Butterfly grew up with food intolerances and was diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger's
Syndrome, and learning difficulties. Now she struggles with OCDs.
This is the story of how we have faced these challenges.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Market, A Birthday Celebration, and A Journey

After the last experience, I certainly wasn't going to take another job anytime soon. But there was a community market in town early Saturday mornings during the summer that I thought might be fun and educational for both Butterfly and me, even if we didn't make much. It's a good thing we went into it with that attitude, because it wasn't exactly lucrative. But it was good experience for Butterfly to help me sell my homemade jams, jellies and baking, so I approached it as sort of a homeschooling summer co-op. When I decided to do this, I hadn't realized that this market was slowly dying. That first year we went, there were only four other shelters besides ours in the mall parking lot. Sort of a sad little market. We stuck it out anyway. What little we did make went toward visits to the local historical and nature sites and other outings that summer.

I have a difficult time explaining "value added" sometimes, but to me, the value in the experience of doing the market wasn't about money. It had a lot more to do with Butterfly learning to tough it out when she had to get up early Saturday mornings, even if she hadn't slept well. There was value in her participating in getting organized and packing for market. Our attractive display contributed to getting people over to our little set-up to see what was up. A combination of the meat and bread guy's sausages hanging up over his table and our rustic boxes with their neat display of preserves aroused curiousity. Butterfly loved to help create that display, and she learned that talking to people isn't so tough if you have something to talk about. When she stuck to telling people about the preserves and baked goods, she could be quite personable. That too was valuable experience.

That summer we also organized an 85th birthday celebration for my mom. I had been toying with the idea of giving her gathering for a few years, and it seemed like time. We re-mortgaged the house a bit early to get the funds necessary to put on a party for her, and I invited all kinds of people, including some relatives she hadn't seen in a long time. Despite some interfering elements and rather poor weather, it went off very well. Mom felt very much loved and appreciated, which was the idea. And Butterfly? Well, she and a couple of cousins helped out by keeping the parking traffic organized. I even bought them bright, lime green t-shirts and ironed on transfers that said, "parking staff." It was a blast.

Butterfly and her Nanna at that 85th birthday party.

The second summer we did the market, the meat guy quit, so it was an even sorrier few shelters in that parking lot calling ourselves a market. Clearly the market was on its last legs, but we showed up most Saturdays anyway, figuring it was the last summer we'd be doing this. The big thing that year though, was a wilderness adventure for Butterfly. We had applied to an organization called *Outward Bound, for Butterfly to go on their wilderness trek for 14 year old girls. We couldn't afford to send her, but there were bursaries available, and she qualified. So we spent a lot of time getting her ready for this. There was a list of supplies that she had to take, including a certain kind of pants, shoes, shirts, socks, and even long johns, and we had to find the best buys we could while still getting the type of clothing required. Tents and sleeping bags were supplied, which was a help. I emailed back and forth with the counselors there about Bud's dietary restrictions and they assured us they could handle it. Butterfly would be journeying with a gaggle of other 14 year old girls in the northern wilderness. It was kind of exciting for all of us.

We drove her up to the base camp to drop her off. Just Hubby and I made that trip with her, stopping in the little dry goods store in the nearby village to get her the nose plugs she forgot. We took Mom along to pick Bud up 17 days later. It became clear there wouldn't be any more trips with Mom. She had a heart condition and the drive seemed a little bit much for her. There was a feast at the end of Bud's "course" that we all attended, giving Mom a chance to rest up for the drive home. And Butterfly? The experience had been quite a change for her. Swimming, canoeing, portaging, making camp along the way, and even camping over one night alone, she came away from the whole experience more confident, as well as pleased with her accomplishments. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this for other kids like Bud, but I would caution that it wasn't a course for kids with special needs, and not all of the girls were there willingly. Some of the girls from the city were there because their parents made them go, to build character I guess. Perhaps it worked, I don't know. I do know that it gave Butterfly the opportunity to experience people her own age who were very different from her. Even though it made her feel more isolated in some ways, I think it also helped her focus better on what kind of person she wanted to be.

There were reactions and blow-ups during these times, of course. But Butterfly was learning to cope with these a little better. She learned not to react so quickly and angrily to teasing, or when things didn't go as she had planned. Oh, she still had her moments, but there was notable progress. Really, I think just as challenging for her at this time, was puberty. That's not a bag of laughs for any teen, but for an Aspie, it's a particularly confusing time. Butterfly's learning took place during the summer that year. I didn't give her any new school work during the winter, focussing instead on life skills. We spent that winter cooking, reading, watching videos (some biographies in there) and talking about life. In hindsight, I'm so glad I did this, because the events of life were about to get even more challenging for us all.


*Info on Outward Bound is on Resource page.

4 comments:

  1. Another cliffhanger! Isn't that the way real life works, though? :)

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  2. Hehe.. it really is. And I think I'm going to interrupt the flow of the timeline with an aside too. Oh no! ;o)

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  3. Hehe... on with the story tomorrow. :)

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