Katie Turns 13

J0341653I am now in possession of a teenager.

Part of me has no idea how this happened, and the other part knows exactly how it happened. My daughter and I are thirteen years older than we were when we first met on a stormy January night an hour after she was born. Many things have changed since that fateful day, but not the unwavering conviction, the certainty, that she and I were meant to be together.

I had no idea what was in store for us when I agreed to adopt Katie and take her home, but I have never regretted the decision to invite her into my life—even though it cost me a marriage and a career in environmental advocacy, not to mention financial security, social conformity, and a lifestyle that seems, in retrospect, blissfully free of chaos, paperwork, and struggle.

It was, in some ways, the best decision I have ever made. Certainly one of the bravest.

This week marks the anniversary of that choice. I wanted to celebrate, even if Katie was rather blasé about the whole thing. She was more excited about visiting a new special needs camp run by Via Services, located in the Cupertino foothills.

32583202654_e5e090b8e6_kThe weekend before her birthday, Katie packed her duffle and attended camp. She had a wonderful time despite far too much rain. This camp has a focus on cooking, which Katie loved, but also an indoor gym for days when the weather won’t allow outdoor activities. Apparently my daughter is a big fan of the elliptical machine! Katie baked (and ate) pie, attended a dance, made new friends, and discovered workout equipment. In short, she loved it and can’t wait to go back.

On Katie’s birthday, Melissa (our new tutor/sitter) and I met with our kids at Emerald Park in Dublin for swinging, rock climbing, sand play, and cupcakes. Then we headed to Rockin’ Jump, a fabulous trampoline center located a few blocks away.

IMG_1011Katie had been to Rockin’ Jump several times in the past, but it had been awhile. Strangely her incredible memory only applied to the place, not the JUMPING! At first she was afraid to leave the narrow bands that connect the trampolines. She inched along and flinched whenever a kid came near her. Melissa and I had to coax her out to the center of a trampoline and then get her used to the bouncing motion. I’m serious. Katie was anxious about bouncing. Go figure.

It took some patience (at least on my part), but eventually Katie was laughing and jumping nonstop. As predicted, I had to bribe her to leave with dinner at Red Robin. Katie wanted “chicken on a stick” with a coke. Anything for the birthday girl, who polished off her meal and half of mine, then ate a few more chocolate cupcakes while opening her presents at home. All in all, it was an excellent day.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I think the teen years may be the best yet.

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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