December 2, 2013 by Angel Pricer
It’s probably not a good idea to try to write a coherent blog post with a sick little boy in the house. I’ve spent all day, on and off, trying to recap our family’s first visit to see our son at The Hunter School. After many interruptions, I’ve decided to cut it short and just stick with the basics, though there’s so much more in store.
On Thanksgiving Day, my husband, youngest son, in-laws and I drove half of our 20 hour round trip to spend 24 hours with my son. It had been exactly four weeks to the day since my husband and I took him to The Hunter School and, aside from the food lodged between brace brackets and longer than ever finger nails, he was the picture of healthy adjustment and a joyful bundle of energy, eager to give the family a tour of his home away from home.
He fed Princess Leia and Chewbacca (the goats), checked the mailbox in the hen house for eggs, put away the Legos, anti-coloring book, dry erase board and markers and other items the family brought to make his room time more enjoyable, and filled us in on all the ways he and his peers work together to keep things running smoothly.
In the comfort of our rented farmhouse, he ate his favorite breakfast sausage and told us that the Not Dogs and Soysage he’s been eating at school aren’t so bad, but the Facon Bacon tastes just like the treats they feed to Atticus, the house dog. I’m not really sure just HOW he knows this.
He spent Thanksgiving Day with a houseparent and some peers at the home of one of the staff members, where he enjoyed “real” turkey, playing with a ‘big brother’ role model and Hunter School alumnus, and generally enjoying the change of pace and scenery the holidays offer.
Earlier in the week, some of the kids from another house on campus invited him to dinner and a game of Monopoly. He was so happy, telling the houseparent he’d “never been invited to a friends’ house before.” Though there were times my friends invited me and the boys over for play dates, it is true that he’s never received an invitation, from a friend, just for him. So, at nine years old and several states away, my son is beginning to enjoy the experience of being accepted and included by his peers. It’s well worth the trip!
While wonderful new experiences abound, old habits have a way of resurfacing once back in the family fold. We were agreeable to incorporating his favorite activities (namely video games and video watching), into our time together, but that one day made it obvious that we need some very clear parameters for the two weeks he will be home in December.
Our time together wasn’t all food and videos, we played (but didn’t finish) Monopoly, colored in stained glass kits, created real flying dragons, and played in the frozen creek until I couldn’t feel my thighs anymore. He even trimmed his own fingernails, with the help of his nana, for the first time! We were close to striking a balance between on and off screen activity, but there were other factors that created tension during our visit. With four well-meaning adults, each with their own approach to process, resolve or brush under the carpet the early warning signs of an impending meltdown, it’s no wonder there were some hurt feelings and inevitable misunderstandings.
A (mostly) silent observer can learn a lot in three days of family travel, and considering the conditions under which ours was travelling; well, you can imagine, it gets complicated. But that’s where I’ve got to leave it for today. I’m just too weary from the midnight fevers and blood curdling nightmare induced screams of a certain 7 year old boy to go on. And anyway, someone needs a hug.