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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Summer without dread (mostly)

Smiles on the train
Tuesday was Janey's last day of school, and I kept thinking it didn't feel like the end of the school year and the start of summer.  After some thought, I put my finger on why---I didn't feel dread.

Of course, I feel guilty saying that.  It doesn't fit with the idolized autism mother I always compare myself to.  I'm not supposed to feel dread that school is over.  I'm supposed to feel happy, energized, ready to enrich Janey's life with all kinds of helpful and fun activities.  But every year up until this one, I felt dread instead.  Dread of long days full of tears, days where my good intentions to do all kinds of interesting activities with Janey ran up against the fact she didn't want to do those activities, or her behavior was such that I couldn't do those activities with her alone.  Dread of the feeling in mid-afternoon where all that keeps me going is counting the minutes until Tony gets home and I can collapse and have ten minutes to myself.  Dread, mostly, for Janey---for the unhappiness that I can do nothing about often, for the boredom I fear that she feels, for the confusion I worry she has about transitions like school to summer---dread of a summer that I always feel falls far short of what I want her summers to be.

Rest with William on the grass
However, this year, the dread was almost non-existent.  A lot of that is that Janey is just plain easier and happier than she used to be.  It's a rare day that she screams and cries all day.  It is possible, now to take her out in public even on my own at times, and certainly with one other adult.  But the other part is a change in my own attitude.  I have you, my dear blog friends, to thank for that for that to a large extend.  Last year I wrote about my guilt over the sameness of Janey's days when there isn't school, about how the highlight of the day is often just a walk to the corner convenience store, about how many videos she watches.  I was comparing her summer life to my own at her age----by the time I was 12, I worked at least part of every summer, I spent tons of time on the ocean, I did things with friends and read and biked and all the things that summer in Maine in the 70s and 80s meant.  But that was my life.  And you all reminded me that Janey might be quite content with her days as they are---that I should not feel guilty about what got us through the day---that a walk to the store for her might be like a walk along the coastline was for me.  I took what you all said very much to heart, and it helped me a huge amount.

Picking out a donut
So---I'm feeling better about this summer.  I've taken a few other steps to help too.  Tony has arranged his vacation time around Janey's summer school, so there are not long periods of time with just me at home.  I've figured out that making sure Janey gets a lot of walking exercise in early in the day leads to more relaxing afternoons.  I'm keeping the house very well stocked with foods she likes, and we are walking to the corner store several times a day.  And I'm letting her watch videos as much as she darn well pleases, and not feeling any guilt over it.

Yesterday, William and I took Janey into the city on the commuter train.  I would not have dared to do such a thing in the recent past.  It went fairly well.  We let Janey pick where we walked, and that resulted in an interesting random ramble around downtown, eventually into a small park with a fountain.  Janey said "I want to swim!" and I rolled up her pants and took off her shoes and she waded in the fountain for a long, long time.  And I didn't care that she got some looks for the financial world type people that were all over the park.  I enjoyed people-watching them, so the looking was two-way.  We met Tony to take the train home with him after work, and then I took a long nap.  If the summer can be like yesterday---not too bad, guilt-free and with Janey at least neutral if not happy all the time, I'm going to call it a success.
South Station, Boston
Walking along the Rose Kennedy Greenway

1 comment:

asteng1234 said...

I'd love to see something as fun as a child wading in our downtown fountain on my lunch hour!