I have spent the summer in my minivan, a vehicle much maligned before I became a suburban mom of two. The ride is quiet, apple juice spills on leather seats clean up quick, and I like sitting up high. My old VW never would have held up to the rigors of this summer.
If it’s a quarter to the next hour, then I am surely on my way for either a pickup or drop-off. Unbelievably, I have no one to blame for this. I filled out camp forms back in February when there was little reason to dwell on the logistics of two boys needing to be in two different places at the same time.
Even if I could think of a zillion different things I’d rather be doing than being a glorified chauffeur, the boys seem to love every minute of it.
Sam is going to a speech/social skills camp and clearly has both down pat. The youngest in his group, he is an enthusiastic friend to everyone. On the playground I watch as he calls to the older boys, who are at least 6 or 7, “Hey! Let’s play chase!” and am amazed when they do. He is joyful and persistent, and if met with resistance, he shrugs it off or tries again — the second time successfully.
He has learned taekwando, yoga, baseball, bike riding and soccer. Each week’s theme is a source of wonder to him. Like a sponge, he’s soaking it up and filing it away. During baseball week he begged for cleats and told us about the bases. During yoga, he demonstrated poses and told me one memorable afternoon that I needed to take a deep breath and relax so that I’d feel better. After being unable to navigate the pedals of a tricycle last summer, he is now riding a bike independently.
Last week one of his friends was gone for a few days. Sam came home and said “Where is Montana?” I got a map out and now he has memorized most of the United States. I think to myself, Is there a way to bottle this? This ability? This joy?
John goes to ESY in the morning and to a terrific camp in the afternoon. They go swimming every day and run around the playground. Structure? Not so much, it’s more about fun. John loves, loves, loves the water and being in it elicits unexpected words and laughter.
Sometimes it has to be just about the laughter, you know?
After our IEP meeting, I made an appointment with a renowned institute’s assistive technology clinic. I just felt that if there was a way to help John communicate more effectively, that we had to find it and give it to him. So last week we headed there and met with their director and speech pathologist. She watched him and tried to engage him with a wall of PECS. “I see a tree,” she said, pulling off a picture of a tree. John followed her and replied, “I see a ball,” and pulled off a picture of a ball. They went back and forth like this for a bit. At one point he tired and said to me, “Mommy’s car.” The speech pathologist said the most amazing words to me afterwards: “He is very verbal.”
Of course I started to cry. She said that clearly he is very delayed with speech, but that he is pronouncing properly, adding on things like ‘s and not dropping syllables. She said that while a high-tech device wouldn’t be the right thing for him, she would customize a Flip ‘n Talk to augment his communication.
And I think, Can we bottle this? My relief? This joy?