To be sure, life has not given me many opportunities to sit still of late. But today I am quiet with the tail end of a cold, the boys are tucked away nose to the screen, I'm sure, with Pokemon or Firefly or Team Fortress 2. I don't have the energy to argue, and besides, it gives me a chance to update my blog!
Both Harry and Toby returned last Sunday from weeks away at Camp Tawonga. Harry was there for three weeks as a Specialist in Training. It was energizing and fun, full of new friendships, inside jokes and new responsibilities. He seems to have thrived in so many ways while there and plans to return next year to do it again. Toby also loved camp, but he says not as much as last year. Hard to believe since his big brother was there as a staff member at the same time, but this is what he says. Harry also related to me that Toby seemed homesick a lot, even into the second week, which surprised me. Maybe it's hard to go back the second year when you have been envisioning it as a repeat of the first wonderful camp experience. Maybe it just can't live up to that memory. Anyhow, he's still talking about "next year" when he goes back, so it wasn't bad.
On this end, it is good having them home and after the initial bumpy "reentry" period life seems to be back to normal.
Ben had a particularly hard time accepting their return. Life as an only child for my middle son was quite sweet! He and I travelled to LA to visit Papa Joel and many cousins two weeks ago. We stayed at the Best Western Sunset Plaza on the Sunset Strip. The hotel had a lovely pool. Got to have an eyeful of the babes du cosmetic surgery lining the pool's edge, too. I'm sorry, but boobs just don't come like that naturally! (Ok, so I've truly become a cornpone, living in the country as I do, gray hair, no make up and definitely, no cosmetic surgery for me! I just think bodies look better au natural.) We had a good trip, saw lots of family and friends in a very short time, and spent some quality time together, too.
Last week Ben and I went camping in Mendocino with several other moms and kids. The kids played LARP (I've mentioned this before, Live Action Role Play with foam weapons, etc.) and the moms hung out together. It was a fantastic week. The moms really bonded and the boys had amazing adventures for three days straight.
Most challenging for Ben was the pain he has begun to feel as his curve gets worse. The downside of the adjustable rod technique is that while he grows it holds his spine down and it seems Ben was feeling more aches, more muscle spasms and less flexibility during his heavy play. This was new. He'd been very active until recently with both LARP and swimming. But, the length of the days playing, the intensity of the play, and the constant bashing of swords against brace and body took their toll. By the middle of the second day he was in excruciating pain.
Face white as a sheet I took him into our tent, laid him down and tried to soothe him with word and touch. Not much helped. His mood became very dark. These are such difficult days for Ben. I recall the time, in the months before his February surgery, he hid in his closet crying and wanting to kill himself. Again, he has hit the bottom, wanting to trade in his life for another issue. Being unable to engage in his favorite activity took everything out of him. "I hurt," he told me as we sat in the warm tent. "Where is the pain? Can I massage that spot?" I ask him naively. "No, Mom. I HURT. Inside. All of me." I am blown away by his ability to talk about that emotional pain. His sharing it with me. I ended up just sitting, quietly, waiting for the hurt to get more fuzzy as his energy returned.
Eventually, he went back to play with the other LARPers. He had struggled with wanting people to know his situation and wanting no one to know. Wanting accomodations and not wanting to do anything different. It's a hard line to walk. Sitting in the tent we had talked about the challenges everyone faces, that he is not alone in facing demons, overcoming obstacles to just living life. In a group of homeschoolers it's easier to find the kids with issues, of course. We tend to be a self-selected group of square pegs! But that is excellent. Especially for my boy who up until he turned 8 lived a golden life in which it all came so easily to him. Not much easy these days.
The next surgery cannot come soon enough. Two weeks and a couple days from now. He is brewing a cold, which I pray does not blossom. Any respirartory ailment could cause the surgery date to be postponed and that could mean waiting until October! I don't actually think he could do it, the pains being as severe as they are. So he is in bed, sipping chicken broth and watching movies on Netflix instant download.
I will be taking the boys camping on Sunday for a few days with our new homeschool crowd, a group of very wonderful moms and kids all seeking deeper commitments and relationships in our community. We're again going up to the Navarro River in Mendocino county, but this time just to lounge, play in the river, hike around, and roast marshmallows at night. We're packing our board games, knitting, foam weapons, and nerf guns. How well rounded!
When we return we'll be packing Ben and Mark for the journey to Philadelphia. I'm putting that aside for the moment. It's a lot to hold on to, you know?