I just got back from almost a month in Europe. My husband and I took our second oldest son and a friend of his on a tour of Europe by train. It was a bit crazy and I can’t even recount all of the countries we went through without help (there were 10, I think)–because parts of it seem like a blur! But, it was an adventure and it was fun. Meanwhile on the home front the two youngest were left behind in the care of their grandmother with help from a few other friends.
I’m going to tell you something and I hope you don’t start thinking less of me, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I only talked to my children one time during the entire time I was away. And that was on my birthday. I sent them messages through facebook and posted pictures of where we were everytime I had internet access. I set up a free texting account so that my daughter who isn’t on facebook could send me messages. But other than that, I didn’t communicate with them for 24 days!
My son who will be in the tenth grade and has AS struggles with anxiety about school starting every year—this has gone on since fifth grade. School this year would be starting less than a week after I got home from my trip. While I was gone Stephen had to be responsible for reading two books for English and two books for his first AP (college credit) class. He also had to find newspaper articles and write a paragraph about each of them. Then, there was a packet of homework for German. The bottom line was I was afraid to talk to my own children because I didn’t want to have to deal with his anxiety.
When I asked him how it was going in a facebook message he told me he was behind on his schedule. Later he sent me a message that he was having trouble sleeping (which is NOT unusual at this time of year). If I was home I would know how to manage the situation, but I wasn’t and I had to make a decision to not let what I could not do long-distance ruin the rest of my trip. So, I sent this message:
I don’t know when we can skype again-we are moving around a lot and don’t usually know ahead of time when we’ll have internet.
How much do you lack in finishing that book? If it isn’t too much work hard to finish it & don’t worry about it being a few days late back to the library.I love you, Stephen. You can handle this. Do the best you can. Think of it step by step & don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture.If you need help getting organized we can get someone there to help you, but I can’t do it from here & it is just going to cause me stress the rest of the trip if you expect me to get you through this. I don’t want to sound mean, but I can’t help you from here.I love you!!!
He replied with a message saying he wasn’t that far behind. Then, four days later I got this message:
Mom I am so happy and excited! In my summer reading not only am I caught up I am ahead 5 DAYS!!! I love y’all and miss you so much! Message you later!
Ahhhh. Big sigh of relief. He finished his reading. I didn’t have to hold his hand through it. And maybe, just maybe we both grew a little bit through the process. The next time he leans on me a little too much I’ll remember the summer of 2012 when Stephen stepped up and got himself ready for school. And I let him.