We are now in the 5 week portion of our summer that includes camp and school. J, our oldest, is enjoying a mix of unstructured playground camp and vacation bible school and E is back at school for her extended school year (although it's not technically extended as she has the same number of days as other schools only it's spread over the calendar year instead of 9 months giving her weeks and weeks of vacation during the typical school year and some time in school during the summer).
J started back at camp a week before E started back at school. I was looking forward to some one-on-one time with E like I had when J ended her school year a week before E's ended, but I soon found out E might be more ready to get back to her routine and spending lots of time with her peers. Each morning when we dropped J off at camp E would love to hang out for a bit and check out all the activities. It was clear that she wanted to stay and she would cry when we left and put up a huge fight when I was putting her back in her car seat. It was enough to make my heart hurt. I may have even cried.
I started to tell E that she is too young for J's camp and we could consider it for her next year. But as I started thinking about that more I realized that camp wouldn't be a good fit for E. It's unstructured and the children are free to do as they please during the day - partake in loosely structured activities or not. E would likely choose to sit and watch the children all day instead of participating in activities. She's an observer more than a doer. I'll have to remember that next year when looking for summer camps and see if I can find one that would fit both girls so they can attend camp together.
E started back at school this week. We decided to send her to school on the bus 3x/week and I'll drive her in 2x/week. I was anxious about this decision. I was wondering how E would do on the bus, how I will know she gets there safely, etc. Then the day came when I sent her on the bus and she was over the moon happy to head to school on the bus. I waved to her the entire time her wheelchair was getting buckled in and she smiled a bit then looked all over without a backward glance to me. Finally the school bus aide pointed out the window to me so Emma would give me one final smile goodbye. When I headed inside I promptly texted her personal care assistant (one-on-one aide) at school and asked her to text me when E arrived. She did and continues to text me each day to let me know E arrived safely. The next day the bus drivers came to pick her up and were telling me what a warm reception E received at school. They said it seems like she is something of a local celebrity at her school with everyone coming over to say hi to her. I know this is true because the same thing happens when I drop her off - everyone gives her a warm welcome and E flashes megawatt smiles at them all.
For these 5 weeks the girls' mornings will be filled with camp/school and our afternoons will continue to be filled with fun adventures together. I have a feeling that before we know it we'll be headed back into the unstructured bliss the last 4 weeks of the summer will hold again. Bring it on!
Kristina is the mother of two charming daughters and wife to a wonderful man who puts up will all her wild ideas. She works to raise awareness of cytomegalovirus (CMV) and preventing CMV exposure during pregnancy. Kristina graduated from the national Partners in Policymaking program in September 2010 and is an advocate for disability rights and inclusion education. You can read more at howlifehappens.blogspot.com