The Amazing Craig has taken H and City Mouse to create their own summer camp, which has been dubbed “Camp Snarfly.” (This name was inspired by Laura Nagle’s word snarfly – which is the autistic specific emotion of the joy of feeling comfortable.)
We planned this opportunity for the boys as their experience at summer camp the previous year had been unfortunately difficult, and neither the boys, nor us, were comfortable with them returning.
I heard H on the phone excitedly talking to City Mouse:
“There will be fishing, swimming, and Nerf guns… No crafts and no bullies!”
This was hilarious – but poignant too. The experience we had envisioned for the two best friends – had fallen far, far short of our expectations the previous year. The plan then – for this year – was for the boys to hang out together with Craig as their CIT (please pardon the Meatballs reference) and experience camp perfectly designed for them!
When we dropped them off at the campsite, which Craig had organized and set up the night before, it was obvious they couldn’t wait to see us go. They were happy with no moms and made this abundantly clear.
As we were leaving City Mouse’s Mom again joked, “No crafts and no bullies!!”
To which City Mouse added, “And NO moms!!” and then, “Oh… sorry Mom!”
Perhaps we felt a tinge of sadness at their adolescent reluctance to hug us goodbye. However we were soon happily enjoying a visit at Starbucks and the promise of a 2 day thrift-store-extravaganza, which upon further consideration may need to become an annual event.
Later we planned to light a candle and toast The Amazing Craig – but first we intended to enjoy our taste of freedom. This felt like stolen time – which made it all the sweeter. We have been giddy and foolish – like two high-school girls skipping out of class – or 12-year-olds giggling fiendishly after lights-out at a sleep-over.
We have wandered the thrift-store isles – sharing our sometimes bizarre, unusual, or hideously beautiful finds and laughing so much that I occasionally wondered if we might be expelled from certain establishments. Mostly though we were doing our thing and totally absorbed in the moment of being silly with each other. We didn’t care: we were in our own little world.
I convinced City Mouse’s Mom to buy a Holly Hobby cake pan (circa 1975) for her collectables business. It was a hard sell – and I might have been heard to utter something like: “Damn you Holly Hobby – You haunt my every waking thought.” After much pestering, she finally bought it – but I have agreed to buy it back from her if it hasn’t sold by April 15, 2013, for the original outlay of $4.99. (I hope Nika is OK with a Holly Hobby cake for her 20th birthday – which is early in May! But c’mon – who wouldn’t be!!)
City Mouse’s Mom and I appreciate being in each other’s lives. We have many interests in common and we share the experience of parenting exuberant, creative, funny, and diabolical, Lego-loving boys, who also happen to be autistic.
I am now cueing City Mouse’s Mom that this is her opportunity to share how wonderful and important I am to her – but she cannot stop laughing.
Finally… after a deep breath she begins:
“Our friendship started out as sort of a means to get our boys together and we didn’t really know each other at the beginning and I – it’s – I don’t know – it is just so nice to have someone who gets what it is like for me to raise my Lego-loving, diabolical boy – but who can also be a real friend. We have so much fun together. And even thought we have known each other for like – what is it – 7 or 8 years – we are still getting to know one another. And you make me laugh!!!”
And as for me… well, I agree with City Mouse’s Mom – but also, I must add that I so value that we can cut loose and connect in a way that brings joy for us as well. We are both such great supports for one another and we both share positive perspectives about this journey of raising our sons. And she laughs at my sometimes silly – frequently irreverent jokes! Now that’s a good friend!
City Mouse’s Mom adds:
“That is what we want for our kids – this same thing that you and I share – that’s what we want for our boys! And I am pretty sure that is what they have. I love the way H always says to City Mouse, “If I had a brother it would be you!” and my boy responds “Ya, Bro!”
Here they are posing in their luchadore masks that H bought for himself and his friend in Mexico.
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2012)