Tag Archives: summer

End of an Era

With the school year ending, it’s time for me to hang up one of my hats – for good. For the past year and a half, I have been homeschooling Nigel, and in September he will attend the high school for a full day, so I will no longer be his academic teacher. When he started back at the middle school in March, it was only part-time, so I continued to homeschool him for language arts and social science. He made some amazing progress in those areas, writing a total of five essays, including a comparative analysis of Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. His case manager at the middle school was so impressed that she took a copy of that essay to give to his future teachers at the high school. I’ll have to make sure they realize how much of an effort it was for him to complete that; it took him weeks to write it. They need to be aware of that before they expect him to produce more work – or at a faster pace – than he is capable of doing.

At any rate, come September my academic responsibility will be limited to helping him with assignments and encouraging his organizational skills. I will no longer be designing his curriculum, preparing lesson plans, or teaching the material. It was doable in middle school, even though it took me a while to get used to the idea, but I don’t think I could do it for high school. I mean, I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, but there’s a lot of high school knowledge that I would need to relearn in order to teach it to my son. It would take quite a bit of effort and time, and as a single parent of two, I’m in short supply of those items. I also had to radically reduce my work hours so that I could homeschool Nigel for the amount of time that I did; as a result, my bank account is in sorry shape. So continuing to homeschool is really not an option, and I’m glad that Nigel no longer needs it. We’re both looking forward to his return to full-time regular school, for many reasons.

But there’s something else that happens at the end of every school year, and has for the past eight years: Nigel and Aidan go visit their dad in Los Angeles for several weeks. LA is nearly 700 miles away from us; it’s a long drive. And another world away. They get a taste of big-city life, get to bodysurf on warm beaches, and Nigel gets to go to the day camp for autistic kids. These are all things they get to do that they can’t do at home in southern Oregon, and I am glad that they have the opportunity.  I’m also glad they get to spend time with their dad, whom they miss so much during the school year. But I miss them while they’re gone every summer. It’s just consuming, this missing. It’s not like when they’re gone for a week at Spring Break. One week is nothing. But seven, eight, is a daunting expanse that cannot be filled. Maybe I’m being melodramatic – I mean, after all, we go through this every year. But it never gets easier. I walk down the hall and see their empty rooms. I can’t watch a movie or eat ice cream without thinking of them and missing them. True, I’m keeping busy, especially since I’m back at work full-time, thanks to my wonderful employers. Life is full and good, but there’s this void with the boys gone. It doesn’t feel natural. I feel disjointed without them. And I’ve got a long summer ahead of me.

Since it’s impossible for me to go more than a month without seeing them, I’ll be visiting them next month, so that will break up the time, make it a little more bearable. For a while now, Nigel’s been requesting to go to the Grand Canyon, so three weeks from today, that’s what we’ll be doing. I can’t wait to share another adventure with them, but mostly I can’t wait to see them, hug them, to be in their presence. Of course, until then, I have phone calls to look forward to: “Hello, Mom. This is Nigel [insert last name] speaking.” Or perhaps a conversation like this one. Oh, well. I’m just happy to hear their voices.

So summer begins. And it just dawned on me that I’ve essentially combined two separate posts here – the end of homeschooling and missing my kids. Correlation? Nada. Let that be a testament to how disjointed I feel with my sons being away! I can’t even write!

Beach Camp

It’s so quiet that it feels like the house is holding its breath. Today marks the half-way point of my sons’ summer visit with their father for seven weeks.  They return on August 1, and I am longing to hear their voices and footsteps fill the house again.

I remember when I was growing up in the seventies I would read books and see movies from the fifties and sixties about kids going away to camp for the summer. It was for much longer than one or two weeks; it was like, two months. Remember the original Parent Trap? They were gone for so long they were able to fool their parents when they got back! It just seems like that was the thing to do then – go to camp for the summer. I never did as a child. And although I wondered about it, I was glad that I didn’t have to go. I like the outdoors, but I would miss home. And what about the parents? Did they want to send their kids to camp, or did they do it because it was the socially acceptable thing to do? I try to imagine what that was like.

So I pretend that my boys are away at camp. They’re at Beach Camp. I just talked to them last night, and it sounds like that’s what they’re doing the most, what they enjoy – going to the beach. They both like to boogie-board, which is amazing to watch. I saw them do it when I visited them in LA three and four summers ago.  It is wonderful to watch your autistic child excel at something. It’s wonderful to watch any child excel at something, autistic or not, but there’s more gratitude concerning the autistic child. Because not too many years ago I wondered if mine would enjoy doing things like that, would enjoy anything other than watching Disney videos and lining up Hot Wheels cars end to end along the back of the couch and leaning his head to one side to stare at them. Yes, I am grateful that my autistic child has learned to boogie-board, and he likes it.

I have much to be grateful for. I think that is the key to getting through the next three and a half weeks of missing my sons. I’ll keep in mind all the things I appreciate about them, what makes them special as individuals. Just like the twins in The Parent Trap. Their parents were happy when they came home from camp, too. But at least I’m able to tell my kids apart!