The Social Workers at CLIMB gave me information on Kids Alive. Kids Alive is held at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver. The program is in its 16th year. The amazing thing is that there are a number of “kids” who went through the program who are now volunteers. Kids Alive meets once a month on Saturday mornings from October to June. Every March they take the kids on an overnight trip to Snow Mountain Ranch. And like CLIMB, Kids Alive is a free program for kids who have a parent with cancer.
David and Michael started attending Kids Alive in January or February, 2010. Michael went on the overnight trip that March (David was supposed to go to a science competition, but ended up getting sick and not being able to do either). Michael had a great time at Snow Mountain, although at first he wasn’t going to go because David wasn’t going. Eventually, one of the volunteers (who was a former “kid”) talked him into it.
Kids Alive is structured, having the theme of a Hero’s Journey. Parents drop off the kids and pick them up after the 2 hour session. There is no parent group, but I think that is ok. Sometimes the parents talk informally and sometimes we all do our own things. Much of the time I sit and sift through and organize paperwork that I have put off.
Last year the boys fought with me, tooth and nail, about going. They didn’t want to go. They didn’t want to spend their Saturday morning there. And I think, to a certain extent, didn’t want to deal with Chris’ cancer. Since Chris had been stable for a while, it was easy for all of us to pretend that all was right and good in the world. But Chris’ cancer hasn’t gone away. And, while we can pretend sometimes, that it isn’t there, at some point, reality is going to come crashing down on us.
So, every month I battled with the boys about going. I tried to bribe them with breakfast or lunch (didn’t work). And I dreaded the fights, but I made them go. Every time. They were threatened with “consequences” if they didn’t get ready and into the car (usually losing electronics for a significant amount of time). And we were all miserable.
However, the boys were usually glad that they had gone. That is, until the next month when the fighting began again.
Kids Alive doesn’t meet over the summer. They have found that people have too much going on and don’t make it to the meetings. So July to September there is no Kids Alive. October is when Kids Alive begins for the year.
A few days before Kids Alive I told the boys that it started on Saturday. They weren’t together when I told them. David said, “Ok.” and that was it. No arguing. Michael also said, “Ok.” and didn’t complain. Friday night I reminded them that we needed to get up early on Saturday and that we would be leaving at 8:15 for Kids Alive. Both boys said, “Ok.” and that was it. I asked them to set their alarms and held my breath, waiting for the fighting to begin.
The boys went to bed a bit later than on a school night, but not as late as they usually do on the weekends. They both got up in the morning and showered without complaint. They got themselves ready to go, got something to eat, and got into the car. I waited for them to start complaining. They didn’t. We decided that since David needed new shoes, and Payless was having a sale, we would go after Kids Alive and then grab something to eat.
We got to Porter Adventist Hospital a bit early (it was snowing that morning) and the boys went off to make their name tags. They hadn’t said one word about not going. I was perplexed.
When we were walking to the car afterwards, I asked the boys how it was. They told me fine and that they had a “confidentiality agreement” which meant that they couldn’t talk about the things that other kids spoke about. This is a regular part of Kids Alive. Since it is run by professionals, I’m not concerned. I also know that if one of the boys was having serious issues, they would let me know. Then we got into the car. Again, I waited for them to start complaining.
They were messing with the music in the car and both seemed to be in good moods. Before I pulled out of the parking lot, I had to know. So I asked. Were they tired of fighting with me about Kids Alive? Did they change their minds about it? What was the deal?
David told me that he was starting to understand why I felt it was important. He said that beyond it being a bit too religious for him (it isn’t a religious group, but obviously many kids who are dealing with a parent who has cancer, turn to religion), it wasn’t bad.
Michael said only that he was starting to like it. I think that Michael, being almost 11, has finally made it into the older kid group and he is happy with that.
I guess sometimes Mom does know best.