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Food for thought…..

Food for thought… I had a diagnosis “Scoliosis “ and “Ehlers Danlos syndrome” since infancy. One pediatrician even told mom “you can just look at her and see she isn’t normal.” In reference to me.. a baby. An innocent little baby. Now my parents had 2 choices in raising me:

-Either prove society wrong and that my life had worth, treat me like they would like my older brother (who is “normal”) and raise me to be independent and self sufficient to the best of my abilities…

or

– and I’ve seen this with some families(not all)..give them a “pass”, no expectations of them, no discipline or correcting them. “Oh they have this diagnosis, they don’t understand “…blah blah blah excuse after excuse. “..no boo, they can understand “right and wrong,” but you just don’t wanna go through the “headache “ and time of teaching them. Or worse, you pity them and feel sorry for them;which will “cripple “ and “handicaps” them more. The world is rough and tough, it will not pity them, they need to be prepared.

My parents were tough but fair. I may not got namebrand clothes or expensive shoes, I didn’t get toys or candy every Time I went into store (unless I had my own allowance or money I saved or special occasion/holidays), I didn’t get cell phone till high school (16),I had some chores to do(whatever I could), I was held accountable for my grades and misbehavior. On the flipside, I never did without food, shelter, clothes, I had toys, I was taken on vacations,but there was lots of love and plenty of memories made. That’s wayyy important.

Life isn’t easy for anyone. But it’s up to that person to decide “do I wanna live like this? (Poverty, struggles, victim mentality “poor me,”) or do I pick myself up by my bootstraps and make better for myself.” Its all about perspectives, confidence, determination,and willpower.

Am I saying there aren’t obstacles in life that cause delays and blocks on your life road? No. Absolutely not. Never would I say that. And I’m not saying not to vent or fight for change. But it’s better to lead by example to be the change you wanna see. Be the spark for change; Be a Leader.

Turn to God’s light and goodness and he will bless you. God bless everyone.

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Life Journey: Jr High, Lowes Trip, Sassy teen, Angry dads; oh my!!

In Jr. High was the time I back-sassed my dad in Lowe’s. First, let me explain that I was grouchy because I didn’t want to be there, to begin with, but yet I was forced to go with him. We were at checkout and we had roach spray, along with many mouse/rat traps. The clerk said some statement about: “you must have a mouse problem?” I replied: “Oh, yes! A lot!” My dad replied: “Jamie, we don’t have a problem; just an occasional mouse or two from the field next door.” But of course, Jamie with the big blabbermouth didn’t shut up until dad growing frustrated told me “Jamie, Stop.” Well, I was mad that he cut me off from telling my stories, plus the fact he forced me to come anyway. Once dad had paid for the stuff, he asked me to carry the bag, to which I replied: “Why can’t you do it; I’m not your slave.” Oh, you should have seen the vein in his temple throb, and his face turn red; I knew I had crossed the line: “No daddy, I’m sorry; don’t whip me!” as loud as I could in Lowe’s, not realizing that if anyone heard him, they could report him for “child abuse,” when he was just disciplining his child. Boy, was my dad embarrassed and furious! I think if my child ever did that to me, I would have whipped them when we got in the car! I was so scared that I didn’t get into the front passenger seat, instead, I got into the backseat on the floorboard; trying to avoid my Dad’s wrath! (He still loves to hold this story over my head! LOL)

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Scoliosis Journey: Cough,Cough, first Summer Pneumonia

Due to the severity of my Scoliosis/Kyphosis, in summer after 4th grade, I had my first bout of Pneumonia. For those who may not be aware of everything that Scoliosis effects, here’s a health lesson; it’s not just the spine. Sure, the definition is “Lateral curve of the spine,” but it all depends on the severity. My Scoliosis became what is known as Kyphosis, “Hump Back,” and is multiple curves, whereas Scoliosis is just one curve. The more a spine curves, the more it can cause other internal problems in important organs such as the heart, stomach, lungs, etc. Before my surgery in 2012, my lung capacity was 18-20%, I had ribs twisted around my spine, a lot of stomach problems, and problems that were never diagnosed or discovered until my pre-op visit or after surgery; (How weird is that?) Anyway, I was almost finished with my week of Summer VBS (Vacation Bible School- a weeklong camp that is put on by local churches/religions), when the Wednesday night, I started to develop a cough. Mom took me in to see my pediatrician, and he said, it had started as a typical “summer cold,” and due to my hatred of shots, my doctor just gave us cough medicine. The medicines, however, did not work, instead, my cough progressed until I had a “popping” in my back every time I coughed. I say Pneumonia, but it might’ve been bronchitis that was turning into Pneumonia, I don’t remember exactly what the doctor had told my mom, other than the fact I needed a shot; that memory stuck with me!
We went down to the pharmacy that was in the same plaza as my pediatrician’s office and as soon as we got back to the doctor’s office and I saw that needle, I had a full meltdown in the doctor’s office, to the point where mom had to hold me down. Normally shots are given in the arms, or the butt, right? Mine was in my legs because it was the only spot on my body that had “any meat” on me. You should’ve seen it, mom holding me in her lap, me tossing and turning, her having to trap my legs under hers so I wouldn’t try to kick; I laugh now that I think about it because shots aren’t that bad anymore, sure they are unpleasant, but really a quick pinch and then it’s over.

After the shot, I was crying and telling my doctor “I hated” him and how “he was so mean,” being a total brat, but by that night, I felt like 50% better. Shots may suck, but you feel a lot better afterward because they work quicker than medicine. Life is a lot like a shot, there are changes we don’t like or can’t deal with, we cry and boo-day about it, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is going to happen; it’s a slight “pinch” (shock/anger/sadness, etc), but then we adapt to it and are over it.

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Puppies, Kitties, and Furry critters; Oh My!!!Animal Lover to the end

I have always been an animal lover: I got my first dog (although I don’t remember him) at infancy; his name was “Fred” and he was a black lab. He ran away when I was 2 years old because Mom had put him outside because he had gotten too big. We had other dogs when I was in pre-k, but I don’t remember them well: What were their names, etc.? When I was about 5, I got a mixed dog and named it “Ladybug”; don’t ask me why? I think I was aiming for Lady from Lady and the Tramp, Who knows. We also got our mixed dog (part Rottweiler part German Police dog), Cajun for my brother Jared; that was a good dog! She was gentle and calm with kids/ mostly me, she knew lots of tricks: like you toss a ball in the air and she would catch it. She let me ride her like a “pony” because I kept bugging Dad for a pony, and he said “Cajun can be your pony” and I said, “But she’s a dog!” By age 10, Cajun figured I was too big to ride her anymore and would sit when I’d try; so I would just slide off of her. LOL. We also dog-sat for my Nanny; her dog was a Cocker Spaniel mix (I believe) named Freckles, but the dog ran away. Shortly after, Lady Bug ran away too and I remember telling Mom, “Lady Bug is going find Freckles; that’s why she left!” I felt so bad about losing my nanny’s dog; considering at the time she had just lost her father, her husband, and her only son all in that same year; I offered to buy her a new dog, but she refused.
We also had dog-sat my “Poppee’s” dog, Pumpkin, but Pumpkin got into the front yard and got hit by a car on the highway. We also had some cats: An orange cat I got in kindergarten that I named Toulouse because I was obsessed with Aristocats movie; sadly that kitten got out of our garage and as Mom was pulling into our driveway, she accidentally ran him over. I remember I cried and said “It’s all your fault,” Sorry about that Mom, but I was 5. LOL.
When I was 6 years old, my favorite cousin Christine called Mom saying she had found a white cat with blue eyes at a gas station; Mom had been wanting a white cat with blue eyes, however, this cat had green eyes that looked blue in certain angles. We took it home and I named her “Snowball” because she was white and fluffy. I loved Snowball, but she, despite being “fixed”, still ran off with a stray male cat; however, I think someone might have picked her up and kept her because we had a collar and tags on her. After Snowball, when I was in 2nd grade, Dad, and Mom found 2 baby tabby kittens that couldn’t lap milk yet; Thinking I was still asleep, they both agreed “Don’t tell Jamie,” because I would want to keep them. Well, I heard them and ran outside to see what the secret was. They were named “Tuffy” and “Tweety” because I thought Tweety was a girl, I knew Tuffy was a boy; however, they both turned out to be males and had to be put outside due to peeing outside the litterbox. While they were kittens, they would trample over my Barbie stuff so we’d say “Ahh, the fuzzy gorilla kitties are attacking! RUNNNN!” We also had to bottle feed them for a while; they would bite and claw, so mom would wrap them in a towel to feed them; Dad often said: “That Mom didn’t come back because these little sh*ts were abusive while feeding; She ditched them!” LOL.

In 3rd grade, after a misunderstanding at Durell’s pet store at the mall leading me to fall in love with a dachshund puppy (despite not being able to afford it from the pet store,) I eventually got a dachshund puppy named Oscar. Oscar had been bought by one of my neighbor’s friends’ for their toddler, but he was too hyper for their child and for $150 he became my dog. He was a “horny little Weiner” because he would often hump legs or try to “get with” my brother’s big Rottweiler/German Shephard mixed dog, Cajun. As he got older, he became more aggressive and would “snap,” and bite people. He, however, was like Mom’s shadow- he loved mom and followed her everywhere.

In 9th grade, for my birthday, I got a kitten from one of my neighbors who’s cat had just had kittens(they were outside and the siblings eventually got drug off by a wild animal- coyote or hawk or something). I named him Taz (Tazmanian Devil) because he and my brother’s ferret, Spaz, played together (Spaz and Taz.) He loves my Mom and my brother, but cannot stand me and my dad; he is also very antisocial and “demon spawn,” but I still love him or try to.

In 2010, a stray beagle fell out the back of a pickup truck as we were going out to eat and we picked her up, but by the time we got her into the car and got stuck behind a red light, we had lost the truck. We took the beagle home and ran an ad in the paper for a week, called shelters and vets to put flyers, etc. but no one claimed her. I wanted to keep her and named her “Mya” because Oscar tried to “get with her,” so “Oscar-Mya” (Oscar Myer).

In 2016, After losing Mya to a terrible accident on the road, I told my parents I wanted a new dog for Christmas, however, I got the “present” early in August when I found a cute puppy listed as a beagle mix on a shelter group on Facebook. Her name was Beignet and she was about 4 months of age at the time. 4 years later, and I can say she is one of the best dogs I ever owned. She is my best friend and I love her so much- she makes me laugh, brings me comfort when I pet her, loves to play, cuddles/snuggles, etc. Although we suspect she is an American Foxhound (mix or purebred unknown) because she is bigger than a beagle and many in public ask if she is, so we researched it, and found she has mannureisms and appearances of an American Foxhound. Whatever her breed, she is the best dog friend ever.

Those are just a few examples of my love of animals; there are many more stories that I could share, but I will spare you; for now: P lol. I am an animal lover: My dream is to own a lot of lands and has many cats and dogs, some ferrets, some bunnies, maybe a few hamsters, even a horse. I want my future children to love animals as much as I do; animals can be great companions and quite therapeutic and relaxing to just snuggle with them. ❤

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Beignet: Grooming incident and photo modeling

Yesterday, Wed March 18, 2020, while I was using the “dog shaver” to see about Beignet’s loose dog hair, she was more hyper than usual and wouldn’t keep still. Long story short, she moved while I was going down her back with it, and when she moved, I slipped and got the back of one of her legs- a small cut on her leg and bleeding a little. We went inside, I got bacitracin, gauze, bandaid, and medical tape and bandaged her up. I walked away to put the stuff away and come back to find she had already chewed halfway through the tape, gauze, and bandaid. 

Later that night, I decided to practice my photography skills and used Beignet as my model and uploaded them to her Instagram to try to build up her following and add to her content. I am trying to get her some brand deals; I am almost like those moms who push their kids into casting calls. ugh. Not good, but I can’t help it, she is just so cute and a pretty dog and so photogenic. 

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Life Journey: Sibling Rivalry- Big Bro Little Sis relationship

My brother and I’s relationship has gone back as far as to when I was in the womb. Mom often wrote that my brother would tell her, “It’s a girl because all she wants is junk.” Mom ate just healthy foods when she was pregnant with my brother, whereas, for me, it was just junk food.  Another interesting fact is that my brother is the one who picked, “Jamie,” for my name; Mom and Dad wanted a “J” name, who knows how he picked it: maybe it was because Dad’s middle name was James, or maybe he just liked the name.

Once I was born, he often spent time with me. There are pictures of him holding me, or sitting with me in the rocker under some covers. When I was 2 years old, he’d follow me around with the video camera and video me; it’s one of my favorite videos even though the camera shook and watching it, can make you sick from all the motion because it shows he loved and interacted with me. I gave him the nickname “boy” when I began talking; my uncle/ Paran would call him that, and I picked up the habit. When I was 2, I’d beg him to read with me and he would sometimes. Our relationship started to get strained when I was in pre-k because he started to become a pre-teen/teenager.

When I was 5, I would sit at the front door like an eager puppy, waiting for him to get off the bus. I’d jump around excited, “bubba’s home! Bubba’s home!” Would he pay me any mind once he got home? Nope. He’d walk past me, annoyed from school, go to his room and slam the door. He was in Jr. High at the time and Mom says, she wouldn’t interact with him much except to make sure he was still alive, and to let him know the food was ready.

When you are a younger sibling, you often tend to look up and emulate/try to imitate your older siblings, out of the feelings of “that is how I need to act, just like____ ((whatever the name may be). For me, when I tried to do things my older brother, Jared, did, it often got me into trouble; examples of this include the time I nearly drowned at Blue Bayou Water Park in the wave pool and another time when I was crossing the highway we live on, to head home from the neighborhood across the street from where we lived.

I was about 5 years old, and every summer one of the highlights was to go to Blue Bayou Water Park with my Aunt (one of Mom’s sisters-in-law) and her children. At the time I had not taken swimming lessons yet, so I stayed in the shallow ends of the wave pool, or went in the kiddie pool. We were in the wave pools and the waves had not started yet; my Brother had come to meet us and right before the waves started up again, he was heading out to the deeper parts; At the time, I admired and looked up to my older brother, and tried to follow him. I was crawling on my hands and knees into the deeper and deeper (but still in the shallow part) of the wave pool; the waves started and knocked me over, and I started to panic, so I didn’t even think to stand up and run back to mom. I just stayed under the water, coughing and spitting up water, waving my arms. Mom ran over and “rescued” me. I think it was this incident that convinced mom to get me into swimming lessons. The pool and water soon became a big part of therapy for me and I love to swim now; I am convinced I am part mermaid. I want to be able to breathe underwater, swim with dolphins; I want to be just like “Ariel,” the little mermaid.

The other incident was when I nearly got hit on the highway we live on. My Brother, his friend, my mom, and I were across the highway in the neighborhood, riding bikes (I had training wheels on mine). The sun was starting to set, and the mosquitos were coming out and biting me. My brother and his friend were old enough to cross the highway by themselves, so they told mom and began to leave. Mom was talking and visiting with one of the neighbors, kind of distracted; I kept tugging on her arm, ready to go, but she wasn’t listening. That is when I saw my brother and his friend leaving, so I followed them; His friend noticed and started to lag to watch me. My brother looked both ways and crossed the highway, with me behind him. I, however, was too young to know the whole “look both ways before crossing,” rule, and started right behind my brother, just as a huge 18 wheeler started towards me, really fast. Luckily, my brother’s friend was behind me. He grabbed me out of the road just in time. Dad was in the front yard, and he looked like he was about to have a stroke! I think my brother got in trouble instead of me, but I can’t remember for sure.

I think it was after those two incidents, I learned not to try to imitate my older brother. He was older and knew how to handle life more than a little kindergartener did.

My brother and I did fight and have that sibling rivalry thing, up until I returned from surgery. We had rare moments where we didn’t fight or argue, but we were two different individuals. When I was younger, Jared had chores, while I didn’t; when dad would fuss at Jared to go do chores, occasionally I’d fuss dad and say “quit working Jared like you a slave-driver, dad,” but he’d often tell me “stay out of it, Jamie.” And I quickly shut up.

When we did argue/fight, it was often because I was a hyper little brat; I will admit that. I think it was mostly, I wanted him to play with me, and he wouldn’t. I called him names: “Jar-head, armadillo (I have no idea why,) Boy (that was more when I was a baby/preschooler).” Sometimes, I’d have a “food fight” at him with my tea-party play food. He was a boring teenager who didn’t want to play with his kid sister, and I wanted attention from my big brother; I just sought it annoyingly. He would pull jokes and pranks on me, and I took it the wrong way and would cry. When I was 2 years old, he put a frog in the “golden Easter egg” during an Easter egg hunt, and to this day, I blame that for my phobia of frogs.  Sometimes, I would pick/instigate it, and when he’d try to “strike back,” I’d go hide; like the one time in 2nd grade when we had ice/snow, I went outside, got some icicles, and stuck it down the back of his shirt when he wasn’t looking. Afterward, he went outside to get some, I ran to the bathroom and locked the door.  

When he had friends over, I’d try to hang out with them, tag along, and sometimes he’d lock me out of his room, or they’d torment me, by locking me in the hallway till I was a crying mess, banging on the doors; sometimes, one friend and him would pretend that they were going to put me in the oven; they wouldn’t actually turn the oven on, just open it and act like they were going to put me in; I’d cling to that friend’s neck and beg “No!”

 One time when I was 6 years old, he had to babysit me. I was playing with his Nintendo NES, but he got mad that I had taken it out of his room without permission, so he unplugged it, and put it back into his room.  I was easily scared of everything and every villain of every movie, but yet, I watched Anastasia the movie that night and slept on the floor in a sleeping bag in his room. I heard a noise, a voice,“Jamie, go unlock the back door.” It was my parents; it turns out they had locked themselves out. I tried to shake Jared awake, but to no success; I was so scared that it was a bad guy, trying to trick me, but I did go unlock the door and luckily it was my parents; I later found out, my brother was faking sleep just to see what I would do; what a jerk! 

As I got into my teen years, he would be annoyed because unlike him, I had no “thirst” for knowledge. He felt I was “ignorant” and that was one of his pet peeves. He’d occasionally try to help me with math or science, but he’d end up confusing me more, and I’d get aggravated and snap at him. Other than that, we didn’t talk or hang out, mostly cause he was in college and I was still young and “ignorant”.  The only time I remember him smiling during this time was the one time he got drunk and “creepy”; we had gone to a wedding for a cousin, and then after we went to see a movie: Mom, Dad, my brother, his girlfriend, and me. I don’t know how this happened, but somehow I got this seat between him and his girlfriend; my brother started to hug me, smiling, and ruffle my hair: I wasn’t used to that treatment by my brother, so I looked at his girlfriend and said: “switch seats with me, I think your boyfriend is plotting to kill me.” Another memory around this time was when I was getting curious about my Ehlers Danlose and my brother who always had an interest in science, came to me and held a scalpel and said: “all I need is a skin sample and I can get you your answers.” I looked at him and yelled “I’m not a science project, heck no! I’m not letting you cut me with that thing, get it away from me, weirdo!”

It wasn’t until I guess that I got into college myself, that we started to have a different relationship. When I’d see him, he’d ask me about my classes and how they were going, he’d offer to help me out when I’d hurt with aches, etc.  He was there when I met Dr. Lenke for the first time, and he asked questions to Dr. Lenke. When my family did a benefit for my medical funds, he and his girlfriend helped out a lot. I guess what I am saying is, once I got into college myself, and wasn’t as “bratty” and “ignorant” he started to like/tolerate me, but it wasn’t until I got home from my St Louis journey, that our relationship got to what it is now; When I first got home, I had gotten a new computer and he was helping set it up. He had me sit next to him to watch, but he would ruffle my hair, and just smile at me; it’s like “uh…weren’t you suppose to ruffle my hair like that when I was 5?” Now when we see each other, we give hugs, no kisses because that’d just be too odd. He asks about how things are going in my life. I ask about his occasionally. We have a good relationship now, it was odd at first because I was so used to the tension, but I love it now. I know when I need it, my big brother will always have my back; Love you, Bro. 

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All about the money: Why does adulting have to be so expensive? (post from Nov. 2019)

I try to usually be a pretty positive person, but like we are struggling financially. The mattress in our bedroom is killing both me and my fiance’ backs so need a new mattress (plus I am still paying this mattress off, 4 years later.).
I dropped my laptop a few weeks back and ever since, have been having to use HDMI cable and tv as a monitor because the screen doesn’t wanna turn on and the last few days, the laptop is starting to show signs of dying worse off. (My fiance says he will build me a desktop pc, so hopefully, my laptop can hold off till then or I can afford to get a keyboard accessory for my Ipad Mini tablet. (I will need one eventually when I go back to college classes.) Since then, my laptop has stopped working with HDMI and my fiance’s cousin is looking into fixing my laptop and since its family, I probably will get a discount but will still cost sadly.

Then finally, I feel like I am straining my eyes more and more each day, even with my glasses. I cannot afford to go to LensCrafters (they don’t take Medicaid) at the moment. Sometimes I think I should just bite the bullet and just get the fricken laser surgery, but I am also scared to do it.

I hate ranting and venting, It just gets overwhelming at times…
Also, Shane Dawson, a YouTuber I have been following since the beginning of his career 2008, and Jeffree Star (who I just started following last year on youtube) collabed and made a makeup collection together and I cannot afford it and I am legit sad and disappointed about it. I just miss being able to afford all the things I wanted. But no, I gotta “adult” and pay for college out of pocket, pay for bills, and rent (thankfully after March that will be done..the rent anyway.) Things will get better, this is just a bump in the road. With God at the helm, I am positive we can make it through any rough weather. ❤ ❤ ❤ God’s will be done.

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Dreaming big!

I have a lot of dreams and ambitions, even despite having a severe chronic physical disability/handicap, but with the right amount of patience, determination, willpower, confidence, hard work, and God almighty at the helm of my life, anything is possible.

I will pick one thing at a time and will try to accomplish them all eventually, but one at a time.

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Disability Journey: Camp We Can Do- My heaven on Earth!!

What teenage girl that has raging hormones and mood swings has never asked the question, “why? Why me?” or said the phrase, “I am ugly”? I know I have said it a lot. When you feel like the only person who has a disability or the only one “outcast from the ‘normal’ children, it can feel quite lonely and you feel very shy and don’t want to socialize and make friends; Camp We Can Do was my answer to this problem.

Camp We Can Do is a day camp that lasts all summer for kids with special needs of all kinds; ranging from ADHD to the most extreme of cases: Autism, Physical disabilities, Down syndrome, and some others. Too numerous to name them all. It is like the camp is a haven for kids who feel like outcasts due to their disabilities. It’s a “World of our own;” which was the theme for the 2007 camp year.

I first heard about Camp We Can Do from my friend that I made when I was in pre-school who has Autism; his parents told my parents about camp because Mom had tried to figure out something to get me out the house during the summers, and this was her answer; it didn’t involve pushing me to try to sleep away from home (I hated sleeping away from home; I got scared too much).

When I heard the news about going to camp, I was so nervous since I was going to be new to the camp, “how would the kids like me? Would I look like a freak to them too? What should I wear so I look okay? What if I made a mistake and got teased?”  Boy, did I worry so much! When Mom and I went shopping for the usual summer clothing shopping trip, I would always ask when I was trying on, “Does this hide my curve?” I would try something on and come out “Does this hide my back? How’s this swimsuit look? It isn’t too tight or reveals my back curve too much? “Does this look okay?” “Ugh, this looks so bad!” “Why I got to be so fat and ugly?!” “I hate my life.” Oh it could go on and on, I hated shopping because if something I liked, didn’t look good on me or didn’t fit right, my whole world would fall apart and then would come the waterworks; you should’ve been there to see an eleven-year-old throwing a tantrum in the store like a little baby!

The first day finally came, I was so scared and nervous: I didn’t talk to anyone, I kept to myself, and didn’t want to take part in activities. I was also very unprepared; I didn’t know I needed a blanket for nap time/”quiet time” or that I needed a snack for snack time (luckily a nice girl who is now one of my best friends, who was like five years old at the time, shared her snack with me.)

After that first day, I loosened up and realized, they won’t tease me or make fun of me. We were all in the same boat; cast aside from the “normal” kids.

When I was a camper at Camp We Can Do, I also acted like a “MOM” to some of the younger children. Sometimes I’d get dropped off early when Dad would bring me. I got there when some of the little kids would get dropped off, and you know little kids when Mommy and Daddy leave, they cry. I would entertain and make them forget that they just got “abandoned” at Camp. There was one little girl who I am not sure of her diagnosis when she’d get dropped off, I’d take her to the bathroom because we had limited staff for early drop-offs. I’d give her some Peanut butter crackers because she was often hungry, I bought her a toothbrush and would bring toothpaste and help her brush her teeth, and would wash her face up with a wet rag. After that, I’d take her to the TV room with the other Early Drop-offs, put her sitting on my lap, and hug her while we watched PBS kids (which I hated, but I dealt with it). When we’d go bowling, I’d often be the one to take her to the bathroom because I was the only “trustworthy” camper (nice way of saying Mentally able to handle the responsibility) and we didn’t have extra staff to take them individually and if we didn’t take her then and there, she’d sometimes have accidents. She loved to sit on my lap, whether it be for arts and crafts, cooking in the kitchen, etc. In the morning exercises, I would help get her engaged by saying “(Name), look. Just like I do” and she’d imitate me. She made me laugh cause she had this cute little phrase “Shake da booty” when they would play music at camp and she’d shake her butt. I often got into fights with the “foster grandparents” because they would force her to get out of my lap, “She’s too big for that, “or “you are a camper, not a staff,” or “She needs to sit in her chair.” Some days, when I’d clean out my closet (since I was in children’s clothes at the time) and she was about as big as I was, I’d sometimes bring her extra clothes and told her mom that she could keep it or bring it back, it didn’t matter. Sometimes I brought her toys and let her take them home for a week, and then she’d bring back to “trade out” for something new. I think her favorite time was snack time, though because she always got her favorite treat; yogurt. She loved yogurt and I always packed it. As soon as I’d open my snack box and she saw it, she’d squeal “OGIE!” (Which was how she said “yogurt”) and I’d spoon feed it to her every day. When she’d get sick at camp, I’d stay by her side the entire time. I’d run and get water for her, watch the nurse take temperature, run and get blankets, whatever she needed, I ran

and got. When we’d wait for her parents to pick her up, when she was sick, I didn’t care if I would get sick, I would hold her in my lap, covered up in a blanket and rock her.

I miss her so much now, but I think her family moved, but she will always remain in my heart as my “little camp daughter.”

Sure I loved my years at camp we can do, but there were downsides to it, as well.  One downside was when I stood up to a camper for one of my friends and this camper punched me in the face.  I got in trouble for not telling a counselor, instead of taking it into my own hands. Another downside was when I got in trouble with a counselor, but I was allowed to leave my groups to help with photos by the director. When the counselors would fuss me over what I deemed “Stupid stuff” I’d tell them off and got sassy. Now that I am older and have volunteered as a staff, I realize what they were trying to do. 

I loved camp, and I loved the friends I made through Camp We Can Do, but there were times I didn’t like as well but like everything else: You take the good with the Bad.

As a child with a disability myself, I have always been exposed to different special needs and disabilities, but my first “real” exposure to Autism didn’t happen until I was 12 years old and met a boy who would later be known as “my autistic stalker,” because he would call me all the time and never give me any space, but that’s later in this story.

When I was 12, I met “my autistic stalker,” at camp through his neighbor, and a counselor at Camp We Can Do, who had her own Autistic son. She drove all of us to Camp from Opelousas. My “Autistic Stalker” when I first met him, was a quiet, shy boy who mostly kept to himself except when he got the sudden urge to quote characters from cartoons; That is until he met me.

Don’t get me wrong, he was like that with me too, at first, but each morning I would get in the car, greet him with a smile “Good Morning (name)” and give him a hug. By the end of that summer, I had broken him out of his “Autistic Shell,” and got him talking. The following school year, however, the adaptive P.E. coach who traveled to all the schools, told me that I had developed a “Secret admirer” in this boy.

Since I had never “truly” experienced any relations with an Autistic boy before; aside from my Pre-K buddy, I did not realize what a crush from an Autistic male would entail. At first, I thought it was “Cute” and flattering: I’d let him hold my hand, I let him kiss my cheek, after all, I didn’t have a boyfriend; it got more severe the more I let it go on: pretty soon, he’d have a meltdown if I left the room just to go to the bathroom, yelling as loud as he could “JAMIE COME BACK!” and I was like “Dude, I got to go pee!”

I didn’t want to cut him off as a friend so I let him keep calling me, even when  he’d call more than once: and I had better answer or He’d call and call and call until I’d answer the phone, leaving a bunch of voicemails. I also couldn’t skip Camp or he’d have a meltdown, “JAMIE I can’t go to Camp without you,” or “JAMIE I HATE SICK! YOU GOTTA GO TO CAMP TOMORROW! I CANT GO BOWLING (Or SWIMMING) WITHOUT YOU!” Sometimes just to get him to not cry on the phone, I’d pacify him and say “FINE (NAME), I AM ALL BETTER” and go to Camp the next day, even if I felt like crud.  If his calling got on my nerves, and I didn’t want to blow up at him, sometimes I’d answer and try to disguise my voice (which didn’t work) and say “HELLO THIS IS PIZZA HUT. What size Pizza would you like?” He’d get so flustered and argue, “THIS Isn’t Pizza HUT, you’re Jamie Cormier!” I’d keep up the “pizza hut” charade until he’d eventually hang up, only to call the number again.

He was obsessed with Power Rangers and he always said he was the green ranger. I hated when my mom would bring him and I  to and from camp because this was literally the conversation:

HIM: Jamie, you are the pink ranger and I am the green ranger

ME: I want to be purple

HIM: NO! Girls are Pink!

ME: I prefer Purple.

HIM: NO! You are pink!

MOM: My favorite color is green, so I’ll be the green ranger

HIM: NOOO! Mrs. Cormier, I’m the green ranger and Jamie the pink ranger

(ON and on and on; the whole ride going to camp and the whole ride coming back.)

During swimming with the camp, we were play splashing each other, playing chase in the pool, when all of a sudden he grabbed me and dunked me under the water multiple times when I was caught off guard. Scary, right? I was terrified, and thankfully the counselors were around to stop him, and after the incident, he teary-eyed would point “but she got a bee in her hair, I was trying to get it out.” I have to laugh about it now, but back then, I was scared he was trying to drown me.

Another thing was when he first started his “crush,” I will admit that I used it to my advantage; didn’t want to get up to go get my snack bag? I sent him. Wanted fresh water from the fountain in a cup? I sent him. Wanted a “guinea pig” to test new snacks on? I

made him eat it first. There was a rolling chair at camp that my friends and I claimed at “snack time”. We sat in it while ate our snacks and if we wanted to move locations, we made him push us. I don’t know why, but we gave him the name “sofa” when he did stuff for us; kind of like a pet-slave or butler that we took in. Kids will be kids, even when you also have disabilities, still can “bully”; another dark memory from Jr. High years.

On the way to camp, we’d jam to mostly country music; he loved Rascal Flatts, and on the song “Me and My Gang,” for some reason he’d tickle me when the chorus would go “Me and My Gang.” (WHY DOES EVERYONE LOVE TICKLING ME?) I remember one year for the Camp talent show, he sang to “Life is a Highway,” I remember watching him and thinking “he never would’ve done that had he not met me and opened up,” I was so proud of how much progress he had made, even though sometimes his constant clinginess to me, drove me crazy.

There were things I loved about him: I could do whatever I wanted and he not hate me: Draw mustaches on his face, give him marker tattoos, sing at the top of my lungs and he didn’t care, he was really good at simple math (arithmetic) and drawing ninja turtles. For the Halloween and Christmas Dances, he always wanted me to dance with him at least 1x. The thing I didn’t like was how clingy he became since being friends (total 7 years) and how jealous he got when I was with other boys at camp, even when I became a counselor and had to interact with them as part of my “job.” When he saw me with other boys, no matter their age, he’d either tug me away as hard/rough as he could, chase them off yelling at them, charge at them physically; I had to send him to the “office” for that a lot! The other thing was, he was starting to try to kiss me on the lips; One day he tried, and it was a bad day already: I snapped and soon had him pinned to the fence, yelling “YOU DO THAT AGAIN and You will lose teeth or your lip will swell!” That Moment, I am not proud of.

I know he couldn’t help it, but my anger/temper is one of my biggest faults. I am working on it now because going into the field of special Ed, you don’t know what you could face, so I have to try to work on my anger/temper, and patience.

One moment I am proud of with this individual was when he started freshman year at my high school during my senior year. The first day, I saw him and his mom in the halls, and I promised I’d look out for him since I was a senior and would have some free time: I’d defend him in the hall (got sent to the principal so many times for fighting, kicking, and hitting anyone who would mock him and tease him). He would see me in the hall and he’d get all excited and do that “spaz out” flapping thing that some Autistics do and yell “JAMIE!” He usually saw me for lunchtime, so everyone was out of their classes at this time, and a lot of “normal Ed.” Students would imitate this action and laugh, or they’d mess with me “Oooh Jamie’s got a retard boyfriend!” You can ask my Graduating class, I could be a witch if you got on my bad side. Another thing I did to take up for him, was when I got him switched from his first teacher’s class because I had gone into her room to check on him during my free time, and she’d always have him in a time out for something that he couldn’t help; it was a manifestation of his disability, or she had the class doing kindergarten work and they were in high school; like color sheets or stuff like that. Yes, they had Autism, but try tapping into that brain, you might be surprised. I argued and fought with her so much about these issues and got sent to the principal again because I “was disrespecting my elders,” then the witch needs to do her job, eventually through my being sent to the office so much, my friend got switched to a new special needs class.

As much as his constant calling used to get on my nerves, I kind of miss it, but I also don’t want to reopen that door, because our future has changed, however. When I was first starting college he’d still call excessively no matter how much I’d say “(name) I’m in college, I need to study. As of this year, the calls have finally stopped. All I can do is pray that he is having a good life and enjoying it, whatever he is up to now. One thing I learned through “my autistic stalker friend,” is that there are boundaries and limits you need to set, it’s a social issue and as such, you need to make sure they understand you only see them “this way” and not “that way,” No matter how many times I just told him “No, just a friend,” he never understood: when this all started, I was only 12, I was too young and too friendly to know I had to set limits and boundaries, I never would’ve realized that things could escalate to what they did until I experienced it. As much as the situation would frustrate me because of the phone calls, the clinginess, etc., I still miss him as a friend, but also I don’t want to re-open communication because he’s finally understood I need boundaries and space, and I worry if I try to reinstall communication, that boundaries will be demolished and we’ll be back where we were with him, and I can’t risk a clingy jealous “stalker friend,” and a boyfriend: Life is about choosing and I will always be here if his mom ever needs to get in touch with me, I will always be here to help from afar and here to emotionally support them, but I just can’t risk destroying the improvement he’s made with realizing I need space and boundaries. I will always love him as a friend, and I love all the things I learned by meeting him and him being in my life; it’s just for the best if I don’t ever try to re-establish communication (or so I think. Maybe I am in the wrong, I don’t know.). Another thing I don’t like is that due to it being handled by Lafayette Consolidated Government, the camp cannot hire former campers (however they can volunteer) due to liability issues; who would know how to run the camp the way campers would enjoy it more, than a former camper? I just think it is unjust and unfair to former campers who have the mentality and responsibility, but just a physical disability, or a slight learning disability, but whatever.

Even now, when I am grown and in college, I continued to go to Camp We Can Do occasionally, but not as a camper anymore; now as a volunteer counselor because I can offer something other counselors can’t, Empathy; because I was once like them, new to the camp, scared and nervous, wanting to be accepted; I could share my experiences and give them advice. I could be like a role model they could come to, and I could provide a memorable experience for the future campers, so they will have fun and want to keep coming back like I did. However, that did not pan out because I didn’t mind not getting paid or the liability thing as much as what happened when I became a volunteer: I didn’t have to be there, I wanted to be there to help, but none of the other counselors (the ones that actually were hired and got paid) took me seriously: They never let me do anything to help or they picked minimal jobs (I guess out of fear of me getting hurt, I don’t know). I would go complain to the director and it was like she wasn’t listening to the problems I was having and it was like she would just tune me out when I tried to present an idea. Another problem I had was the kids; I understand it is odd having someone your height telling you to do stuff, they probably thought I was just trying to be a counselor, but on the first day, the director even presented me as “a volunteer” and to treat me as such; well no one did that: Not the campers, not the other staff, not even the director herself. As much as I miss my campers that held special spots in my heart, and I loved what the camp stood for, but it wasn’t worth the stress and the aches in my back from the stress: It was obvious I needed to move on from Camp We Can Do, and I have; although I still do keep in touch with a few of my special campers that have my heart.

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Beignet: Brushed, combed, and playtime!

Today, Beignet was itching and scratching alot so I decided to take her outside and give her a good brush/comb out. I also found one of those dog hair shaver things that she used to be scared of when she was a puppy; good news, she is no longer scared of it, and it got alot of her loose hair off. She’d probably look alot prettier if she had a bath, maybe David and I will bathe her this weekend. I think I will keep up with her daily grooming though, it seems to be helping her alot.

After an hour or two of grooming outside, we came back in and decided to play. She has so many toys that sometimes it is so hard for her to decide what toy she definitely wants and will start with one, then leave it alone after i throw it, to go find a different toy! HAHA.

Anyway, it was a pretty chill day, and I guess with the hysteria and panic surrounding CoronaVirus, I will have alot of time to just be at home and spend time with my wonderful furbaby.

BTW, she totally isn’t spoiled (rolls eyes)