas, after his episode yesterday, S called me. My phone was on vibrate from attending the interview (I never turn my ringer off for exactly that reason. I forget to turn it back). So, I didn't get the messages about the situation until Wednesday afternoon.

I called S as soon as I got the message and we talked about the problems and that I should come get Game Teen. The offer was made to come ASAP, but S said we should come as planned for Family Night, spend a little time, then take Game Teen home. It was presented in a very calm way, and I felt that the three leaders were doing everything they could for my son-but they've got 19 other boys to supervise. No question that I had to collect my son.

An hour later, I got another phone call. This one from someone else from the troop who was not at the camp.

"Um, I don't know how to say it...I don't really know you all that well...but in the past, kids who have been to camp the first time are homesick. If parents see you taking him home, well, we're afraid that they'll take their sons home, too.

It would be best if you get there early and get him and his stuff out before other parents arrive, so that they don't get the idea to take the homesick boys home."

Never mind that I'd already told this person that I'd spoken with S and I offered to collect him earlier, and S stated this was not what the leaders wanted-they wanted us to be there for family night.

What the heck was going on and was there something that I wasn't being told?

I hung up from that call, and felt about 2 inches tall. It's bad enough that my child can't handle being at camp. It sucks that we shelled out three hundred dollars (that we really didn't have-then OR now) to send him off, only for him to have to come home half way through.

The worst part was that I felt as if my child is an embarrassment to the caller and the troop, that we were discouraged from participating in the Family night activities, then leave-because it might mean more boys would leave.

The hour in the car driving to camp was spent fighting back tears and trying to keep the anxiety attack from getting worse. As parents, Ed and I deal with the stares, the snide comments about the kid who is a brat, the family members who don't understand nor care to, and the school staffers who don't believe us about how bad things really can be with him.

When Chef and I arrived at the camp, Game Teen was very happy to see us, but I was all business. "Where's your stuff?" It was all in his hootch, with a few things on a cot outside. The caller said that his stuff would be packed and ready to go when I mentioned that I had to get his stuff together, that one of the leaders would be informed to pack his bag.

One of the other parents and S came up to us and greeted me. I can't remember exactly how it came about, but I said we weren't sticking around, that I needed to get Game Teen's stuff together and out right away. S told me to stay-whereupon I lost it.

I started crying and blubbering about the phone call I'd had, that I wanted to be gone, how I know this child is a burden, he will always be one, but to be told by someone to HIDE the fact that Game Teen couldn't hack camp for the sake of preventing parents from leaving with their homesick kids was humiliating.

(BTW, if my son told me he was homesick after I'd shelled out that kind of money for camp, the answer would be 'suck it up-I never went away to camp!')

Apparently, the caller was not speaking on behalf of the leaders. Instead, the events of a couple of other scouting transition camp outs had the caller worried about a repeat situation with the first time campers here. There's a big difference between 9 and 10 year olds camping without their parents and 11-18 year olds being away from home for the first time.

The whole situation sucked. Thankfully, the parent that I spoke with along with S is a leader of Chef's pack, so I got some reassurances from someone I felt could be honest with me. We decided to stick around for dinner and the canoe fights later.

Yes, it bums me out that he didn't make it through the whole week. It also bites that for now, he needs Mom or Dad to attend any overnights (kind of tricky when Chef isn't going to be a Boy Scout for another seven months). But the upshot of the trip is that the people who were there AT the camp with him would do anything within their power to keep him there.

Of that I have no doubt.


DoeWDW said…
I have no words, just {hugs}.
- Doreen in PA
daysgoby said…
Suzanne - I'm sorry. Sorry about Blogher, sorry about this this.

Your boy is a beautiful soul.

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