When Something New Is Ventured And A Horse Named Milos: 7-10-11

Pegasus: Yesterday our daughter resumed her career in horseback riding in a pristine arena followed by a trail ride under a soft blue sky. She rode Milos, a grass-eating, somewhat distracted brown horse. She proudly sat tall in her saddle, monitoring her posture, which was one of her two stated goals, the other being staying on task, while her energetic instructor, Liz, bellowed directions to each of the four riders. Two assistants attend each rider, one on the right side, the other in front leading the horse. It was a glorious launch of a long-awaited return to the riding world.

The Contagion Of Anxiety, The Other Mothers and A Sibling: The three other moms and one sibling represented the familiar range of reactions to special needs activities. The newbies were clearly fraught with anxiety, almost quivering from fear that their child would not master this new task. “Transitions,” I mumbled to one mom and her daughter, “are always difficult but with time…” Blah blah blah. The sibling muttered anxiously to her mom, “They don’t know how to teach him. They are going too fast.”

The Toxic Stench of Anxiety: To the other mother, I suggested she might want to leave the arena for a bit, that the Pegasus team would know how to work with her son’s preoccupation with the straps of his helmet, shifting his focus from “mom” to the horse, the riding and the arena. The third mom was the other pro. Her son had been riding since childhood. She mentioned that she needed to go out to her car and we both strode out of the building “relieved.” Anxiety is contagious and familiar, filling both of us with painful memories.

When Something New Was Ventured: The younger fellow who was preoccupied with helmet straps, ten minutes later was holding the reins cowboy style atop his horse, clearly reveling in his new prowess. The other mom with attendant sibling looked joyful when their rider emerged with his group from the riding arena into the sunlight headed for the back trails. It all worked out, but boy, it only takes a nanosecond to feel that plunge into the nightmare world of failed attempts, meltdowns and parental disappointments that were the rule not that long ago when something new was ventured. And something new is about to be ventured for our daughter tomorrow morning at 8: 00 A.M.

Launch into The Adult Stratosphere: July 11 marks the beginning of our daughter’s adult programming. While on vacation my email was flooded with tentative schedules for her first week with Ability Beyond Disability. By the time we returned to the Northeast, the schedule was condensed onto one page, and included all three categories of her daily life.

By This Time Tomorrow: The first day of DSO, aka, Day Support Options, will have just ended and our daughter will be dropped off at home. In three weeks, the residential program kicks in. Fingers crossed, all news will be basically good news. We are old hands at “transition,” the contagion of anxiety, and the adjustments required of a new venture. So here it goes. Fingers crossed again.

©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011

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