Summer camp for some is not the Rockwellian image of children running to find their bunk mates. When I pulled up to my son’s summer day camp, my eyes burned with tears of compassion and my heart echoed the burden as I watched the men and women unload. Parents and caregivers carefully opened doors or released lifts to their various makes and models of vehicles. The bodies of the humans that walked or rolled out of the cars where full grown adults, some with the minds of children; some reflecting a happy five year old, some an insulant and angry eight year old. One mother carefully guided her six foot man child to the proper circle of special education volunteers. She touched him gently and carefully redirected him when he hinted at a moment of defiance. This young man spot lights one of the many “syndromes” that this summer camp encompasses. “Fragile X,” “Angelman,” “Downs,” “Autism,” “Cerebral Palsy”, “UNKNOWN”, and the list goes on of disabilities that stamped and classified them. These babies, some at birth, others a few months later, went from precious baby girl or handsome little man to, “I’m so sorry to tell you your child has…” fill in the disability.
My son was around eight months when we finally received the diagnoses of cerebral palsy. I wonder as I watched these parents if they pitied me because my son is twisted and bent and slobbers. I wonder if they think to themselves, “Whew, I’m grateful my daughter can walk, feed herself, and is toilet trained” I’m thinking, “Whew, I’m grateful my son can’t run away or harm another person”. We each accept our trial and no one wants to trade.
Thankfully I didn’t know when he was stamped with a label at eight months what that meant and I don’t know now what my son’s future will be but for this day, for this present, I have the joy of serving a young man that is handsome, smart, trapped in a body that won’t cooperate, and unfortunately has to wear the clothing I decide to dress him in. He may be thinking, “Oh crud, not the pink polo again” but since he has limited communication I’ll never know! I choose to highlight his gifts and not his disabilities. Since he’s so stink’in cute and his smile lights up a room, I’m guessing that trapped in that skinny body is a male model. #