Last night, Brooks sat straight up at bedtime and said to his dad “Umm…there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.” And then his voice began to crack as he described how a girl at camp told him to stop staring at her, how she did not say it nicely, that he was only looking at her because he wanted to get to know her and how that made him feel confused.
I had mixed emotions as I walked into his darkened bedroom. I was heartbroken at the thought of a girl finding my son creepy and not understanding that he meant no harm; I was saddened that he was hurt by what she said, and that he doesn’t have the social maturity to make her understand that he meant no harm; but ultimately, I was elated that he was able to tell us what happened in full 7-year-old detail, and that he asked for our help. In the past, situations like these have translated into “I think I’ll be sick tomorrow so I can’t go to school,” prompting us to play detective with teachers and therapists to uncover what’s really wrong.
Overall, this half-summer at Camp Yomawha has been a fantastic experience for Brooks. He won a race, he performed in a talent show, and he climbed to the top of a rock wall “the hard way” (whatever that means!) — one of only three in his group to do it. And, the counselors tell us that Brooks is very popular with the kids and grown-ups alike. But for the first few mornings, he waved goodbye to me on Bus D with tears rolling down his cheeks. And one morning during the second week, he said to me: “August camp is very long.”
The solution we came up with for the “girl problem” was to enlist the help of the camp’s Special Ed Coordinator the very next day. She wisely moderated a short talk between Brooks and the girl and…Voilà! They became friends.
Camp ends this week. Brooks will miss it, but he will also be relieved. Next year, we’re planning to send him for the whole summer. Bring it on.