Thursday, August 24, 2006

The traveler returns

We picked our eldest up from the airport yesterday after a 2 week whirlwind tour of Greece. He seems at least an inch taller, his voice is a pitch deeper, and he carries himself with more confidence.

This child with AS who at age 5 had such violent tantrums we were afraid he would inadvertantly hurt himself or one of us. The boy who ended up curled in the fetal position in the corner of the dentist's office when the hygienist tried to brush his teeth with a different flavored toothpaste. This sensitive child who used to run from his classroom and out of the school when he was overwhelmed by the sensory and emotional demands of a group of 20 other 2nd graders.

"Things change and so will you."

The quote I vividly remember from a children's book called "Seeing Eye Willie" by Dale Gottlieb.

At just shy of thirteen and standing 5'6" tall, with broad shoulders and feet far larger than his dad's, P. is a far cry from the wide-eyed kindergartener I took to school for his first day 8 years ago.

Although he had been excited about the trip to Greece all year, when the departure date got closer, I know he was nervous about handling the social demands of two weeks in close quarters with a group of a dozen 7th and 8th graders, some of whom he'd had social 'bumps' with.

And this was the first time he'd been away from home (with the exception of visits to grandparents, which is a different ball game). Traveling so far in space and time (Greece is 7 hours ahead of EST) meant that I was not easily available for him as a touchstone.

The day I packed his suitcase, I imagined folding myself in it between his shirts and shoes.

He managed his money, dealt with different hotels every night and only lost a hat. (Well, he left a pair of sneakers in the hotel at Delphi, but the group returned there for a night on the way back to Athens and they had the sneakers for him.)

And along the way, he learned that other kids felt homesick and vulnerable. That the social dynamics were fluid and the who's in/who's out also affected his companions. That other kids had their own issues. That he could call me anytime of the day or night and I would tell him that I loved him. (He did and I did.) That he had the resources to problem solve without me.

Am I proud of my son?

You bet.

He is growing into a fine young man with a loving heart and a good head on his shoulders.

"Things change and so will you."

5 comments:

Sharon said...

That is so wonderful! I'm glad he had a good trip, and thanks for reminding us of the unknown good things that lie ahead.

mumkeepingsane said...

My eyes are filled with tears (of joy of course). That's just super. In my wildest dreams that kind of independance is what I hope for my son.

Natalia said...

i didn't even know i was aspie until after graduate school and i can't imagine having gone on a trip like that in middle school. sounds great!

Kristina Chew said...

How beautiful---what a summer trip to remember!

(I have actually never been to Greece myself.)

LJCohen said...

We pick up his photos tonight! I can't wait to see them. He took 11 rolls of film, but since he, like me, is not a strongly visual processor, it will be interesting to see what his pictures come out like.

:)

I'm notorious for cutting off people's heads. LOL.