Prayers! Maybe a few thoughts too but definitely prayers! Please. I don’t necessarily believe in a micromanaging god that will rescue me although I’ve always been partial to the BVM. A touch of divine intervention would not go unappreciated.
Backstory: Months ago when Julia’s transition program began, she was adamantly opposed to talking about future work, employment, volunteering, etc. This went on for what felt like a long time. Some of it was fear of new experiences and more transitioning and some of it was just plain digging in her heels. She digs deep.
The one employment that Julia was always willing to talk about was working at a Comicon—now rebranded as the FanExpo. This is something that she has mentioned in her IEP meetings for years now, and something the I dutifully tried to talk her out of as an unrealistic aspiration. I mean, Cons are 3 days long once a year in any given place. This is not a career!
Then last fall with all the difficulties of the transition experience, it dawned on me to just agree and use working at a Con as a giant carrot. By the late fall, I was saying to her, sure, she could work at a Con but that I couldn’t let her do that unless she knew how to work somewhere and to know how to work somewhere, she had to get experience. Community Connections (“CC”), her transitional program, was the perfect place to get experience. (Sorry if this is going over old material but I am inspired this morning to pull it all together.). Staff at CC and her therapist willingly chimed in, reinforcing the carrot of working at the Con and by early spring (early or late? I forget) Julia was volunteering two mornings a week at the library. She swore she couldn’t do it until she discovered she could. And then volunteered another morning at Cradle to Crayons. And this kept up through CC and into Extended School Year.
Behind the scenes, I had to get her that job. I found the guy, Bill, who hires for the Con, got in touch, told him everything and ask him to give Julia a job. I was prepared to beg for any volunteer task he would be willing to provide. Bill was incredibly wonderful. Julia had to go through filling out forms (online of course) and having an online interview, but the result was a job! And Julia’s first paid employment. (Yeah, I know 2 days’ worth but it is such a big deal in this house!) I hope that we meet him on Friday. If appropriate, I want to give him a big hug. Bill is responsible for almost a year’s worth of golden carrot!
So, the Con begins Friday. Julia is scheduled to work on Saturday and Sunday. She will be there with either her therapist or me. She tells me, rather constantly, that she wants to work independently and does not want us there, and I tell her that I will stay away from her immediate work area, but that I cannot leave. This cannot be an argument. Those are my terms. We usually have to go back and forth a few times before she agrees.
This is also her last week of day camp and so far the summer has been extraordinary. She did great at Extended School Year in July and followed that by a great camp week last week. So far (Tuesday, I know) this week is going well. In the beginning of the summer, I contemplated traveling some this year and decided against it and in favor of fully engaging in this last summer of supported activities for Julia. I cannot help but feel rewarded by my micro-managing dieties for that decision.
Next week she has sleep away camp which will be another totally new experience for her.
And herein lies my entreaty for prayers!
Ending summer activities that she knows and likes (ESY and day camp), working at the Con (which is going to be more than overstimulating) and going off to sleep away camp for the very first time seems, at least to me, like more transitions that a person with a typical brain can handle easily. Oh, and Cheshire’s baby is due the week after Julia comes back from camp. Julia is excited about our new family member but it has added another layer of transition into the mix of her life.
I have always tried, and many times failed, to foresee and prepare for change and transition in the gentlest way possible but I have no way to cushion any or all of this. She . . . and I . . . are diving into the deep end. I have never been able to guarantee any outcome for Julia, but this time, this week, feels particularly precarious. So, after all the carrots, putting her name in all her clothes for camp, prepping her for working, I am left with lighting candles, wishing on stars and a bit of praying to see us through.
As for me: This summer, this one that I gave up the idea of traveling anywhere, has been fruitful. I started swimming again—local pool that Julia got a free pass for and I joined so that we could take cool dips on the weekends. The pool has adult swim at noon every day and I began going to that. I am not swimming miles but I am improving. As I was doing laps one day, I saw that there was a water aerobic class during the last part of lap swim. Back in Madison, we belonged to the Shorewood Hills Pool for a few summers and I loved doing water aerobics with a bunch of old ladies. Not that I was young at the time, but younger than most. I am now in the perfect age demographic, and after a week of aerobic-ing, I am enjoying the company of my peers as well as the exercise. It is a perfect break in my writing days—after a few morning hours, putting butt in chair and typing away, moving is pure joy.
And the butt in chair has been pretty productive this summer. I’ve been doing extensive editing on the memoir. I’ve also joined a writing cohort of younger writers (so far they have not found the bits I’ve shown them to be completely irrelevant to their lives) and just submitted a backstory piece to a writing group I was invited to join (Lots of trepidation here but very excited for the first meeting next Friday). I’ve also generated many, many words of some newish first draft, most of which will need slash and burn editing but I had almost forgotten the freedom and scope of first drafting.
And (another “and”) I have begun to have some social life here—museuming at the Peabody Essex in Salem, the MFA and Harvard Museums, a few book club meetings, a show in town with friends, and some evening glasses of wine out. Julia stays home alone for some of these and I never go far. She has been pretty good about staying alone, texting me if she needs to and putting herself to bed when she is tired. Listing all that, it seems that I’ve done more socially this summer than I have the last two and a half years all together. For all of it, I am both grateful and pretty happy.
And (final “and”), I caught sight of our choir director at church last Sunday, back from traveling, and I smiled anticipating getting back to choir rehearsals and some good singing.