Tag Archive for: summer

Whoops! It’s summertime and I have summer brain which, for me, means a lot less writing and a lot more hanging out with Eve and Lola. I like to say that I work on writing about 2/3 time during the school year and 1/4 of the time in the summer. This summer in Seattle has been particularly lovely weather-wise, and the girls and I have had a ball taking advantage of the city’s attractive parks and water everywhere.

I realized, though, that my last post was fairly gloomy and I thought I’d better update my status lest you think I’m moping over here.  Au contraire – Eve went off to a week long sleepaway camp last weekend and Bubba left for a conference on the East Coast on Monday (yup, sucks to be him), so it’s just been Lola and me this week and it has rocked. Monday we decided to blow out of town, hopped a ferry with the dog and took off to wherever we wanted.  At one point, after the biggest damn ice cream I’d ever seen, we veered off the road and found a mostly deserted beach full of driftwood and a clean public restroom.  We walked the shoreline finding dead jellyfish that Lola picked up with sticks and flung back out into the sea, discovering enormous clam shells full of barnacles and throwing sticks for the dog to fetch in the surf. When we finally settled down on some driftwood and Lola started creating art out of sticks and stones and sand, she looked up,

“Mom? When do we have to leave the beach?”

“Whenever we want. We have no agenda, love. Eat when we’re hungry. Drive when we want to find a new place to hang out, sleep when we’re tired. That’s all. Just us and whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it.”

Oh, the look on her face.
Simply glorious.

We stayed for three hours, soaking up the sunshine, playing with the dog and only leaving when our stomachs started to rumble.  About ten miles down the road we found a hotel with a pool that accepted dogs, checked in and had a lovely dinner looking out at a marina full of great blue herons and beautiful sailboats.  Lola swam to her heart’s content at 9:30 that night and we woke up the next morning happy and rested.  We rented a kayak, paddled through glass-smooth waters with seals poking their heads up to greet us every few feet, spied bright orange and purple sea stars just beneath us and watched herons dive for their breakfast.  When we got hot and tired, we headed back to hang out with the dog some more.

I could bore you with the rest of the details, but let’s just say that even though we’re home now, we are still taking advantage of our ‘us’ time by doing whatever we want whenever we want to.

It rocks.

That is, Sensory Processing Disorder. (Don’t get me started on the name. That’s another rant/post.)

Suffice it to say that Lola deals with SPD – much of the time graciously and with a large measure of acceptance, other times not so much. And much of her life is structured so that she doesn’t have to head butt the enormous invisible beast that taunts her. She has teachers who “get it” and encourage her to work in the way that suits her best. She has pared her wardrobe down to several choice items that, while they don’t allow for much variety, enable her to move through the world without feeling constantly stimulated and irritated. She has plenty of opportunities for physical activity – playing sports and riding bikes and wrestling with Bubba. Her routine, during the school year, is predictable and, when it isn’t, we are sure to accommodate with extra down time and soothing routines.
And then summer hits. And the first few days are bliss. It’s like a long weekend and so long as I make sure she eats every couple of hours to keep her blood sugar up, she is enthusiastic and cheerful.
Go beyond a few days without structure, add in a week-long trip to the mountains, follow that up with a morning sports camp and a sister with an entirely different agenda than her and we’ve got a perfect storm of SPD triggers. She starts to assert that she ISN’T HUNGRY and asks to stay up late reading and slowly begins to disintegrate into someone who turns to mush for no reason at all. The last few days have brought more tears and hysterical outbursts and agitation than we’ve had in the last nine months put together.
And there is a twin crumbling going on inside my head. The small but hopeful, insulated, pretty-in-pink place where I had harbored a hope I was afraid to admit to myself. The hope that she had “outgrown” SPD or that we had been hasty in diagnosing it. The hope that she had come to manage it so well that she had folded those “quirks” inside of her personality the way a tree grows around a wire over time. That SPD had just become part of who she is and she could either wall it off as a separate but alien piece of herself or make friends with it and entirely disarm it.
Instead, summer is here, stripping away my denial. And so the next few days will require me to steel my resolve and re-engineer some boundaries that have fallen away with the end of the school year. Lola admitted to me last night that she is raw, over-reactive, edgy. She is apologetic and contrite in moments of calm, but utterly inconsolable and manic when agitated. I know that it is impossible for me to predict and systematically eradicate everything that could possibly set her off, and I’m not even sure it is wise to try. I do want to allow her to let her true personality shine through, though. This Lola, who is so funny and compassionate and possesses such wisdom about herself and others deserves to shine.