Both boys started summer camp last week (cue: Handel’s Messiah). Ethan goes every day, all day while Connor goes 3 times a week for half the day. On the first day, Connor told me he was feeling scared when I dropped him off. This did not surprise me. Connor is undoubtedly a Mama’s boy. He would sometimes cry when I dropped him off at preschool despite loving school and his wonderful teachers. Last week, he bravely sat down with strangers and silently watched me leave. After I had exited the gym, I thought I heard crying that sounded like his. Later I found out that he did indeed cry for a minute after I had left. All in all though, it was a successful start!
Day 2 drop off, Connor said he was feeling scared as soon as we walked towards the park. He started crying just as we got to the gym and became a life-sucking leech on me. I tried to comfort and calm him, bribe him with promises of special treats and Ferrari’s, but nothing worked to release his death grip. The counselor told me it was best if the goodbye was quick. This mother of two looked at the young, well-intentioned, super nice, but YOUNG guy (who better get carded every time), and thought, ‘No kidding, but do you see how this child is wrapped around my body like a hungry boa contrictor? Help a sister out!’ Instead I said that I would gladly leave in a split second but doing so would require assistance or else the boa/leech was coming with me. The supervisor finally came and held my screaming child so I could sprint out to the sounds of his pitiful moans.
Day 3 drop off, Connor said he didn’t want to go to camp and was feeling scared before we even left the house. Mike decided to try to help and came with me. He gave Connor a piggyback ride and tried to make it a fun event. There was no fooling our child with separation anxiety issues. He screamed and cried while the counselor held him this time, probably thanking his lucky stars it was Friday.
Yesterday (Sunday), Connor said he did not want to get dressed out of his pj’s. He was about to throw a tantrum about it because he said he did not want to go to camp! Tantrum idea quickly went out the window as soon as he heard us tell him that he didn’t have camp today. I thought the anxiety was supposed to decrease as time went on, not start progressively earlier in the day. I debated back and forth in my mind whether we should continue the torture to help him learn to be more independent, to have “forced fun” over the summer, and to foster some healthy detachment. Or was it only scarring him for life, making the camp staff think the unbearable heat nothing compared to his crying rituals of terror, and that I should just eat the fee I paid for park camp? I could be praying for world peace and the end of poverty, but instead I found myself asking the Good Lord to help Connor be brave for summer camp.
He is faithful in answering silly prayers from an unworthy pray-er! This morning Connor changed out of his pj’s without complaint. Mike and I double teamed to drop him off again. He did whimper his fear once we were about to go, but the good old (er, young) counselor did the drill and held our little guy. He only cried a minute again. When I picked him up, he was all smiles. He said he only cried a “tiny bit.” While walking to the car, he waved to a friend. That’s right, let the record show: CONNOR HAS A FRIEND.
It was only recently that I put to rest fears of having a future unabomber in Connor. We are blessed to have neighbors with two boys that my boys adore. We frequent the park with them, but for the most part, Connor would stay by himself or sit with me while the other 3 boys went off on wild adventures together. Then one fateful night while the boys were there with their buddies and a sitter, the neighbor texted me that Connor was ACTUALLY playing with the other 3 and having fun. She understood what a momentous occasion this was. Connor play WITH the others? I think I ordered a cocktail after reading that text.
Connor told me he had a friend in his recently formed camp group, and they played together. Perhaps I really can put to rest my fears of him being diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder. I was beyond excited and asked what this friend’s name was so I could buy him a drink (of lowfat milk, of course). Connor answered, “I don’t know.” Who cares that he doesn’t know his name?! He liked him enough to ask if he could go to nameless friend’s birthday party.
We only have 2 drop off’s this week due to the July 4th holiday. One down, one to go. Hopefully this morning is a sign of better days to come. I hope that nameless kid gets the best birthday party ever. I for one am thankful he was born. 🙂 As if that wasn’t enough goodness for one day, Connor went on to say that he wanted to take a nap after lunch. WHAT?! The boy has been refusing and fighting naps for months. Camp and the heat index wore him out enough that he was requesting a siesta. God bless summer camp. Amen.