Sunday, August 19, 2007

Surf camp and parenthood

As a hopeful parent to be I am lately fascinated by this thing called parenthood. I watch moms and dads with their kids and am amazed at the amount of sacrifice involved. As someone with no (living) children, to believe that one day soon I, too, will be using my bare hands to wipe snot off my kid or get up 10 times in one night to feed him/her or save enough money to keep me in spa treatments, in Manhattan, for the rest of my life, but instead use it to send Baby G to college, seems outrageous.

This weekend J and I went to the Hamptons with my sis's and bro's in laws to help my cool SIL run a surf camp for autistic children. It was, in a word, breathtaking. To see these kids face their fear of water, the life jacket, strangers, noise, whatever, and still go out and sit (and in many cases stand) on a surfboard was so, so beautiful. To watch little Isaac, who was maybe 4, go from screaming bloody murder about his mom letting go of his hand on the stairs to being dropped by a 5 foot wave (approximately 3 feet taller than he is) and come up laughing his cute little ass off was really moving.

What was also moving was the dedication these parents showed to their kids. We were literally there all day, and at 1 pm or so my niece and nephew (and husband, I may add) decided to bury me in the sand. A few of the surf camp children came up as well and joined in. There were maybe 5 kids there, and the level of affectedness and ability to interact was quite varied. But the one constant thing was their nearby mom or dad or both, guiding them, helping them interact, involving them in the process, or, in some cases, working alongside them in silence as a constant presence. None of the parents looked tired, or stressed, as I am sure they are. They just looked so happy to be there, on a sunny day, watching their children have fun.

I have a dear friend with a son who has autism and I read his blog faithfully. I would say religiously but I don't do anything with religion anymore. But I digress. Anyway, he and his wife have a 5 (?) year old who is autistic and they recently moved to a bigger city due to R's job, and the good news is they have a great program for his son. The amount of time and work these parents put in to provide T a great life is amazing, it is beautiful, and it is totally 100% normal for them. Meaning, this is their life. When T hugs his mom or sings, it is their favorite moment of the day.

People say having a child with any developmental disability is really hard, and I have to say I agree. However, every parent, regardless of where their child is on the growth, IQ or social skills chart, seems to get so much out of that child. I love that. I can't wait for that. And if we are blessed with a healthy child, great. And if over time something develops, we will do what my friend R, and millions of other parents with children that need help, do - we will make it happen for our child.

What a cool group to be a part of.

As I type this with my nicely manicured fingers which i have time to go and get, drinking a cup of tea I can sip at my leisure, about to go to bed for a solid 8 hours of sleep uninterrupted by the 2 am feeding, making plans with friends for dinners and shows, I say, bring it on. I am ready. I am ready to make it not all about me.

Do me a favor, readers? Print this and send it to me when our baby is about 3 months old. I have a feeling I may forget I wrote this.


Blogger Rob said...

You & J are going to be GREAT parents! I'm glad you're jumping into the pool.

Thanks for the nice words here.

8:35 AM  

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