Why on the weekend before Christmas have I barely begun my shopping?
Because I spent most of last week not in stores but stuck at my computer filling out forms.
One was already late: our application for Deane’s ski “lessons.” A year after our winter-that-wasn’t, we are going to put Deane’s reconstructed hip to the test and return once again to Sunday River and the amazing people at Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation for our family ski holiday. (More about that awesome program in a future post.)
The other was for a first-come, first-serve program: camp. I have written about our rather disastrous experience at family camp this summer. Given how much Deane disliked that 2½-day immersion into camp life, my husband’s initial reaction when I told him that I was applying to send our son to a 10-day overnight camp was surprise. My daughter angrily asked why I was going to do that to Deane.
A friend had been sending me frequent reminders of the application date. Her disabled son, who is a year younger than Deane, went to camp last year and really enjoyed it. She reassured me that Deane would be fine.
Easter Seals has been running this camp for disabled kids for 65 years. It is completely wheelchair accessible and the program is fully adapted. If there is a place Deane would enjoy this is it.
But despite all my bravado, I had to swallow hard as I hit send on the application. As my daughter asked, why am I doing this to Deane?
It comes down to a gut instinct thing. He is 15. His life up until now has consisted of school and hanging at home with his family. But the time is coming when we have to figure out what comes next and whatever it is it will be easier the more independent Deane is.
But why not ease into it with another attempt at family camp? Because my husband and I realize we are part of the problem. Like most kids, Deane misbehaves more and pushes the limits further with his parents more than with anyone else. He is better at school or physio than he is with us.
Also, Deane is already testing out his independence. One of the things that became clear through our odyssey in the hospital after his hip surgery is that Deane knows what he wants and is fully able to express his preferences. He is not a little kid who will let us set the agenda.
We have never been away from Deane for that long. Driving away is going to be gut-wrenchingly hard. As the months tick away, I will reassure myself that the camp staff has lots of experience – and that he’s only a 90-minute drive away if I truly can’t hack it.
Editor’s note: This post was delayed by an inconveniently timed ice storm