Show & Tell: “What I Did for My Summer Vacation”
I’m giving this summer the finger. Well, actually, I mean, well, the wave of us Mothers From Hell & Friends is the slightly raised third finger. And that’s me above driving The Divorce Mobile in two-thousand-and-something-or-another. And I’ve spent the whole danged summer in the car. Almost.
Deja vu. Oh, not a very pretty deja vu was it. Behind the wheel I had flashbacks of Early Intervention: those tense years where your young child is diagnosed with a (then) scary disAbility and you’re gripping the steering wheel all white knuckled as you cross over hill and dale of interstates and underpasses taking your backseated baby here and yound to this and that therapy….
This was the first summer, excepting 2007, (when I had a little bleep in perception,) that my daughter on the autism spectrum, (who cannot entertain herself except to tear her clothing, her toys and my house,) did not have a full day camp. When you are “young” on this journey you hear about this frightening reality referred to as falling off a cliff, aka: the great, black abyss. It’s when all intervention STOPS and you’re left by your lonely, albeit with your child alongside. Everyone else is doing the kicking the habit click (remember that?) of the heels for joy as their youngsters fly the nest to college, jobs and other realities. And here you are. By yourself. With your baby. Only she’s 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22….You get the picture.
So, like days of yore, this summer, we drove to a patchwork of this and that strung together while denying and trying to have a good attitude about the cliff from which we’d just plummeted. It was a killer. Killer, I tell ya. Three mornings a week, we navigated traffic in time for Grace’s job at Kroger via a Goodwill job training program. It lasted two hours. Long enough for me to go to Roast, order a latte and fire up the laptop before shutting it down and scurrying back over to Kroger. Midweek, Grace attended a “Talker Camp,” hosted by Metro Schools as a part of their “Exceptional Education” (interpret: politically correct buzz word for old term, which everyone still uses–Special Education,) Extended School Year program. The purpose of Talker Camp was to coach non- or less verbal students, like Grace, to communicate using Augmentative Communication Devices. Interpret: IPADs! Or, a clunker like we used to have.
Three weeks of afternoons, two of them consecutive, we hauled over to the chi-chi part of town to an innovative YMCA for a special needs camp, which meant Grace bobbed in the swimming pool for two of the three-hour camp. The Divorce Mobile thirstily consumed $100 of gas each of those weeks.
Ah, the Life: kicking off the summer, Princess Grace made her annual pilgrimage to the World of Mickey Mouse with her father, aka The Wuzband, followed by another summer ritual–Camp Phi-Phi. (My beloved sister Phyllis.) Then, she pulled a first timer and spent a week, including a week of summer nights, at Camp Widgiwagon via Easter Seals. wOOT! And then while I vacationed alone in Black Mountain, N.C., Grace returned to Camp Phi Phi, where the agenda included leisurely tub soaks, sleeping late, the water park, Bruster’s Ice Cream runs, professional mani-pedis and, I kid you not–massages.
About a month from summer’s end, at half-past noon, The Divorce Mobile arrived at an area Methodist Mega-Church for a spa & games (girls’ and boys’ activities, respectively) with their typically developing youth. (Too. Cool!) As I parked my black car so that it could soak up additional heat amid that day of 110 heat index, I noticed the parents of young adults doing the same–taxxing their offspring to the event. Oh. God. That’s when I got it: this summer is a look into the future of what my life is going to be….I whined about it at to The Mothers at one of our typical margaritas and tiara gatherings. Then, I took a deep breath and slept on it. For several nights. I awakened one morning to counting. In my head and on my fingers. I didn’t need to start in on my toes….I’ve got about six more years of school-year intervention before I fire up the full time taxi service….The Wuzband’s undying plea to relocate to Birmingham is looking sexier all the while. Read: he’s remarried. Darlings, I’m talking about a state that ranks supposedly higher than Tennessee 40th in terms of disAbility friendly services.
Meanwhile, I’m scrambling, along with The Mothers and the rest of my proactive disAbility friends to create a better Life in a state that doesn’t give a damn about the least of these. Tennessee, you see, is a Southern state governed by yahoos (and I’m NOT talking about the eponymously named search engine) who earn their tax dollar pay waxing about being pro-family and Anti-Gay, barring those immigrants from our fields and office clean-up crews and making it legal to take home Road Kill. For. Real. They did that. All of it.
At least when I get home from my daily interstate jaunts in The Divorce Mobile, I’ll have something to eat. Possum anyone?