I was subbing as a para at a local elementary school this week and got to talking with another para during our lunch break.
“I’m ready to be done, ready for summer,” she told me. “We’re going on vacation right after school gets out and I’m really looking forward to relaxing. We’re going up to the lake and it’s just wonderful. My 3 kids will sit on the dock and fish for hours. We get to sit back and relax. The kids just love it up there, they will play for hours, building little rivers and dams in the sand. They love catching minnows and putting them in little ponds they make on the beach. Our oldest is old enough now to take the boat out on the lake and fish with the younger two. They stay in sight, but they can go out on their own for a bit. My husband and I will sit on the shore with a drink, chat, and watch them fish. They totally entertain themselves.”
“Wow…that sounds wonderful. I have a different sort of reaction to summer barreling down on me,” I told her. “It’s more like this!” I threw up my hands as if trying to stop a bus from running me over.
“That’s right, your little boy is autistic?” She asked me. “I think about the parents of our kids at the end of the year, what summer is like for them as I know how intense some of these kids are. I think almost all of the moms are stay at home moms, except for one family.”
“Yup, summers can be looooong, and I always joke that I’m going to be hanging on by my nails at the end of it, but it’s not really a joke! I usually do feel that way at the end of August. When the bus pulls away on that first day of school I feel a mixture of fear and anxiety for my child, but I also do a little jig and then lay on the floor in the foyer for 5-10 minutes.”
“Do you have lots of stuff planned for him this summer?” she asked me.
“I’ve signed him up for a friendship club that meets once a week, he’s going to do a 2 week swim camp and a 1 week basketball camp, and then there’s summer school in July…” I trailed off. “That sounds like a lot, but there is still a lot of time in the day. Basketball is for 1 hour in the mornings, swim lessons are only 30 minutes, and the friendship group meets for an hour. He needs lots of activities to do, and he doesn’t really go off and play or entertain himself. My only time to get anything done is when he’s watching a show, so that’s when I take a shower.”
“Wow, so you’ll be busy this summer huh?”
“Yup, my full time job starts on Friday morning!”
I remember the feeling of freedom when the bell rang on the last day of school. Summer is some of the best times when you are a kid. I want it to be that way for the Roc. I don’t want to dread summer, but I’ll admit that I do. I dread being the full time entertainer for 12 weeks.
12 weeks is a long time.
As my dread grew in the last few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about what the Roc and I could do to make this a fun summer. Last summer was full of big transitions. We moved across the country, lived with family for 5 weeks, then moved into our own home. I didn’t have a car for much of the summer and that really limited the Roc and I getting out and staying busy. This summer has the potential to be much more fun, for both of us.
I’ve thought about how and when to conduct some homeschooling time, the Roc and I, so he doesn’t lose the academic skills he’s been building this year. He participated in a portion of summer school after we arrived in MN, but it wasn’t enough, and we were so busy with the move that I didn’t do anything extra to help him retain what he knew. He lost 3/4 of the sight words he knew at the end of kindergarten. I have a big stack of stuff from his special ed teacher, and we are going to work at least 3 mornings a week, more if I can get him to particpate. I still need to decide what he’s going to be working for and how exactly he’s going to earn his reward. That’s on my list for the weekend. But the Roc is not going to think having “school time” with mommy is fun. I need to come up with fun stuff for us to do.
So I’ve decided to make a summer bucket list and we’ll try to cross off as many things as we can before school starts again in September. Some will be outings, some will be crafts, some will be simple activities.
In no particular order.
– Go bowling (The Roc has never been, this is the summer to change that.)
– Swim at 2 new lakes (We went to one near our house last year, and I know there are 2 more pretty close by with swimming beaches.)
– Go to the children’s museum
– Paint on the porch
– Go to a Twin’s game (I’m cheating as I know we are going to go to the autism night at the Twins in July.)
– Visit the MN zoo
– Make a piece of outdoor art for the garden
– Visit the como zoo
– Go to the library (I’m shooting for once a week, thinking of picking a day and having that be part of a routine.)
– Plant some flowers
– Try one of the free craft days at the park (This could be disaster, and in the past the thought of strangers and their children kept me from taking the Roc, but he’s come a long way. I need to try again)
– Play on the waterslide we bought last year
– Tie die t-shirts
– Find a new dam
– Plan an outing with a new friend
– Plan an outing with an old friend
– Go on a dinner/movie date with GC (okay, this one doesn’t include the Roc, but he’ll still be happy to hang out with Grandma.)
– Swim in 3 new pools
– Pick blueberries
– Try 3 of the experiments in the kiddie science books I bought at the neighborhood garage sale
– Find a new (to the Roc) waterfall
– Go to the movies
– Go for a spontaneous canoe ride
– Spend a whole day playing at home, really playing WITH the Roc
– Say yes, even when I feel like saying no
That last one is big. Sometimes I want to say no when we are invited places. It’s a lot of work to prep for each event. The Roc needs so much guidance that sometimes it’s easier and less stressful to stay at home. I know it’s better for both of us to go out.
I want this summer to be fun for the Roc, and me.
Only 87 days until the first day of school.
(I cannot be the only one who counted that out today.)