As I have mentioned before, my oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD, General Anxiety Disorder, and Impulse Control Disorder. He was also born with CHD (Congenital Heart Disease) and underwent three heart surgeries within the first 21 months of his life. He has definitely had his share of obstacles to overcome. Things that are easy and often taken for granted by other kids and parents are major milestones (and areas of stress) for our family. This is because on the outside he appears to look like an average, healthy child. However, his brain and emotions function on a completely different level. This makes life very difficult. When you see someone in a wheelchair, you do not expect them to get up and run. However, when you see someone with ADHD, ICD, anxiety, or many other mental / emotional disorders, they don't look any different; therefore, most people have a hard time changing their expectations.
Something as simple as going to camp would seem fun and exciting to most children. However, for our family it is filled with stress, anxiety, and the endless hours of waiting for a phone call to pick him up. I do not sign my kids up for every available camp just so I can get some "me time". Camps to me equal stress and anxiety of my own. I have been called countless times to come pick up my son because of his behavior. It took me a long time to realize that the organized chaos and noise level at most camps is just too much for him. Last summer I told myself we were not going to do any more camps. However, when both of my boys caught wind of this "awesome samurai camp" (held at their martial arts school) they begged me to sign them up. My husband and I discussed all of the "what if's" but when it came down to it we knew they were super excited and decided to take the plunge. We thought that maybe since it was at their martial arts school and they knew all of the instructors maybe that would make things easier. Besides, both boys deserve to give it a try. You never know, this may be the camp that is enjoyable and fun. I would hate to deny that to either one them.
So, yesterday was the first day... They were both very excited when I dropped them off. My husband and I went over our strategy in case one of us got "the call". We went the entire day without any phone calls! In fact, the couple of times I received calls from telemarketers I had minor heart attacks. When I picked them up I got a not so great report about our oldest. Long story short, he had a lot of anxiety about being separated from his little brother (divided by age groups) which he displayed as acting out. Ugh....here we go again, I thought. All of my emotions from the previous school year came flooding back. So badly, I wish he could just go with the flow and enjoy life. So badly, I wish I knew what it felt like to drop off my child and feel confident that he will have a great day. If that were the case, I may actually makes plans with my girlfriends or enjoy some of that much needed "me time". But no, I will glue my home phone and cell phone to my body. I even take them into the bathroom (sorry, is that too much info).
My husband and I discussed if we should even attempt going back for the rest of the week. Today's schedule also included a field trip to go roller skating, of all things! I am sure that sounds like fun for most but to me it sounded like throwing my child into a pit of hungry wolves. All I pictured was him standing in the middle of the rink, loud music, blaring lights, kids bumping into him, and his emotions running out of control. I prayed and prayed about it last night. At one point, I told God that I didn't even know what to pray anymore. I just want my son to be able to enjoy life like other children.
To be honest, the ADHD and anxiety has been much harder to deal with than the heart disease. I am sure that sounds strange. With heart disease, the surgeons and cardiologists gave us a clear path and plan that we needed to follow. I felt like we had an instruction manual. But, ADHD...anxiety...NO MANUAL, NOT A CLEAR PATH IN SIGHT. As a parent, you constantly feel lost.
As I drove to the school (to pick them up) my hands began to get sweaty and the nervous stomach was kicking in. I wasn't sure what kind of report I would get. However... when I walked in I got a glowing, superb report. He did it! He made it through the second day of camp. He apologized to the instructors for his behavior the day before. He gave rollerskating a great try. His instructor even told me he got a bit frustrated but he never gave up. He did it!!! It is a tiny glimpse of progress like today that will keep us going for a long time. He did it and we are so proud of him!
We always knew he is capable but now he got to see it for himself. Tomorrow is pajama day and they are not taking a field trip. Thank goodness!
**We always thank God for trusting us with him. He (God) must really believe in us! :)