Friday, March 21, 2014


Oscar left on a 5-day field trip to Yosemite on Monday.  (He’s a 7th grader now at a small school for kids with learning disabilities about 20 miles from home.)  Way back in October when the teachers asked me whether he’d be going I felt like the question was theirs to answer.  Did they feel like they could support him there?  The food part is easy – three meals a day and a strict  “no extra food allowed” policy.  No gum, no candy, no granola bars in the backpacks.  Two teachers who accompanied Oscar's class last year are going again, and they are comfortable (and trained) at dishing up Oscar’s food. But Oscar is slow. Slow to get his clothes on, slow to walk up a hill, slow to get his words out.  His stamina is reduced, he sleeps a lot, and, of course, there are the behavioral challenges that are exacerbated by changes in routine and interrupted sleep.  Were they up for all this?  Oscar’s 7th grade teacher was surprised that my hesitation was about burdening him.  “I think it’ll be great!” he replied. “I have no concerns,” he added, smiling.

But last week Oscar realized that Paul or I wouldn’t be going along.  He melted down at school, and then again when he got home.  “But Mom, what if I get homesick?”  he managed to ask between sobs.   

Oscar will get homesick - he got homesick the last time he went to camp and he ended up coming home early.  This time I had to figure out how to get him through it.  So I did what I always do in these sticky situations. I created a story that Oscar could buy into.  “You probably will get homesick Oscar,” I started.  “But part of the reason the school does these field trips is so kids can get used to being away from home. That way, when it’s time to go off to college, or move out, you’re ready.”  Sometimes it doesn’t take much to flip the switch in Oscar’s brain, and this was one of those times.   “Really!?” he replied, excited that this trip would help him achieve his bigger goals.  “Yep, and that’s what your (beloved) 5th grade teacher always said too. It’s good practice.” 

Oscar didn’t mention his anxiety about heading off to Yosemite without us after that.  He helped me gather together the clothes he would need for day-long hikes.  Rain pants, waterproof boots, wool socks, two fleeces, mittens. He chose down-time activities – Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, his dot-to-dot book, his Oakland A’s magazines. He even helped me show his teacher how to inject his growth hormone.  By the time he left he was super excited.  "I can't wait, Mom! I can't WAIT!"  Fingers crossed that he’s exuding the same enthusiasm when I pick him up tomorrow!