This summer we decided against putting the kids in any camps. Drew was going to be extremely busy with summer baseball and being a bat boy for the Newark Bears. With me working part time and Dave back to work….learning on the job, we needed DJ around to help to take care of Drew. We are jokingly calling it, “Camp DJ.” I usually leave them a note in the morning, (since they are both still asleep when we head out to work), giving them a schedule of things they can do. Fortunately most things are within walking distance so DJ takes Drew to the movies once a week and to the library. Tomorrow they will walk to the train station, catch a train to Newark and while Drew gets to work as bat boy for an afternoon game, DJ can sit in the stands and watch.
At first I felt badly not giving them more to do, but I have found that the two of them are really enjoying their time together. Despite their nearly five year age difference they really get along quite well. Of course they still fight, argue and bicker often, but I have found that they are also forming a really nice bond this summer by spending so much time with each other.
I have also noticed that Drew seems to be growing up a lot this summer. I don’t know if it is the commitment to baseball, or the independence that we have given him, but he is beginning to show a lot more responsibility. He had really begun to fall apart last year. His second concussion was really hard on him and our family. We were at our wits end with how to deal with him and the mood swings. He was very withdrawn and would not talk to any of us. I really think that the time we spend in the car driving to and from baseball games, are opportunities where we are “forced” to spend time together, so it has given us the chance to reconnect. He talks about things with us now. He laughs more, he is getting back to the old Drew, but with a more mature perspective.
I have even noticed this at home. Drew was always my, “snuggly” kid. The one who would curl up on the couch or in bed just to watch television or read a book with me. He doesn’t need the tucking in or as many snuggles anymore, but he is back to letting me sit down next to him knowing that I am interested in him and what he has to say. I am enjoying this reconnecting time he is giving me. I try not to pry and ask too many questions of him because that seems to be when he shuts down. I think he is enjoying figuring out things for himself. I let him talk about what he wants to talk about. I let him take the lead, knowing that by doing so, he is becoming an independent person – he is shaping his own pre-teen identity. I will often get the one word answers when I question him about his day, “good,” fine,” “okay,” but by giving him the opportunity to talk about what is most important to him, it has opened up a lot more conversations between us.
He is passionate about so many things. He talks about baseball and is very interested in what is going on in our world. He wants to write a letter to the head of the recreation departments telling them about the importance of all kids getting a base-line concussion test BEFORE they start any sports. This has been a challenge for him but I am encouraging him to do it and I have told him that when he does, I will help him to spread the word on how important it is.
One thing that I am learning through our talks is how empathetic he is about equality. We live in a town that is so diverse, Drew knows of nothing else, so there is nothing “abnormal” about it. He goes to school with children of all races and family makeups. He doesn’t understand why people make such a big deal about it because it his “normal”. He talks about it with me often, questioning when he hears people speak negatively about it in anyway. I like the fact the he is “color-blind” and just considers everyone the same.
By having these deep conversations with Drew, it seems that we are developing communication skills that I hope he will continue to use when he hits the teenage years. By letting him initiate conversation and listen to our perspective as we give him the chance to share his, it is my hope that he will begin to see us in a different light as well. Maybe this is a step in the right direction with him. I know the teen years won’t be easy with Drew. DJ has always been our “easy kid” so although he gets moody at times, we have not had to face too many big issues…yet. Maybe this quality time they are spending with each other, and with us will be the stepping stones to a painless teenage experience….I guess I can always hope!!!!