Next Tuesday, my Peabo starts his Extended School Year program. For most kids, this would be summer school, and it would be full of extra math and reading and other academic gobbledygook. For Peabo and the kids who go to school with him, though, Extended School Year means summer camp. It's outdoors. There's swimming and canoing and trips to the bowling alley. It's fun, loads of fun, because it's all about the social skills.
And that's exactly what these kids need.
For those who don't know, Peabo attends a terrific school that is just right for him because it focuses on kids with Asperger's. It gives them the social, language and fine motor skills they need, along with constant behavioral feedback, and even homework assignments meant to help them fit in - like "wear deodorant" or "shower every day" (when you realize that most of these kids are middle school-aged boys, that assignment makes total sense). And they are working slowly toward mainstreaming, because this private school is set smack dab in the middle of a public school, so the kids attend at least a handful of classes each day with their neurotypical peers.
I love this school.
I love it for many reasons, but the biggest is that now, Peabo has friends. Real ones. Friends he can call and chat with. Friends he can play video games with and have inside jokes with and even small tiffs with.
Last week, Peabo came up with the great idea of getting the gang together before they meet up again at camp. He wanted to have a party at my house, which I am not up for at this point, as I'm still recovering from my 56-day odyssey. So I said, hey, why not get everyone together at the movies?
Which he did. He arranged the whole thing. He called his friends and agreed on a movie and a day. He talked to parents, and handed them off to me when he needed to. He arranged a ride for one friend, set up a meeting place for the others, and made sure his siblings and the one more who joined us were occupied with each other so he and his friends could hang.
All that left me, my increasingly awesome new au pair (seriously - she rocks), and one other mom shepherding 8 kids - 6 of them on the spectrum - through the mall.
It was chaos. As we wandered through the Food Court, and the book store, and then up to the theater, you could see me and Mom 2 doing constant head counts and then calling, "wait, wait, we've lost one" (usually it was my redhead, who has of late decided that listening and staying in sight are overrated skills that he needn't be bothered with). It was friends talking over one another, laughing too loud, talking Manga and music and battling each other on their DSi's. And battling in real life, too: We went to see Kung Fu Panda 2, and if you're a tweenager who's just seen a kung fu movie, you're going to come out of it believing in your soul that you're the Dragon Warrior and your companions are the Furious Five.
It was awesome.
I spent years fighting to get this for my kid. This exact thing. An afternoon at the mall with his friends, getting goofy and eating too much popcorn.
Today, I watched my diva and my redhead, so accustomed to their brother's kind of normal, accept and enjoy his fabulously quirky friends as just that and nothing more - his friends. And I spent time with other parents who just get it, innately, because they live this life, too.
The movie is all about Inner Peace and how you achieve it (and then kick the ass of the mortal enemy you did not even know you had).
This is my inner peace. This day, and the days like this to come.
And yeah, I liked the movie, too.