shooting stars


Today is Color Day at Brooke’s camp.

There will be games and contests. Competition. Camaraderie. Team spirit.

She will not be there.

Green – she was going to be on the green team.

She won’t be.

She will, as per her ardent request (more of a desperate plea, really) have color day at home.

I’m told there will be a tug of war. There will be hands-in for team cheers. Luau has suggested a sponge race.

I’m guessing that her dolls will participate. There will be no people here other than Brooke, Katie and Daddy.


I knew it was where we were headed at bedtime on Wednesday night when she first brought it up. And then couldn’t let it go. Even as I told her that we’d talk to Miss C about it the next day, I already knew.

I tried everything.

I told her she could take breaks. It didn’t matter. I told her that she didn’t need to participate in any events that were overwhelming. No, not in those words. It didn’t matter. I told her lots of things. Had lots of creative ideas about how to make it work. They didn’t matter.

She wanted out. I could see it on her face. The Fear. The Pain. The Too God Damned Much.

She asked me again as I kissed her goodnight, “You will call Ms C to tell her that I will be color daying at home on Friday?”

It was the tears that did me in. When she  came into my room an hour after bedtime, tears streaming down her face, I knew I’d be making that call.

If it were the school year, it would be different. If it were a different kind of event, it would be different. It’s color day. At camp. There’s not nearly enough to be gained. It just doesn’t matter.

Does it?

There are so few absolutes on this parenting journey, and even fewer on the autism path. Unquestionably right answers are as few and far between as shooting stars.

I want to respect my kid. I want to push my kid. I want to teach her that she can handle more than she thinks she can.

I want her to feel safe.

I want to teach her to try. I don’t want her to become isolated. I want her to see what’s possible. I want to teach her to communicate what she’s feeling.

And when she does, I want her to know we’re listening. 


Yesterday, with Ms C’s help, she wrote her note ‘home’ to a dear friend of the family with whom we’ve struck up a correspondence via e-mail. This was what she wrote:

Dear Roxy,

Big Joe is the guy that came to mi fiesta. In camp today I had a bouncy casa. Do you know Spanish? What was your favorite part of camp? Do you like grunting? I felt happy when my mama told Miss C that I won’t be at camp for color day. For pretend at my house on color day vacation my friends and I are gonna go away to Disney world in a plane. Pooh will call Eeyore Yogurtyore.



There are so few absolutes on this parenting journey, but sometimes, the gut call is clear.


Today is Color Day at Brooke’s camp.

She will not be there.

29 thoughts on “shooting stars

  1. ‘Yogurtyore’, that is gold. It is impossible to know sometimes,do we push? Do we let it go? And sometimes you go with your gut and the decision is clear. We have been breaking new ground here recently and it never ceases to amaze me what my son can do when given the opportunity ,but sometimes it is simply too much.

  2. I’m so sorry, Jess! On one hand I know the disappoint you’re feeling. It’s palpable. On the other hand, Brooke has been totally able to communicate her feelings and that’s incredible! Let’s count that as “leaps and bounds”!

    Love you,

  3. Today is 80’s day at camp. This will be the first day that my little lady will participate in the theme this week. Why? Because Goonies was made in the 80’s. We will be doing the Truffle Shuffle, setting “Booby Traps”, playing pianos made from bones, sliding through tunnels and finding treasure. Oh, did I mention that Mikey Walsh now lives with us? Yeah. He’s been here all summer. #ThankGodForCamp

  4. “There’s not nearly enough to be gained.” That’s the thing. Everything we do should have a kind of gain in mind. Sometimes it means pushing a bit for the gain, but there really are times when it’s not worth it. I remember when my son was younger they had “Wacky Hair Day”. It was always a difficult day for him. Days like that – those “different” days – bring out a Where the Wild Things Are kind of feeling for all the students. (past teacher).

  5. Yes. What is the benefit? Is there a benefit? We go through this every time. In summer there are so many more of these situations too, and Summer is fraught with landmines enough as it is. Our guy is going through the same anxiety over the planned field trips for ESY, and I’m about to make a similar decision about the one coming up next week.
    There will be so many more opportunities to push and stretch, color day certainly will not be the last.

  6. Wow!! Are you in my house?!? It was “olympics” at my sons camp and well, i kept him home. He was too overwhelmed on day 1 that it just wasn’t worth Love been reading your blog for a few months now and well, I Love them….you say what we are all feeling…..Thank you!

  7. Personally, I never ever push. Our son is 14 and he gets incredibly anxious at times. He misses a fair few days of school, but I don’t care. Him feeling safe is more important to me – knowing that he won’t have to worry if it all gets too much. He goes to school probably around 90% of the time. That is good enough for me. You definitely made the right call. Much love xx

  8. One of the more frequent conversations I have with the families with whom I work is how to strike that balance. I apparently have the reputation of being a pretty tough teacher (though I am also very proud of the feedback I have received regarding my ability to connect with my students and how apparent my love for them is). I push these kids because I believe in their potential. Children do better when there is consistency; when the whole team is on-board and pushing them. That being said, first of all they are children, and everyone has their limits. Second of all, as their parents, of course you have a responsibility to push them and respect their potential, but you also need to listen to what they are telling you. I always say that despite my credentials training and experience, there is NO WAY that I am the expert. Parents are the experts on their children and you have to trust your gut. Brooke knows that she can trust you and Luau to truly listen to her and weigh the pros and cons, the benefits and the costs of each decision. I hope Katie, Luau and Brooke enjoy “color-daying” at home today!

  9. I agree, good call. Why put her through it? And it’s HUGE that she told you. You listened. Yes, we have to push, but we also know what’s too much. Brooke will not loose anything by missing color day, but she continues to gain the knowledge that her words hold relevance, as do her feelings. That you’re listening. That you understand. 🙂
    On a side note, I went to the Autism Speaks Walk kick off dinner last night. I made some new friends (one who I just met through a group on here, and she lives in my town. Her daughter was just diagnosed).
    I told them about your blog. I told them to read it. I posted a link to D Day and Welcome to the club. 🙂

  10. Do what you need to do to make her feel safe. She’s still doing color day, just slightly modified so that she can actually enjoy it–and that’s huge. You made the right call. Hope she enjoys her trip to Disney with her pals. 🙂

  11. Shoot, I was an NT kid, and “color day” was always miserable for me. I hated every minute of the overwhelming, competitive, rules-to-be-understood-I-might-disappoint-my-team day. I wish my mom had let me have color day at home. 🙂 You’re fantastic.

  12. What everybody else said.
    You listened, you reflected, and your mama and papa intuition is spot on.
    Yogurtyore. Wonder if I can use that in a sermon?
    Much love to you all, and enjoy color daying at home.

  13. The call was good and the communication from your baby was even better. It’s because you listen that she can “express” her feelings and that is far more important than the day……
    It’s never easy, never…

  14. I think color day at home sounds cool. Good for you for listening to her. The fact that she can communicate her needs to you is AWESOME! Today my girl has “beach day” …so I send her in an outfit that all I can think about is that she will be freezing (they keep the bldg so cold). I just called to tell them to please put a sweatshirt on her. The hell with Beach day. So far my girl doesn’t seem overwhelmed by all the themes but I am also pretty sure her awarness of all of it is much less than Brooke’s. I wish she could tell me if any of it is too much. She is a bit more agitated everyday (or “whiny” as her teacher told me) but I’m not sure from what. 😦 Hope Brooke has fun in Disney with her friends!

  15. Good call. I thought that you were going to say that she did not want to be on the green team because it was a Friday. I remember one of earlier posts when Brooke would only want to wear only red on Friday. Am I remembering correctly? My daughter E when through a similar color/day routine and I just realized it’s another one of the things that has fallen away.

    Also – for more comedy gold – Brooke might want to check out the Talking Santa app on the ipad. Similar to Talking Tom the repeating cat but in this one you can write a messsage on Santa’s behind.

  16. Thank you for reminding me that we all have the constant running debate in our heads…how much do we push, how much do we let him/her do what they need to do right now (while others may call it “giving in”). Cost vs Gain is a great way to approach whatever the issue of the day may be. Always learning.

  17. MacKenzie stayed home on track and field day this year. It is too much and there is really no reason to make her participate. So I say “Good call Mama!”. We push them daily and sometimes if it’s not something that is really necessary, why push the issue? We know our kids the best.

  18. This is exactly my world. I don’t know. Does Ben need a break, does he need to be pushed. Is Ben used to getting his own way because he’s spoiled, or is he incapable of being flexible because he’s autistic.
    Do I make home an extension of school and teach, or do Iet him find home to be a safe and happy place where he can relax and be enjoyed.
    It’s so hard. And there are no absolute answers.

  19. I know it’s not the same, but there is a thread of connection there so.. My son turned 18 this year. His dad and are divorced and dad has decided it’s time to let go and will only be seeing his son one weekend a month. Other people in our circle say that I need to do the same, look into group homes, get him out of the house.. live my own life. Sooo very torn. I feel I have more to teach him, I’m not ready (but will I ever be). I feel like he should be home until he is out of school at 22. And then there’s the bigger question.. being his mom is all I know, who will I be without him here? So much in my head.. and praying for a little clarity. Thanks for always offering insight!

  20. Another post I love and relate to but wish I didn’t, and wish you didn’t have to write. My guy missed the school play last year for the same sort of reasons. I know some thought I let him off too easy, but I know it was right for him. It’s such a delicate balance we have to walk on this crazy, beautiful journey. I hope home color day rocks!

  21. Sounds like you made a good call. Being a parent is knowing that when are gut tells us we are making the right decision we almost always are! Great job mom! I hope home color day rocks!!!


  22. I totally get it…totally and painfully. Last year, my youngest asked to join the Daisy Girl Scouts…because her only friend was a Daisy…but just as we joined, the other child quit. Sigh. The other family had their reasons, and despite my disappointment, I understood. My daugher desperately needed to widen her circle of safe friends, but she has such a hard time in group situations. Her social skills are so limited, and her sensory-defensiveness causes issues in groups. And our traditional meetings are sometimes hard for her. There is never time for relaxed socializing. Usually the troop takes the summer off, but, I offered to plan and to host the meetings at our home to complete a summer Journey. Because we were in our own home, my child could come and go from activities as her moods fluxed. She had a couple of meltdowns…and sometimes refused to be a part of things on any level. But I allowed her to make her own choices regarding participation. It was a SUPER lesson for the other girls…tolerance, understanding, patience, compassion. They were really great. And, she had some beautiful moments…usually near the end of the morning, as most of the girls had left. The house would settle and become quiet, but there would still be a couple of girls around. My daugher would suddenly blossom into life. She would engage fully…enthusiastically. And, last night, for the first time in her life, she had a sleep-over. She asked for it, and she participated fully, every second the other two girls were here. Although she did not participate in many of the Girl Scout activities, she managed to make new friends. And, Mama did, too. I had the chance to truly get to know the other moms…and feel encouraged by the widening of my own circle. It was tough at times, and it hurt to see all of these other little girls totally engaged having a blast, while my own child sometimes had to leave the room, but, in the end, it was a gift. It was worth the risk involved. We took a chance…and it was worth it.

  23. She’s way ahead of the game, so many people don’t know how to say no, they do things they have no business doing because they don’t know how to do a self-check and say, “Nope. Not going to work for me.”

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