Going to camp is such an awesome experience! You get to make friends, do a ton of fun things, and learn even more. I was going to camp with my parents as sponsors, from the time I was a little tyke, so when our finances finally allowed us to send our 8 and 10 year olds to camp this year, I was stoked, and so we’re they… mostly.
My 8-year-old, T, has a very anxious personality, and has since birth, along with ADHD, dyspraxia and being an HSP. He has overcome SO many fears over the years, and I almost can’t believe he’s the same kid as he was 3 years ago. However, after dropping him off at camp, yesterday evening, I really wasn’t at all surprised to get a call from him, this afternoon, in tears and wanting to come home. His reason? There were bees and wasps. Outside. Go figure. I spoke compassionately to him, reminded him how brave he’d become, and talked to him about the fun things that he’d done so far. He wasn’t convinced. However, it was time for swimming and snacks, so I told him to stick it out the rest of today, and he could call me again, tomorrow. He insisted that I pick him up, tomorrow, but I told him we’d talk and see from there. He seemed to have calmed down, and he let me talk to the camp administrator, to whom I gave a few tips on helping him cope with his anxiety.
IT WAS ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS I’VE EVER DONE!
The thing is, T has always been high needs. As a baby, he would scream bloody murder, if he wasn’t in my arms, and often even when I was doing everything I could think of to console him. As a toddler, his voice remained high-pitched and whiny-sounding, and he seemed afraid of EVERYTHING: noise, lights, animals, bugs, grass, you name it. I learned compassionate parenting early on, because how can you punish a tiny person for being downright terrified? However, I also quickly learned that not everyone agreed with my methodology, and many thought he was just “throwing tantrums” or “being naughty”. No. I knew my baby, and he was simply scared…of the world.
So, we’ve worked through a LOT, together, and now he’s having to learn how to work through his fears, without me. It’s hard…for both of us. I have to hope that the adults and kids at camp will treat him with compassion and respect, knowing that there will probably be some who won’t. I have to be okay with letting him experience not only his fear, but likely shame, as well. This hurts my heart, because it’s not his fault, and he actually has one of the most compassionate hearts, and a strong desire to do the right thing.
As hard as it was/is to make him stay there, I truly believe it is going to be a good thing for him, no matter how much I want to run to his “rescue”. I know he is safe and in experienced hands, or else I wouldn’t have left him there in the first place. It’s not the first time that I’ve had to let my kids experience difficult things, to allow them to grow, but this is definitely the hardest one for me, knowing that I can’t be there to help him work through it at the end of the day.
What is something that you or your children experienced as a child that helped you grow, while being uncomfortable at the time?