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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Camping's Not for Sissies.....or for People Who Like to Bathe

I have to admit.

Sometimes, going somewhere with a special needs child, well, it can be a pain in the keister.

I'm probably not supposed to say that. I'm probably supposed to just go on being a beacon of inspiration for other parents of children with Autism by displaying unwavering strength, stamina, and patience.

But that would be a load of doodie.

Because it is hard sometimes.

Most of the time.

I don't whine very often around here, but when I do, you know it's for a good cause. Mainly to make myself feel better.


Our family prides itself on trying to exist within the most possible realm of "normalcy" we can. We go to the beach, we go bowling, we've taken an intercontinental vacation......and in ten days, we will go to the Sierras and go camping for a week.

And I am scared out of my mind.

Not of actually camping. My first trip was in the comfort of my mother's womb and I was hooked. The tent isn't nearly as cozy, but we make do.

Nope. I am terrified of Monchichi and his growing height and speed and desire to explore the world at his whim. I can no longer strap him into the carseat and place him a safe distance away from the campfire. I can no longer rely on his stroller to keep him safe so that I can finish my People magazine in peace. I am no longer more entertaining than the millions of hazards that exist on your average campground. And I am not willing to give up a yearly family tradition just because it will be inconvenient and frightening.

So I am at a camping crossroads, so to speak.

I have reached the fork in the trail.

I am caught between a rock and a river.

Sorry.

I am not gonna lie to you and tell you that I am looking forward to this little trip 100%.

I am feeling stressed out and overwhelmed; kind of like I do when I take the kids to the park by myself only a million times more. This is when our parent training and Monchichi's therapy is truly tested. How much have we gained? Where are we going from here? What more can we do, as a family, to keep on truckin?

It would be easy to close the curtains, turn on the A/C, and bask in the lonliness and frustration that sometimes seeps into our lives as we face daily hurdles and navigate around new obstacles. And believe me. There are days. It is never perfect, and you can never plan enough, and even the best intentions turn out disasterous once in a while.

But to give up on what life has to offer because it takes a little more foresight and a lot more energy, well, that would be like giving up on Monchichi. And in the words of his therapist, that is Not A Choice.

So we are packing for success.

A glimpse of our not-so-mainstream supply list:

Zip ties for the tent, so the stinker can't escape in the middle of the night.

Battery operated cause and effect toys. And lots and lots of batteries.

Books about Wall-E and Lightining McQueen, and Tractors.

Soup cans. Corn cans. Bean cans. Not to eat; to peel and play with.

Pillar Candles

Candlesticks

Bright Orange Construction Fencing. Yards of it.

Blow up pool

Battery operated tent fan

Spongebob Squarepants Paraphenilia

And anything that is cylindrical in shape, unbreakable in design, shiny in appearance, and full of liquid.



To omit these ncecessary and potentially life saving items would be an amatuer move. And we are not amatuers.

But we are parents who are trying super hard not to give in to the status quo and accept limitless limitations, just because our son's medical records look different than yours.



So, ideas, suggestions, prayers and praise are most welcome.



And since I've done my research and discovered a tiny little cafe with wi-fi not far from our campground, I will give you updates on our sanity, or lack thereof.

You know.

In-between chasing, pleading, bribing, redirecting, yelling, priming, reinforcing, taking solar-heated showers from a vinyl bag, and maybe, if there's time, eating polish sausage right off the grill.

2 comments:

Crystal D said...

Wow! I have not yet been brave enough to take our girls camping. Something about it totally overwhelms me. However this is an experience I do not want them to miss out on due to my lack of guts. So, eventually we'll go camping.
But when we do, I am going to ask for all your tips. :)
Good Luck!

Abez said...

You're a braver woman than I am, Jo! I've passed on two camping trips this year because I am terrified of what would happen if Khalid (who in addition to being Autistic, is only three!) wandered fifteen feet away from us and into the great sandy yonder.

Out here, we do desert camping, which is gorgeous- the sand dunes reflect the light of the moon and the millions of stars in a sky completely unblemished by a single tree or cloud- but the vast, sandy expanse is a fence-less, infinite nightmare for me when it comes to keeping tabs on Khalid. I don't know if I'll be ready to take him camping. Until he's twenty. :p