Everyone has similar hopes for their children. I think most everyone would say they want their children to be “happy, healthy, productive adults.” We all want them to do something positive in the world and to be happy. Whether they go to Yale or to a local community college or just graduate from high school, I think most parents would agree that happiness (with a big side of being a good human) would be the most important piece of their children’s’ futures.
Honestly, that is what I want for Cameron too. I want him to be happy! But there are a slew of additional things that I would like for Cameron. These things come to me as I’m doing everyday things that I know are currently very hard for Cameron to do. While I was putting jelly on my toast today, I thought about how difficult that task is for Cameron. While driving past a city bus yesterday and watching carefully to make sure it didn’t pull out and there was no one around it, I realized that driving safely is going to be very difficult for Cameron; there is no way he’d think about the bus, he’d just barrel past without noticing it—well that would be if he was driving today, but we have about six or seven quickly moving years to get him to pay attention to the world around him before he gets behind the wheel. Which brings me to what this summer has been about for our family—The Summer of Cameron.
Cameron will be nine years old in less than a month. We’ve been looking for ways to help him for at least two years, and not much has changed; he still has similar, if not exactly the same, struggles he’s had since birth. So this summer has been about therapy to help with self-esteem, swimming for sensory input, and more occupational therapy to help with those everyday things that are hard for him, in addition to just trying to let him be a kid and enjoy his summer. Not to be cliché, but time really does fly! Summer is more than half over (for me, anyway), he’ll be in middle school in only two years, and each year that he struggles with the stuff that we all take for granted, he gets further behind his peers, which will make it more difficult for him to make and keep friends, which will be detrimental to his self-esteem, which will all make it very difficult for him to lead that happy, healthy, productive life I talked about earlier.
So, while going to all these appointments that yield similar comments from professionals including, “What a neat kid!” “He’s so personable!” and the inevitable, “That [fill in behavior here] is not that typical of a child who also does [fill in another relatively contradictory behavior here],” I can’t help but feel a little bit defeated. And crazy. I feel crazy too. He’s so great with other people, and he is so very smart, and perhaps some of the behaviors we see at home are typical of other kids…but my gut (and my husband’s) says otherwise. His personality, and the fact that he’s adorable, and girls his age stare wide-eyed at him with dreamy eyes full of the crushes that I remember having on boys in my 3rd grade class, are his saving graces. And my saving grace as his mom is the fact that his “with-it-ness” is so compromised that he has literally no idea that the girls are looking at him like that.
While I do feel quite defeated lately, I am also very grateful. I’m so grateful for the fact that Cameron really likes all of these appointments that his crazy mother has lined up for him. I’m grateful that he is cute and kind and compassionate and personable. I’m grateful that he is an active and athletic kid, which in our culture may help him gain friendships in the future (take it from the tallest girl on the basketball team who was asked to work as the “manager” because I just wasn’t good enough to play- being good at sports seemed to make things easier for other people I knew). I’m grateful that Cameron is mine, because I think I learn something new from him every single day, whether it’s the name of a president I didn’t know existed (notably Millard Fillmore), or how to more consistently use deep breathing before letting myself say what is in my sarcastic brain.
One more thing I’m grateful for today? That Cameron and his sister are spending the day with their grandparents and this crazy mom gets a little breather. A day off makes it easier to do that deep breathing I was just talking about.