Our vacation had gone really well until I jinxed it by saying so. And then I pushed things. On Sunday C. left to go back to Texas on business. On Monday, I left 3 kids with a sitter and took the other one with me to visit with my best friend from college. I had five hours of mostly uninterrupted time with my friend while Corazon had the swimming pool all too herself and talked my ear off for the hour-long drive each way. Heavenly. Then there was "pay back" time. Corazon had to pay me back for getting to have too much fun. Tortuga and Pollito had to pay me back for leaving them with a sitter. They were nightmarish from the moment I got home. Did I learn my lesson? Of course, not.
On Tuesday we went to the social services offices to visit their old social worker, her supervisor and one of Tortuga's former foster parents (who now works at the same office.) They were crazy. I can honestly say they have never been as poorly behaved in public as they were for the 45-50 minutes we were there. I couldn't even finish my meeting with the supervisor regarding services for Tortuga, the whereabouts of his older brother whose adoptive parents have relinquished back into foster care, our scheduled visit with Corazon's brother in RTC and a whole slew of other things. So I had to reschedule the meeting for another time and I was so annoyed with the kids that I cancelled all the fun stuff we were supposed to do after the visit. While I realized that being back in that office where they went for visits with birth families and waits for the next set of foster parents might bring up "stuff" for them, I underestimated the impact because they have never responded like that before. (That's an understatement!) The older kids were so bad that even good-natured Milagro was a basket-case. She whined, cried and clung to me as though I was going to leave her there. She never behaves that way. We headed home and dealt with meanness, rudeness, yelling, door slamming, stomping, (and you should have seen the kids' behaviors! Just kidding...)
Then on Wednesday I left 3 of them with a babysitter and Tortuga and I went driving all around town (literally) in Boston traffic looking and taking pictures at places he lived and went to school in while he was in foster care. He had requested this last summer and we only managed to get to a few of these but this time I had promised. He seemed excited and had only pleasant memories of the places he remembered and thanked me profusely for taking him around. After two hours the sitter called to say Milagro was having a hard time so we rushed through the rest of our stops to get back home. We were supposed to head out to see my college friend and her kids (from Monday's trip) and the kids assumed that meant they were going swimming since Corazon had gone swimming. We started out heading in that direction, heard severe weather warnings for the area, turned back, got caught in traffic, and by the time we got back the kids were starving. It was my fault since I forgot to feed them lunch. We stopped at their favorite pizza and sub shops. I was trying to make up for starving them and gave them free reign to choose their food and let them pick a soda. (Can someone say "dumb move"?) It was all too much for them. Their behavior left much to be desired and Corazon put me over the top by shaking her soda bottle and spraying it all over the other kids' food. I marched everyone home and relegated them to their quiet spots while I tried to deal with everyone's individual dramas. They two older ones were dysregulated and pretty ticked off with me and had no qualms let me know it with their behaviors (that's how I found out they were mad about not going swimming.)
I guess I now have a perfect formula for traumatizing my kids.
1. Have one parent leave town.
2. Leave them with babysitters.
3. Take them to places that raise their anxiety.
4. Let them have too much fun.
5. Have them miss out on fun I never thought they were expecting.
6. Let the child who has not experienced trauma spend time in strange places with 3 dysregulated kids who are freaking out so she can join in the "fun."
Honestly it has been horrible but some good things are and will come out of this. I will try to write about that part soon. Can you imagine how relieved I was that I had not told Corazon ahead of time that on Monday we were supposed to do a visit with her birth family since they did not show?