Mom sees something bigger as son goes camping for the first time


 
 

Frances Lehning

Sean, my 14-year-old autistic son, is off to camp for the first time without my husband or me.

And how does that make me feel??

It stinks.

Internally I'm a wreck. Wondering. Worrying.

A million what-ifs running through my head…

When I packed his rain gear earlier I looked at the blue poncho and then the yellow one.

"Choose the yellow one," my head said, "it will be easier for the helicopters to spy."

Oh world, help me now!

I even packed an emergency kit for him-complete with whistle and compass-and told him to sit his butt down and wait for help in case he got lost.

My imagination is on overload as I envision all the horrible things that could happen to him while he's away from my side for a mere 42 hours.

And it's not just the thought of him getting lost in the woods or drowning in some nearby stream.

It's…

Will he remember to put on deodorant every day? Will he actually use the bar of soap he took with him and wash his hands at least once while he's out there?

Will he freak if he sees a spider in the outhouse?

Will he remember to change his clothes and pack them when it's time to come home?

Will he know when to get into the chow line or will he be off in his own world, wandering the camp, and talking to himself?

Will he eat the food provided or finish off the goodies from home we gave him in case the troop served something he couldn't eat due to his texture issues?

Oh the joys of parenting!

This weekend's decision did not come easily and was certainly not set in stone. Even last night I questioned my husband about our sanity.

Are we really going to let him go without us?

Sean was thrilled with the idea of going alone-if you consider traveling with nine Boy Scouts and three adults as "alone."

My husband took great pride in pretending to saw the umbilical cord between Sean and myself as the two of us hugged before he left.

I know he knew Sean was ready and this day was eventually going to come. But I swear I saw tears in my husband's eyes as he closed the car door to go.

I have not shed a single tear.

Instead, I'm simply going to remain in denial all weekend.

Sean's not out in the woods, away from home, without us. No, Sean merely is being unusually quiet.

Yeah. Let's go with that!

Sean called home tonight looking for his food bag. At least that answers one question! Even though we had told him numerous times before he left, Sean had forgotten that it had been given to a leader for safekeeping.

He said he put up his tent in record time. He was really proud of himself. It sounded like he was having a great time.

He asked how it was without him.

I handed the phone over to my husband as I choked back tears.

I was unable to come up with something that was both upbeat and yet conveyed just the right amount of missing him.

Whether or not he uses his deodorant or bar of soap, whether or not he earns any part of his merit badge or eats the food they make, this weekend is going to be a success.

A success for Sean because he went.

And a success for us because we let him go.

 
 





 
 
 
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