It’s Summer time and I have memories of VBS in the local churches in our community. I remember sweaty hot rooms and making macaroni art, singing songs and snacks! I remember memorizing verses for stars. I LOVED to win the stars. Not to compete against others but to see just how many I could get. Summer camps both short day camps and overnight camps were a highlight of my summers.
I just picked up my 9 year old from camp after he bolted. He just ran away.
Jude deals with Anxiety and Trauma from living with Siblings with Autism. Life can be very chaotic, unstable and uncertain.
He struggles with doing things that seem like they should be fun; normal “kid” things And as his parent, I feel like I’m constantly balancing accepting where he is at and encouraging him to stretch his wings. I’m constantly balancing his emotional and mental capabilities and trying to encourage growth without wearing him out completely.
As his parent, it’s exhausting. Either I’m doing activities with him (like Grade 3 or Summer Camp) which means that I don’t get anything else done. Or I’m trying to encourage him to participate, which often means I’m hanging around close by; still unable to take care of other responsibilities. Or we stay at home and avoid “outside activities” and I can usually get some of my responsibilities accomplished.
Sometimes, he needs the complete break so he can recharge……like an older rechargeable battery that can only hold so much charge and takes longer to absorb the charge. He wears out easier than typical kids and requires more time to recharge.
Going to a high energy camp with a LOT of kids is exhausting so why do we do it?
It gives him another opportunity to practise and grow and to see how much stronger he is compared to last year.
It’s also SO important to live in community. We were not created to be alone. And even though it may seem easier to do it alone, it’s not. Loneliness is soul crushing. We are built for love and acceptance and interaction.
So even though it’s hard and awkward and too often we feel judged by people who don’t understand or “get it”; we believe in the value of community and so we do our best to connect, in ways that are meaningful for us, and yet don’t overwhelm or wear down us down.
I held back tears when I picked my son up. Tears for how hard it is for him. Tears because I’m exhausted. Tears because of shame. Tears because of guilt.
I told him I was SO excited to see him. And we carry on with our day.
The next time you see a kid bolting, understand that there’s a good chance the child is panicking for some reason.
Realize that they need support, understanding and help.
Recognize that kids do well, when they can.
Recognize that behaviour is communication.
Recognize that when kids are in panic mode they are more likely to “act” than “speak” and it’s ups to us, as adults, to lend our calm and to not add chaos.
Recognize that you can be a part of the solution or you can add to the problem.
Recognize that the child and their parents, most likely, have limited emotional/mental/physical resources in reserve.
Recognize that you can be a life line in both the child’s and the parents life.
Recognize that Shame and Blame help NO ONE!
Recognize that “villages” and “community” are SO desperately needed.