Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Banana Boats, Baseball and Camp

This morning's small gift of joy was the Banana Boat Song on the radio, when I was driving in to work. The first time I heard the song was when Harry Belafonte guest starred on the Muppet Show (I know, I'm dating myself). There's the well-known and well-worn "De-O" but when I hear it now, what stands out is the smoothness of Mr. Belafonte's voice and the almost spiritual background chorus ("daylight come and me wan' go home..."). With a little more knowledge than I used to have of choral singing, I can pick out bits that I love: the bass voices that converge and make the dashboard vibrate, and the different notes making up a chord. But I still picture muppets on the end of the boat.

Last night I enjoyed a rare opportunity to attend a Phillies game. I had a pair of tickets for a corporate suite, and took a friend who could explain subtler points of the sport that I would have missed. What a game! The Phillies skunked the Reds 22-1, a game that was easy even for a novice to watch and enjoy, especially sitting just above the Phillies dugout. In the past, the few times I'd been to a game generally involved the nosebleed seats. It's not nearly the same, and I have just enough fear of heights to have thought a lot then about different possibilities for falling. Still, I have a very vivid childhood memory of Mike Schmidt hitting a grand slam in Veterans Stadium!

So, those are two good things in the present that also triggered memories of past joys. I wonder how I might describe the way experiences converge, like music does, to my children. I have spent most of the past several days coaching my Peanut through the grief involved with the end of a week at an amazing camp for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders. He struggles to accept or to forget or to move around the thought that he won't see those friends again for a whole year. Kids with Asperger's typically focus on the negative and tend to perseverate (remain excessively focused) on an idea, both of which have come into play and made it difficult for him to cope. I'm working on coaching him through it and trying to organize some sort of reunion picnic for the campers at the end of this summer - something positive and a much easier wait time.

It is so hard to let good things end, and I relate to his insistence that he just can't stand it. Some day the memory of camp, the memory of (hopefully) reuniting with his fellow campers and of returning to the camp will all be part of a comprehensive camp experience. He is so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go (I don't remind him of this when he is crying because he wants to go back, knowing it won't help). I remind him that every day it gets a little easier to keep going, and try to teach him to trust that there can be more of a good thing, even if you can't see it right now. And, somehow, the past and the present will come together to amplify the joy.

You don't look back along memory but down through it, like water. Sometimes this comes to the surface, sometimes that, sometimes nothing. Nothing ever goes away. -- Margaret Atwood

No comments: