Before Sam decided to join, she explained that Pedya Kamp had been encouraging volunteers and giving summer camps since 1991. Spearheaded by a group of doctors from Makati Medical Center, they have travelled to other parts of the country and even to the US to give and share the joys of having not just a memorable summer but "of turning moments into memories," as well.One of her instructors who had been a volunteer since its first year had found it fulfilling and wanted to share that experience with my daughter.
As always I had lots of questions even though the registration fee for being a volunteer only costs 200 pesos (approximately less than $50) and the summer camp will be totally free. Aside from the required seminars that she has to attend, there were other activities that she needs to go to. I have no questions about her taking care of other kids but it was Red that I was concerned about.The group will leave Manila at 10:00 in the evening as it will be a six hour drive, and all through out the trip Red will start to bond with her new sister which is a first. I suddenly felt a pang of separation anxiety for my son.
"I do not think that the idea of your son being with a stranger for ten days worry you, but the thought of not being needed anymore worries you more," said my bald friend. I told him that was not true. He replied with a confident laugh in which he said, "You must have forgotten that I can see through you."
I wanted to strangle the man though I know it will be useless as he was a self defense instructor. So I just told him how hateful he was which he knew was not true. He just replied with a smile and added, "You cannot be with him all the time. He needs to grow up even if he is a special child. You just have to learn to let go.
It was not easy. Over the weekend I would find myself thinking of those ten days that Sam and Red will be away in Isabela. Though the group had coordinated with the Mayor and his constituents, I still am worried mostly with Red's condition because his speech is still delayed. Sadly I cannot even visit them because of money reasons and the demands of my work. Tears in my eyes dwelled knowing that I was having a hard time letting go of my son and my friend was right.
Perhaps it is just normal for us parents to be attached to our kids especially if they have special needs. We tend to be protective, doting, always running to their side to the point of being extreme, forgetting they are children who need space and yearn lots of play and adventure. And at times I am guilty on some counts. I fear that if Red plays with other kids, he will get hurt simply because he cannot be understood. He is so hyperactive and might hurt other kids without him knowing what that means. Some parents still do not understand that and I cannot explain in detail about my son's condition every time.Though my kids had gotten used to it, sometimes such cycle do get tiring.
Sam reassured me that parents, guardians and relatives will be updated by the days' activities through facebook. As volunteers they were advised to refrain from using their phones except during emergencies because they need to be focused on the kids that they will be taking care of. They have schedules that needed to be followed. Activities like swimming, arts and crafts, visiting the locality and other tourist attractions, going to church and a Special Olympics will definitely fill those ten days. She added that by the time she and Red returns home, he would have learned how to swim and improved on his speech.
As parents, we want our kids to become independent and productive citizens of the society. Aside from giving them the opportunity to learn,we have to trust them enough to know what the world really is.That may sound impossible in Red's case, but in order for my son to believe in himself, I need to have a little faith that he can do it. I need to teach myself because one day he will have to rely more on himself so not to burden others. He need to spread his wings in order to fly, and if one day he falls, I need to believe that he will try again.Until he can do it. He might get lost in the process but I know he will return.That much I know...because he is my son.
(images credit to facebook.com)