Today is the first time I have ever sent my oldest over state lines without her father. Today is the first day of summer youth camp. We have been planning for this since last year when she went to the local children's camp. She went without incident, and that was quite an important step in this Aspie girl's life towards autonomy.
As I got her ready for this day, I counted socks, underwear, swimsuits, towels, etc. We talked about the dangers of going places alone and the importance of the buddy system. I even explained the ever present topic of "Few people are interested in Pokemon," and what is a good topic to strike up with other girls in junior high and high school. Unfortunately, there was one thing I didn't plan for and it ruined my morning.
The youth director wanted the kids to be there by 7:30. My summer school director was kind enough to let me arrive late to work. I got my daughter to church at exactly 7:30, unloaded her gear, got her things onto a pull trailer and stood around talking to other moms. We had idle conversation. "Hi, what's your name?" "Which one is your daughter?" "How long have you come here?" "Cute top." All the while, I am watching my girl stand observing other people, standing in proximity to other girls, listening to their conversations, but not once saying hello or interjecting her two cents.
Departure time was not to be until 8:30. At 8:15, the youth director began giving directions. I noticed that I was one of only a handful of parents who stayed to see their kiddos off. The youth director announces the number of vans, SUVs and minivans. My daughter is sitting next to a girl, but isn't showing her any regard. Then I begin wondering who she will be riding with, but wanting her to independent, I let her figure that out. This turned out to be a mistake.
I walked up behind her and asked, do you know what van you will be riding on. I hear her mention a group of girls, but I start counting them and they are riding in an SUV, and they are just the right amount with no room for more. What do I do? I try to let her figure it, but she gets up when they call the white SUV and then have to tell her that there are too many people for that van. Try another.
In the end, I see that everyone has chosen a vehicle except her. I begin to get annoyed and have flashbacks of years of being left out as a teenager. Trying not to transfer my feelings upon her, I have to problem solve because I realize that the youth director is not directing. (Why hasn't he been more proactive in signing up for vans?) I am quickly scanning vans. I think I see an opening and question the driver. There is another girl standing outside the van waiting for a seat. The driver is moving a suitcase, and I'm thinking it's for my girl. It's not. I question him again because I am certain there is a spare spot between to teens in the front bench. There is. The driver makes them move. She gets on the van and I feel a slight sense of relief. Then begin to wonder again.
What will the rest of the week be like? Will she be searching for a bunk? Are the people she is sitting next to going to include her in conversation? Is someone in the clinic going to remind her to take her medication? Was this year too soon to send her off to camp? If not now, when? Should I have said more on her registration slip? (These people have supposedly known her since she was 3.) Should I have pulled one of the sponsors aside? Would that be setting my girl up for people to have preconceived notions about her?
I walked to my car trying not cry. Trying not to let people see me cry. I drive off to the convenience store parking lot next door to finish crying. By the end of the day of work, I was still/am on the verge of tears. Tears of anger and frustration, thinking I should have done more.