This summer Jason has spent 3 weeks at YMCA day camp. One week there, the next off and so on. This is both to give him much needed structure and activity and to give me a break. We went in with very high hopes. We are pulling him early tomorrow.
Every week has been met with it's own set of difficulties. We made sure the staff at the camp (just 10 minutes from our house) knew of Jason's special needs and that they could handle then before he went. The staff has mostly been very patient and kind in dealing with him and us.
It's the kids that are the biggest problem.
You see, Jason is a sweet naive little guy. Actually he's not so little at 10 anymore, but in truth he exists much like a 6yo does. His understanding of the world around him is very much like that of a first grader. We still struggle with fantasy and reality and if you tell him something, he will believe you. He also misreads social cues pretty regulary. And he always takes jokes and such too far in his desire to fit it. But at the heart of it all, Jason is a good, sweet, gentle kid, who just wants to be liked and doesn't understand why kids don't like him.
This week a boy had Jason convinced that aliens are real, invisible and coming to get him. This is so scary for Jason as he truly believed it. He hasn't been sleeping and last night had a horrible nightmare. We think it started as a joke, but then the kids figured out that Jason really thought it was true and have been feeding it all week. Telling him that he needed special powers to ward off the aliens and then using Jason's fear of just disappearing to get things from him all week. Add to that boys with a far too advanced knowledge of life and my kiddo was so in over his head.
Only I didn't know any of this until today, when he threw a rock at that boy. Hard. And got himself sent to the office and a note sent home to me. The camp director politely told me we should consider sending Jason to another branch with smaller numbers because he was more than they could handle.
However, during our talks with Jason this evening we found out the rest. About the aliens, the teasing and the vulgar language.
Thankfully, Jason is taking it all in stride. He is happy to know aliens aren't real, he isn't going to disappear and that he won't have to go back. He loved the creeking and the swimming and all the othr activities, but I told him no amount of fun is worth all that. He went off to band rehearsal with Andy tonight, happy as a clam. I'm glad he can let things go so easily.
I'm torn between utter sadness and guilt that I put him in this situation and complete anger that the adults in charge didn't do something and allowed this all to happen. Tomorrow, Andy is going over at lunch to speak with the camp director about everything that had been going on. I would, but it probably wouldn't be a pretty sight.
I think next summer I'll stick to VBS, the pool and play dates.