Alright, alright. So I made a big stink out of getting B-man into a City Summer Camp. I went through the whole process of applying for and obtaining a 1:1 support person (which included no fewer than 4 interviews and 7 sets of paperwork because apparently the City doesn’t own a photocopier). We got him his support person, and I selected a 2-week Adventure camp for 4 and 5 year olds.
He went for (most of) the first day. And then we stopped going. He’s at home now, practicing his transformation into Olde-man-tiger-boy.
I daydreamed about him being at camp for 2 weeks, imagining all the special moments with my 2 year old daughter who I have literally never spent more than 6 hours alone with. I wanted him to go. I thought it would be great for him. Just to clarify, this was a “regular” camp, not an adapted one, so I went into this knowing he might be the only non-biped in the room.
When we arrived, I immediately noticed my first mistake: no parking lot. Pushing a kid in a wheelchair while carrying/dragging a 2-year old by the hand can only be done for about 50 feet before panic sets in. If one of the kids gets squirrely, my mind has to predict which child will run/roll her/himself into the street first. AND THEN HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHICH ONE TO SAVE? My goal is to never have this happen, and I’ve done it by being very strategic – well, up to this point – with where I choose to park my car.
I found the closest accessible spot on the street. The problem was, even though this was an accessible space and I had a permit, the “no parking from 8-10 am” rule still applied (I know, I know, stupid me). After coming back to the car and discovering the $50 ticket, I wanted to stand outside the community centre and scream “I guess people in wheelchairs don’t use cars?!” But I didn’t. My mother would be proud.
I filed this information in the “good to know for next time” category.
The whole thing just felt weird. I had that nervous, butterfly feeling in my gut that I couldn’t quite ignore. In addition to failing to find a community centre with an actual parking lot, I also failed to confirm how many kids would be in the room at one time. When I saw the sign-in sheet I almost lost my shit: 39 kids. THIRTY-FREAKING-NINE. My son’s junior kindergarten class had 7 kids, though he eventually graduated to having lunch in a room with about 20. The vast majority of his peers, like him, used a mobility device.
When I picked him up, he looked miserable. The room looked like a bread truck had exploded earlier in the day. He had refused his lunch, both snacks, water, and juice. EVEN JUICE WAS REFUSED. Clearly this boy is either super smart, as in I’m going on a hunger strike cause I hate this place so much, or he was feeling pretty anxious about the experience. I think it was a little bit of both.
I hate quitting things. I was always taught that I had to finish stuff, which led to some pretty bizarre hobbies as a child, like electric organ lessons (6 years, thank you very much) and a collection of hand-woven dish towels made out of old panty hose.
I realize now that assuming he would be okay with 39 other typically-developing kids in a fairly unstructured setting was overzealous on my part. He hates large groups, excessive noise, and unexpected movement. He can’t swiftly turn his neck to see “what the eff was that?” when a toy goes flying by his face. He needs plenty of assistance in order to “get into” an activity. And if the activity is poorly planned or designed for a toddler, well, forget about it. He CAN do a million other cool things that most typical 5-year olds can’t. But this camp wasn’t designed with those things, and kids like him, in mind. And that’s perfectly cool. I’ll know better for next time.
I hate quitting things, but sometimes, it feels pretty good to say “no thank you.”