So Em came home from camp today. I was never more thrilled to see her. There she was standing outside the school in her peachy sweatshirt (despite it being too warm for it) holding her rucksack. She looked lost and confused. She was looking for me. And then, she saw me. That look of relief on her face was like me letting out a breath I’d been holding for 3 days.
I walked over to her and grabbed the rucksack. I told her to take off her sweatshirt as it was too warm and she just shook her head at me, grinned, and took it off. She half hugged me as we walked across the parking lot to the van. She then started to talk. And that’s what she did. Talk talk talk and more talk.
The first thing she said to me was, “Mom, I had so much fun, but I’m glad to be home!” I had talked with Christian the night before so I was already aware of some struggles. I told her that I had heard she struggled. So then she started to tell me the things she disliked, the things she loved, the things that were a struggle, and areas she failed.
She loved being out in the woods. She loved the night sky. She told me that she was enjoying looking at the stars out there. She knows she can see the stars well from our back porch, she just thought the context in which she was seeing them out there was “just beautiful” “amazing” and “gorgeous”.
The teacher though, took the kids on a night hike. The counselors were told to jump out at the kids. Yup, I groaned too and was totally ticked off when I heard this. Em is somewhat afraid of the dark. She is also prone to swat, slap, or hit when she is spooked. Add to the fact she is a runner and this camp is near a lake, I freaked out a little bit. She did freak when they jumped out at her. She screamed for them to stop. She hugged her little friend to pieces. Eventually, she found strength and comfort from one of firefighters (who was chaperoning) and he sheltered her from it as much as he could.
She was constantly surrounded by people from the time the left school Wednesday until shortly after we got home and she claimed her cat and her room. She was so tired of holding herself together that she did fall asleep yesterday during down time. She hit someone (for him having bad sportsmanship) and she almost hit another one.
She loved kayaking and canoeing. She found nature to be calming in its own right, giving her a new coping outlet. She found a deeper understanding for herself. And while she wanted to come home, and begged her brother to bring her home on the bus last night, she pushed herself through it. Took his sweatshirt and snuggled it to sleep last night.
She had a great counselor who helped her and understood her. She realized when Em needed her and was there for her. Em even ate non preferred foods and tried to do new things. She grew up a bit over these last three days and while I’m concerned about some of the shenanigans, I see she has come so very far. Even with regression hitting her in a moment’s notice, she pushed her through.
So there was good. There was bad. There was ugly. But it all had a beautiful out come in the end, Em pushed through and succeeded in managing stress and finding new ways to cope when she is limited in her options. There is joy in that growth. Happiness, tears and joy.