February is almost over and the pressure is on.
What are we going to do with Ally this summer—the void of endless time and childcare needs?
The part of parenting I never expected to hate the most is summer. I always imagined we would plan trips, go on adventures, and spend a few weeks together each year making memories, the way families should.
But for our family, there are no vacations and trips as we juggle to pay full-time babysitters and take separate weeks off from work just to get by.
This was supposed to get easier but the permanency of our circumstance stings more as we reach these milestones of darkness.
There was one month that I will never forget—September 2019, Kindergarten, when I paid nearly nothing for an after school program she didn’t succeed in. That was my only financial break in six years. That was the light at the end of the tunnel I had been driving towards and it caused us nothing but stress before it burned out.
Here I am with my crystal ball trying to predict our needs for Summer before Spring even starts.
How much vacation time do I have left to use?
Will the last day of school change after I make all of these plans?
What am I going to do in August, the longest month ever?
Should my child be stuck home on beautiful days with a babysitter, again?
Is the lapse in structure and routines going to break her?
Typical kids get to go to summer camp to swim and play outside, things my daughter desperately wants, but she has nowhere to go.
Should I try to send her to a camp for a few weeks? That could be nice. Maybe she will enjoy the outdoors, socialize, and maybe even make a friend. Would the other kids notice an adult attending with her?
Will another camp throw her out? The thought of that is more damaging.
Is it wrong that she has been thrown out of everywhere by three and can never go back?
Then her care team suggests looking at “special needs” camps. That is hard because she does not fit into their box. And I wonder why she has to go to a separate camp.
Is it fair that she is gifted and excluded?
That her playmates are mostly paid, adults.
I breakdown as I imagine her alone desperately waiting for me to take her to the park to find kids to play with. Kids who aren’t her friends, just kids. Kids I hope each time are nice and tolerate her.
Ally isn’t the nicest kid either. She is imaginative, bossy, and literal. She is often a victim of herself and autism.
I’m tired of the fight.
Tired of the segregation.
And tired of people thinking that this is okay.
That nothing is good enough for my child.