Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ferry Beach

We are back from our final "camping" weekend. Actually it is a gathering of our church and another sister church that happens annually.  One can rent dorm rooms but that would be pricey for our family. Tent sites are MUCH more affordable and also allow Chet to have a place and space that he can decompress in.  This is important.  The sounds of dorm life are minimal to those of us who are neuro typical. To my eldest son, it is a cacophany and he can't tune it out or turn it off.

It was chilly, And yes, it rained, making all but one of our campouts have rain at some point.  Kind of a weird record but there you go!  Still, it was a lot of fun. It was very relaxing to me because there is not a lick of cooking or cleaning that one does while at this event. Zero.  I repeat, ZERO!

The kids have a zillion friends, as do I. And they were all off doing their things while I chatted with mine.  We had a family beach walk when we first got there, but other than that, mostly everyone did their own thing.

I love to talk with people.  What inspires people, what upsets people, what makes them tick--it is all interesting to me.  So I did a lot of talking and even more listening.  I also had a lot of time to read. I brought my kindle and had more uninterupted reading time than I have had in years.

I helped provide supplies for the Saturday night bonfire--that was fun.  The weather was not warm enough for swimming but it was great for kite flying, playing on the beach, finding ducks looking for their dinners and more.

Saturday night is also the talent show.  KC played a piece he wrote himself.  Lissa did a gymnastics routine she worked out with her BFF.  Rob was his usual easy going self, hanging out with teens and adults alike.

But the star of this weekend was my Chet.  And I am beyond thrilled.  Chet's actual presence there was in jeopardy a few weeks back as his behaviors were wildly out of control.  I don't know why.  Sometimes I know a trigger but not always.  However we had a long serious talk and made a specific action plan of what he needed to change in order to come to Ferry Beach.

I was worried.  Often when he wants something the most is when he shoots himself in the foot with poor behavior choices. But this time, he pulled it together and came with us.  He did well at the restaurant we had supper in on Friday night.  He was relatively calm during the set up of our campsite.

He loves to be "bell hop" for the church members and friends who arrive through out the evening.  He knows the room assignments and helps people unload and get to their room.  He has done this for years and folks really look forward to it.  This year he also took on a role in the dining hall, bussing dishes for people and helping to wipe down the tables.

His efforts were noticed and the weekend coordinators asked me if they should get him a gift card or something to thank him.  I said no, that for Chet being able to be there, and to contribute in a postive way was also a gift for him.  He gets great emotional value from the experience and did not need a gift card.  Instead, they asked him to stand after breakfast and gave him a formal thank you and a round of applause from the 100 or so people there.  He glowed, and I gave thanks.

So many times in Chet's life, I have to explain.  Explain that he didn't mean to be rude, or that he has challenges understanding personal space. Explain the unusual facial tics that sometimes happen when he is stressed. Explain the fact that he doesn't get social cues and know when to end a conversation or a topic.

But this weekend, I didn't have to do any of those things.  Most of the people there have known Chet for a long time.  This helps them to see beyond the quirks so to speak and see the giving nature that is very much a part of his personality. This is a gift I will remember for a long, long time.

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