Dying/broken/forgiven.... now I begin

Born: 17-06-56....gemini.... monkey
re-born: 3-09-80
born again\found: 14-04-08
other notable dates: 10-03-68; 03-09-87; 23-03-96;
1-05-98; 31-01-02; 5-04-04

Interests: movement, stressed/transgressive embodiment, lived experience (body\space\time\relation)
expression ( word, dance, text, image, story, music, poetics)
learning, yielding......

Hopes for the blog:
offer up the wild intersectedness of lived experience and engage others in creative, expressive, perhaps irreverant, hopefully playful, and respectful encounters....
enact kindness
create moments of pause for disclosure, discovery, stillness

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Would you rather.....

Boys (and, sometimes, girls), of a particular age play " would you rather", a game of word play, a game of awful choices, all the while trying to out- gross each other with progressively disgusting  leaps of imaginative comparison. I have heard the exchanges for the past two weeks at our autism camp. Here are a few examples:
"would you rather eat the gum off the sole of my shoe, or eat boogers out of your brother's nose?"
"would you rather pick up a dead squirrel or kiss a boy on the mouth?" ( I should point out that homophobia  runs hot and high among the 8-13 year old boys at camp).
"would you rather drink snot or drool?"

You get the gist , I'm sure.

I 've also heard some other versions of "would you rather" over the past two weeks, choices impossible and necessary, choices that have made me laugh and made me cry. Here are a few examples:
Kimmi is a 6 year old Romanian adoptee at our camp. She has autism, but is  in most ways anyone would notice a typical little girl who likes to swim and play and have friends, who is afraid of bees and loud noises,  who perhaps cries  more readily and more intensely than might be comfortable for some, and who perhaps has more focused interest in the minute details of every situation. Kimmi 's mom tells me that Kimmi  will miss the last day of camp. She hates to do this, but Kimmi has received a play date invitation and it happens so seldom that mom feels that she can't say no. Would you rather have your daughter miss the last day of a camp she enjoys more than anything else she does during the year or miss a play date that hardly ever happens?
Bowling is a new activity for camp. Our first foray into bowling was last year with only half the campers going. This summer, we take the whole pack of them..... yup, 55 campers week one and 60 campers week two. Manager of bowling alley week one tells me the kids cannot bring their lunch into the establishment. I tell him they will inhale their lunch in 10 minutes and will be up for their shoes and bowling within five minutes of said inhalation of lunch. He had that look of non-negotiation on his face. I say,  if these kids don't eat their lunch NOW,  you will experience a catastrophe beyond your wildest imaginings. He and I engage in a brief, yet meaningful, staring contest. He says, fine, they can eat. Would you rather let 55  kids and young adults with autism carry out their scheduled lunch or have them move into their respective demonstrations of profound confusion and anxiety?
Dimitri is a genius inhabiting the body of a 7 year old, who looks like a 5 year old,  who thinks everyone at camp is stupid except him. He needs a predictable schedule  and  will tantrum at the slightest variation. He is a drama king, a true virtuoso. One of his tactics is the flop and wail  while protesting the gross injustices of the universe. I ask, do you want to walk or be carried? He wants to tell me that of all the stupid people at camp, I am the stupidest. Maybe so, I agree, but I am not laying on the floor crying like a baby. This is what is known as redirection. Something that gets his mind off his distress. He stops and considers the scenario I have just presented ..... his little forehead scrunching up in concentration. Do you want to walk or be carried? Would you rather get yourself under control or choose to get some help with that?
This summer is the 15th year of this camp. Would I rather be on vacation, or here, with these oft-times complicated, most times delightful kids and young people who want nothing more than to be treated like they have a right to belong?
No contest.


  1. Funny thing is every single person I have ever met that considers themselves to be the sanest of the sane and the most mentally trouble free are neck in neck with the biggest assholes I have ever met. There is no photo finish necessary because they are both the same horses ass.

    Enjoy your labors, it adds bouquet to the flavors of the kids.

    And I would advise that girls mother to let her stay for obvious reasons.

  2. I wish I had had (?) so loving a counselor.
    My prayers and thoughts are with you.

  3. WM-- good insights and comments. and thanks for the kind words.
    Punch-- i've been doing this kind of work a long time and it's immensely rewarding. it's easy to romanticize this kind of service based work; however, i am more inclined to advocate for qualified interested specialists who do a good job because that's what a qualified interested specialist is supposed to do. that being said,thanks for the kind words.

  4. Catching up on your posts here; you're giving us a peek into a world most of us don't get to see, and should! Thank you for sharing this, and for the work you do! I guess now I do believe in angels.

  5. intelliwench--aw, shucks!! thanks for the compliment. but, honestly, this has been my life for over 25 years.... it's what i do. it's my pleasure to bring others into this intriguing way of being in the world.