Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Hours of Togetherness

I have to start by saying, as I just sat down to write this, Monkey Boy approached me with something small and brown in his hand. "This is for you, Mommy!" he told me excitedly. It took me a few seconds to realize it was a piece of slightly melted chocolate. Part of his daily chocolate from the Advent calendar, which he'd just offered me unprompted. Aaaaw...yes, this is definitely one of those moments to remember :-)

Yesterday was one of those days that could have ended up very enjoyable or incredibly irritating. I had everything scheduled back-to-back: First, pop in play at our local Pump it Up with one of Monkey's friends from school; Second, Monkey accompanying me to a church in a neighboring city, where I am working at a holiday camp for kids with disabilities this week (or, as my husband enjoys saying, "therapizing"); Third, on to another neighboring city (I use this term loosely, as DFW is a BIG metroplex - this one is about 45 miles from home) where I had a dance practice for a special choreography some of the advanced dancers are doing at Burns' Night in January. Start time? We left the house at 10:00 am. End time? We returned home at 10:00 pm. Yes, that is 12 straight hours of togetherness, excluding only one 2 minute potty break by myself (the other 4 potty breaks were joint ventures).

Pump it up was a blast, of course. I mean, who wouldn't love a giant room full of inflatables? The hard part is letting the little people jump and staying off the fixtures yourself! Monkey and his friend played nicely, his mum and I had a nice little chat (she's British, so I feel wrong calling her a mom), and both boys got a lot of energy out - perfect! After saying goodbye, we hopped in the car and headed out to camp, Monkey happily eating string cheese, applesauce and carrot sticks in the backseat as I drove.

Camp went very well, which is always nice. I had five 30-minute sessions with groups of 8 to 11 campers in each, and the majority were having great days and made awesome behavioral choices during group. Monkey was a big help, helping me pass out instruments, assisting campers who had trouble grasping things, singing along. One thing I really like about working in special ed is the opportunities when I can bring my son to work with me and let him interact with my friends (as he calls them). While Monkey has a hearing impairment, most of the kids I
work with have much more severe disabilities and it is a great learning experience for him to play with my friends. Each time I bring him to work, I give him the little reminder beforehand: "Remember, mommy's friends are special in different ways that you and me. Some of them talk differently, some of them walk differently, some of them hear differently, etc. It's okay to have questions about my friend's differences, but when is an appropriate time to ask those questions?" Monkey always tells me the same thing, and he lives by these words: "I'll ask you questions in the car on the way home, mommy. If I ask you questions in front of your friends, they might feel sad."

When we left camp, Monkey pointed to the word on the sleeve of my staff long-sleeve t-shirt: HEROES (this acronym is the name of the camp). "Mommy, you were a hero today for those friends, just like your shirt says." Words cannot express the emotions that welled up inside me at that moment. I knelt down and gave him a big hug. "You were a hero for them today, too, sweetheart."

Monkey was so helpful at camp I told him he got to pick where we'd eat dinner on the way to the dance studio. I expected him to say Subway (his favorite restaurant), but instead found myself seated at a booth in an iHop that was in a less-than-desirable area of the city we were in. Oh well, we definitely overheard some interesting conversations! Monkey had "man-size chocolate chip pancakes", of course. We still got to the dance studio about an hour early (I'd decided to go straight on from camp to avoid the INSANE rush hour traffic on 635 as everyone flees downtown Dallas at the end of the workday). Monkey decided we should visit the "double ducks" at the park across the street from the studio. He was shocked to learn that I'd "forgotten" the bread. I admit, I don't remember to keep stale bread in my car for surprise "double duck" encounters. If that makes me a bad mommy, so be it!

Monkey amused himself during my dance rehearsal and even decided to show off his new skills in the Sword Dance (which he is currently learning) when we took a water break. He was so wound up by the time we left, I was expecting him to pass out pretty much as soon as the car started, and he didn't disappoint. The ride home was dark as peaceful, as I admired the lights of downtown Dallas and listened to Monkey's gentle snores.

It was a good day. He is a kind and considerate child, and I feel so blessed when his actions and words remind me of that.

No comments:

Post a Comment