The summer of 2014 was Lincoln’s 9th summer and he has learned to do summer right!
He has counted and treasured each and every school-free moment and has learned quite quickly what he finds amusing and interesting and honestly will not tolerate any boredom! “I can’t be bored!!” has been a recurring exclamation all summer long and I am a bit conflicted with it because as an individual my soul screams the same sentiment from deep within my brain…but as a working Mom of 4 it only reminds me of my short comings….or more accurately my shortness of free time!
I’m not the type of parent to coddle and entertain my children, I don’t see the merit of having an unrealistically abundant social and recreational calender and quite honestly I don’t have time or energy to keep my children occupied in sport or clubs from morning to night. I am employed full-time I have 4 hours of commute per working day, I work opposite shifts to my spouse and I am always alone with my 4 sons every weekend. If I kept my kids as busy as most parents feel they have to I am pretty sure I’d be dead by mid-week.
Lincoln though, has matured and gained a more complex thought process. He wants to explore the world, feel, smell and taste it for all it is. He wants to be free to roam, laugh and play as he deems fit. And at 9, who doesn’t?
I found myself really torn at times when I wanted to foster independence but was leery that my boy was ready to embrace it, or that he could control impulses that made trust and independence too dangerous to give. When we walk places, or visit parks or public beaches I try to give him more roaming room but it is difficult to know what may spook or tempt him and I often have to trail close to ensure his safety.
We have allowed him to venture up to his room, stick his self-made “Do not Disturb” sign on the door and have some alone time. A small thing, but in the world of Autism a big step. This was always too dangerous to allow Lincoln to be someplace alone. Too many possible dangers, even in a house babyproofed passed the point of sanity.
We have spent much time at parks with friends, out playing with others and enjoying the moment for what it is. I have literally been all over Durham region, never going to the same park two visits in a row, keeping the kids happy and busy.
We took the time to visit new places that the kids will all enjoy and learn from. The aquarium for Lincoln full of Sharks and Rays, fish and eels. My ASD son was in his glory spouting facts and interesting anatomy details about all the exotic creatures of the sea, ocean and bodies of water on this wonder Earth. A few sporting events, a museum or two, lots of water parks.
“I want to have a beach day! Like last year, remember how great that was Mom?” I smile at my boy, who is gazing up into my face, eyes imploring mine for an answer, though, no longer gazing so far…my son is growing tall…he is not so little anymore.
“Yes Lincoln, beach days are so fun!”
So we pack up the family and we head out to the Sandbanks or Sandy beach and we frolic in the waves or wade in the stillness of the warm summer water. I watch the kids bob and surf on the water and smile and giggle. I watch my boy enthralled in the joy of childhood and I know he is happy. I am happy.
When he asks how many more days till school starts I hear the trepidation of the new school year and I feel the dread seep inside my heart.
“Lincoln, this year will be a good year”
“I just don’t want to go to school, can I not live in the forest or with Grampa, they don’t need to go to school. I can’t leave my safe, comfy house!”
“If you want to be a farmer, you need to be smart Lincoln. You need to know how to take care of the animals.”
He seemed to accept that, and the visit to his school and to meet his new teacher went ok but the night before school began he snuck into my bed in the middle of the night and held my hand as he slept much like he did when he was 2 not 9. I knew he was nervous, I understood he was scared. I help his hand until morning and hoped for the best.
School has started out well, no huge stumbles or complaints and I am proud of my boy for it.
This morning I was lucky enough to have a quiet breakfast one on one with Lincoln. Over french toast he asked me “Mom, what would you like to do today?”
“Well” I said, stretching my arm over my head and resting it on the back of the neighboring chair “What do you propose we do?”
“I think we need to build blanket forts! Great, big, blanket forts!”
I smile “That I can do! I use to be pretty good at that when I was little”
“You bet Linc. Eat up, and we will get started”
He takes a bite of his french toast and chews with a slow smile spreading over his beautiful face.
“What Lincoln? why the devilish smile?”
“I am not a devil, but I do love you Mom. You are a great Mom”
I took a sip of my tea and returned the smile.
“I guess it is easy when I have great kids”
He nodded softly and continued to eat in silence, the sun cascading through the window, spilling prettily along his profile.
At that moment I understood why at times he was quiet and introverted. There just were no words needed.
I thought of how quickly my son has grown. How his words ad actions have matured, how he has learned to be a leader and a good big brother and how to be a friend. How he sees how people are effected by things and he can weigh emotion on the face or others and offer a condolence or congratulation based on it.
It might only have been a summer, a short 60 days but my ASD kid has gained so much from a summer at home and I am thankful for all he has achieved just being a boy of summer vacation.