One likes to assume
that one knows her children. She knows what they like to eat, what they like to wear, whether they are morning kids or night owls. She knows when they are being honest and understands where they are coming from when they stretch the truth a tad. More importantly, she would like to think she knows her kids inside and out, so much so that she can predict the exact outcome of a distressing situation on her children.
You know, such as when one parent is deployed overseas for a year and the other is diagnosed with two types of what could be a nasty cancer. Even the best parent in the world (not making implications), might be so overwhelmed with decisions, options and stress that she somehow doesn't notice exactly how her child is affected.
It suddenly occurred to me today that perhaps I had done that. Perhaps I had made a huge mistake or at least been a tad negligent in areas regarding the mental/emotional effects of this whole scenario on the kids. They have not seen therapists, did not want to participate in support groups or related family potlucks and we had no desire to push them or go ourselves.
We haven't been ignoring the situation, but we have always been a bit more...laid-back with the kids. We chat openly about anything (yes, anything) when they need to, but we don't push topics that might make them uncomfortable. They know they can ask us about anything and while we do have talks, we don't go overboard. I was actually thrilled when Caitlin found out about my diagnosis by accident.
Not only didn't I have to sit her down (or worse, both of us), I think she took the news far more in stride than if we had a face-to-face. She digested everything in her own time and while she might have a been a tad bit perturbed, I think this was far easier on all of us.
We really didn't say much at all to Kelsey other than a basic explanation that I needed surgery. I wasn't "sick" sick, I was just not as healthy as I could be and hopefully the surgery would correct that. When I finally got around to saying something to Nick about needing to see the doctor, his response was, "Are you going to the hostibal? Are you going to have a surgery? I can fix you!" He then proceeded to find a toy saw and, well, let's just say he had an amazingly accurate idea of what was going to happen. He wasn't frightened or upset, just very matter-of-fact.
I realized today when I received an email from a friend that it had been ages since we discussed 'it'. Things have been so much more normal lately, that there really hasn't been much to say. In fact, the most discussion was probably a look I shot at Cait last week while driving when an ad related to my previous condition came on the radio. She looked at me, changed the channel at lightening speed and we went back to our prior topic of conversation.
The email was concerning a sleep away* camp. Though we are supposed to be planning Kelsey's birthday party (desperately need ideas for every aspect), I am also already looking forward to the summer. We are hoping for lots of sailing, swimming and just plain fun, but camps are also in the picture. Kelsey has requested both animal and nature camp, whereas Cait will be thrilled with one week of camp at the animal shelter in Alexandria. We hadn't really thought of much more, so I was quite interested to read about the camp in the note.
It is a camp for kids whose parents have dealt with my issue in any manner of speaking. Whether they have cancer, had it, are in remission...all are eligible. I originally thought it was just on the west coast, but turns out there are many locations throughout the country and they run through the end of the summer. It appears to be a great opportunity and I wondered if perhaps my kids needed this more than I thought? The deadline for registration was not far off and I quickly shot off a note to Pete and to someone else who might be considered a confidant for Cait, if no one else.
After a bit of discussion, we decided in all likelihood we would not go for the camp. If nothing else, considering that I have not been through as much as I could have been (no chemo/no radiation**/good diagnosis), it seemed like perhaps it was best to save those spots for other kids who have really been through much more. However, even after conferring quite a bit between the three of us, I realized I should still give Cait, if not both girls, the option of attending.
I mentioned it to her this afternoon and she asked for more information. I explained the details I had gleaned from the website and while she said it sounded like a great camp, she just didn't think she needed it. After all, she was really fine. I wondered aloud if that was truly the case and she just looked at me and asked me what I meant.
I indicated that I just wanted to be 1000% sure that I was not ignoring her needs or pretending that she was fine when she was really quite worried. Cait just looked at me, half-laughed and shook her head.
"Mom, I'm fine. Really, I'm fine. Yes, I was bit concerned in the beginning, but I knew you'd pull through!"
Oh. And with that, it will be shelter camp for Cait, shelter & animal camp for Kelsey and lots of sailing, swimming and beach time for the rest of us. However, I will, as long we are in the area, keep the other camp in the back of my mind, whether for us or someone else. I know all too well that stressors can pop up any time, and it never hurts to have something in place. Meanwhile...I'm still grinning about the pulling through bit. Classic Cait...she always has just the right words for the situation!
*If you know anyone who might benefit, please pass along as the registration for the DC area camp is April 1. Many thanks to Christy for sending me the link!
**Sigh, someday we will figure this one out...still on the table, still no decision.