I went with my two oldest on a fall youth retreat with our church this past weekend. Upon returning, everyone kept asking me, “Did you have fun?”. I went as a chaperone on a weekend designed for kids. Was I supposed to have fun? I’m glad I went and I enjoyed getting to know a few women better, but I don’t think I’d say that it was ‘fun’.
My reason for going was to be available for DD2 who has the sensory issues. The sensory issues play into picky eating and I took simple foods to dash into the kitchen to prepare if DD2 didn’t want what was served. Yes, I know this sounds as if I treat her like a princess and why don’t I just tell her to eat it or not? The reason I don’t is that she doesn’t eat a lot to start with, and she doesn’t mind skipping a meal or two. The problem is that when she doesn’t eat, her body gets out of whack and her sensory issues spiral out of control. Sooo…while many parents are saying “That’s what there is to eat”, for now we need to focus on gaining control of the sensory reactions, and later we can deal with food issues.
I also knew that my daughter would not sleep much this weekend, and that this too could throw her out of whack. The main leaders could all have handled DD’s issues, but I didn’t want to put that on them as they also have heavy demands on their time already.
It was good that I went. Two of the meals would have left her with an empty stomach, and the lights didn’t go out until 12:30 either night. The second night she wanted to sleep with me (we shared a bunk bed), and I had to firmly send her up to her bunk. I’m not heartless, though. I let her cuddle with me for a few minutes first. Why didn’t she want to sleep alone? She heard that ghost stories had been told earlier in the day. She didn’t even hear them. That’s what lack of sleep and routine can do to this child. That’s why I brought food.
Over all, she did quite well considering all of the factors messing with her system. There were three quiz sessions, and she only sat out the first due to anxiety. They’ve been learning Bible trivia for several months, and the girls always want her on their team because she knows most of it, but anxiety can still freeze her. I was glad she joined in later. She even ‘quizzed out’ – when one child answered a certain number of questions correctly, they were pulled out and another child took their place. I liked that system. It kept the game from being dominated by one or two sharp kids, and let some of the more shy speak up.
So, will I let the girls go again next fall? I don’t know. I’m still exhausted, my legs are sore (lots of stairs), I didn’t enjoy making the special meals, and the girls got to snarling at each other shortly after we got home. I knew it wouldn’t end well when I saw them on the same couch. Also, I came home to a smelly house (DH and DS didn’t bother to open the curtains all weekend), dishes were piled high on the counter although I had emptied the dishwasher before leaving, and things were in general disarray. I have a year to forget about all of this, so I might be stupid and do it again next fall.