The Adventures Of Fatherhood – July 30, 2021

Pardon the proud parent moment, but I am incredibly impressed with Carson completing his school’s five-week summer academy.

Back in the spring, we debated whether Carson would enroll until the last minute. When the deadline came, we decided to go ahead and sign him up. All the while Pam and I were of the mindset he might not go, and it would be fine if he didn’t. Though it’s best for kids on the spectrum to stay within a structure of school and not fall behind over the summer, Carson actually had a robust school year. He was only in distance learning for about five weeks. Some kids missed five months. Because of his disabilities, he was always in the first wave of kids welcomed back. We were fortunate on that front.

As a result of him having a good school year, we did not want to force summer school. We did want to try, however, as we knew it was the best thing for him not to go three months without school. Therefore, we referred to summer school as “camp,” even if it was in the same building and we followed the exact same routine each morning. On the way to “camp,” we listened to crazy and loud music, ranging from country to rap to metal (occasionally mixing in a Los Angeles traffic report), and parked in a doctor’s office parking lot across from school for a nice walk each morning. We did this exact same thing during school.

I would joke with him every morning how lucky he was to get to go to “camp,” while I had to head to work. My guess is on the first day of “camp” he realized he had been hoodwinked. He’s sharp and nothing gets passed him. When his morning included literacy, math, science and speech therapy, I am sure he was disappointed. The good news was his afternoons included lighter times for art, physical activity and wellness. There were also a couple field trips mixed in. Nonetheless, I am sure he knew what he was involved in. He was at his school with teachers and many of the same faces. He knew what was going on.

It’s why I am so proud he overcame his feelings and went into “camp” prepared for good days. Over the five weeks, there was only one negative situation. There was only one day when he did not attend. He was having a rough day and he refused to go into school. We got to the door and a meltdown occurred, but he was back on track the next day after lots of conversations and a warning or three.

It’s important to note there were other mornings when things were not copasetic as well. He didn’t want to leave the house at 7:45 every morning. On most mornings, I was able to turn him around with humor. Since laughing is the best medicine and one of my favorite things to do with him, I had to dig deep some mornings.

The problem for me is sometimes I wake up stressed because of the to-do list ahead of me, especially when it involves daily deadlines. Carson forces me to get out of my own head and get some perspective. It’s his gift to us. I can look at him and usually get a grip. He prevents me from being selfish, gets me out of my own space and reminds me to focus on him.

One morning this week I was failing miserably. While taking care of a few other things around the house, I reminded him repeatedly to have his breakfast, which was getting cold on the counter. The iPad was monopolizing his attention and he was blowing me off. I was frustrated, resulting in Pam coming downstairs giving me the look. I had temporarily lost my cool because I needed to get him to school on time before a meeting I had early. She stepped him and got him on track. I had been rushing him and he sensed my aggravation. He does not respond well to that. I know this, of course, but I was stressed and off my game.

A hilarious car ride to “camp” was healing for both of us. As I do each morning, I let him control the dial. He always goes to the rap channels first to see if he likes a song. If so, we drop deuces the whole way to school. If not, he turns on heavy metal and we head bang down Main Street. When we can’t find something that does the trick, we joke about how silly some of the band names are, like Lil Uzi Vert, DaBaby, Megadeth, Anthrax and his personal favorite, We Came As Romans. For some reason, the latter’s band name really tickles him.

Though there were far more good days, it’s these times of struggle when I beam with the most pride over our boy. It’s impossible for me not to marvel over how far he has come. There was a time when a bad start to the morning would ruin the entire day. He’s much more resilient and mature now. I am proud of us for being his dedicated, patient advocates every day. The team at his school deserves a tremendous of credit as well for the right blend of professionalism and sentimentality to bring out his best.

The most credit must go to the boy himself. Carson is going to do great things. I just know it in my heart. Our calling is to find what gives him his best life. I know it’s going to involve working hard because he has an incredible work ethic when doing something he loves like math, art, building things, swimming, gaming and yard work. In the meantime, we keep on keeping on.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.