July 29, 2008

News of "the Arm"

Consider this: Jeff's summer camp offers unlimited one-way emailing AND the camp website posts at least two hundred photographs daily, plus a daily newsletter. When I first heard about these services, I scoffed. My parents got a few letters during my annual camp stay and they never complained!

My derision has come back to haunt me. I have become a web junkie, eagerly checking the site every afternoon to view the pictures. The same faces, day after day. I feel like I know those kids, but none of the photos are of MY KID.

I did not expect Jeff to write home. I supplied him with four self-addressed, stamped postcards to fulfill the weekly letter-writing obligation. Two are addressed to me and two to his brother. Not only that, but I composed the text, too, so that he would only have to fill in the blanks for such statements as "My counselor's name is __________." "My favorite camp activity is _________." None were sent.

Judging from the camp website, it appears that Jeff has spent his entire time hiding. There are lots of pictures of cheerful girls with their arms around each other. Younger boys are mugging for the camera. Older boys are shooting hoops or playing softball or tennis. There are pictures of pottery-making, tie-dyeing, Israeli dancing, singing, sports, boating, dramatics, theme days. Jeff is conspicuously absent. I knew he had arrived when I saw the photo of his arm taken on the first day but there has been no news since then.

Yesterday, I had worked myself into such a lather that I actually considered phoning camp, when I came upon a new photo of Jeff, in profile, playing frisbee. I calmed down a bit. At least, I know he is still there.

July 18, 2008

July 10, 2008

I Miss ♥

Mom, can I ask you a question? When can I come home?

Heart-breaking question, of course, but not unexpected. Now that Hart has been away almost a month, the honeymoon period at his residential school is over.

What has been unexpected is how much I miss Hart. Not Hart's behavior, oh no! I do not miss the crazy rituals, the parties in the wee hours, the unexpected tantrums and meltdowns. I miss Hart, the person, the sweet, sensitive boy. Sadly, Hart the boy and Hart the whirlwind of catastrophic behavior are inseparable. That knowledge hasn't made it much easier though. I have gotten through the past twelve years with an emotional menu of rage, mortification, and gritted-teeth determination. Now the unfamiliarity of resignation and occasional sadness has caught me unawares.

As predicted, Jeff is also calmer and more appropriately behaved. "It's quiet. Too quiet," he observed in the first week. True enough. Jeff still rolls his eyes when I speak. He is, after all, almost fifteen years old. However, he is chatty and gregarious much of the time now. He is funny, where in the past, he was unrelentingly silly.

The professionals who recently counseled me were unanimous: this arrangement will be better for everyone. And, of course, it is. Hart does not know or understand that all other options for him; day school, public or private, have been exhausted. This is the last step on the I.D.E.A.* ladder of providing "free and appropriate" education. So I had to say gently to Hart, "This is your new school and you will be there for high school. We'll make plans for a visit together soon."

* Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

July 1, 2008

Kumbaya, anyone? (photos)

This is why I am committed to sending my kids to summer camp. Great friends for thirty years . . . and counting . . . Noah, thanks for passing along the photos. We haven't changed a bit!

Say, isn't that Dr. Finch from Running With Scissors on end of the middle row in the staff photo?