Has it really been a month? I set out to write every day but my attention gets diverted elsewhere and I lose my train or thought. So much has happened in the past month I don't even know where to begin. We are on the up side of the roller coaster but it has been full of ups and downs and I am dizzy. Perhaps the best way to catch myself up a bit is to recap on each of the children.
Milagro--my goodness that child is growing too fast! She has gotten to an age (4 3/4) where not much gets past her. She is noticing that we treat the children differently and she "feels" differently about each one. Corazon is her role model (for better or for worse) and she continues to call her "twin". The 7 year difference in ages between them doesn't seem to phase her. It's gotten to the point that we find ourselves referring to each of them as "twin" in public. It's fun to see heads turn in confusion when we do that. She also is quite aware that her brothers are big-time special needs kids. She is confused by Pollito's meaness towards her and she adores him. He is her favorite playmate and it is almost impossible to tell that they are exactly 3 years apart in age. Developmentally they are in exactly the same place. She loves Tortuga unconditionally but she doesn't understand much of what he does or says. She has started referring to him as an "adult" probably because of his height (he has shot up!), his age, and his inability to deal with her appropriately. She also doesn't feel "safe" around him. He isn't mean to her but he is volatile. She has announced that she is ready to learn to read. She also announced she has no plans to attend kindergarten because she wants to homeschool like the rest of the kids. Her days are consumed by writing us love notes, playing Scooby Doo and My Little Pony games, and riding her bike, scooter and skateboard. She very much is showing her "big kid" colors and I am mourning the "baby" that I only catch rare glimpses of these days.
Pollito--He is having a hard time and he is impossible to read. He doesn't have RAD but shows signs of ODD on top of his learning and developmental delays. He is also blossoming. He has come into his own around drawing (great use of color, clearer images, ability to convey his ideas and feelings more easily) and reading (he has about 150 sight words which for him is HUGE. He has been a reluctant reader and daily repetitions/variations of lessons don't often stick. His interest in books and stories has always been high but in actually reading this has been almost non-existent. Emotionally he is also "waking up" if that makes any sense. We get better glimpses into some of his thoughts and feelings than we have ever had. He is also cycling through one of the worst negative behaviors EVER. It's as if he is acting out on every mean thing he has ever witnessed or experienced and usually Milagro is his victim. We recognize the behaviors he has learned from Corazon and Tortuga. He has taken to being rude and oppositional at every turn, disrespectful and just plain mean. Usually he is our "sensitive" child and we cannot pinpoint anything specific that may be going on with him.
Corazon--Her behavior has been OUTRAGEOUS. Much of it can probably still be attributed to puberty and hormones but she is cycling through some old behaviors that I am just tired of. We have had hellish times with her being mean to both her younger siblings, engaging in some pretty unsafe behaviors.Her impulse control is pretty much non-existent and her attitude is ever-present. She is lying and sneaking more and we have even seen more food-stealing behaviors. I had a massive temper tantrum one night before a dance competition because she decided to, once again, sneak reading instead of doing what she needed to do to be ready to get up at 5 a.m. It was the last straw in a string of annoying behaviors and I pretty much rearranged her room (removing all reading material) in the middle of the night. Not my best moment BUT her stress level went down right after that. Go figure. We have seen some wonderful moments that have brought me to tears as well. Her dancing is taking on more passion and emotion and her sense of self seems to be improving slightly. She has also started to notice things that she has been oblivious to in the past and I think she is confused by the feelings it brings up. She used to "not notice" when others were mean or rude to her so these things never seemed to phase her. Now she is seeing great success in her dance company performances but is encounter catty and obnoxious (and racist) behaviors on the part of a couple of the white girls in her company. Corazon is actually recognizing the unfairness of it all and it matters to her. As awful as the experiences are, the fact that she is being affected by them at all is wonderful. Despite all of this she has been AMAZING this past 4 or 5 days. We have had all kinds of projects around the house and she has been more helpful than I can even begin to describe. She is tapping and rubbing every single day, several times a day. It helps her but she still doesn't want to believe that it helps her so she refuses to do it some days. So I tap for her over and over and over again until she says "if I do my tapping myself will you stop PLLEEEEAAASSSSE?"
Tortuga--Probably deserves his own post. He was amazing for the month leading up to his birthday (usually an awful time for him) in almost every way. We could tell he was working hard at controlling his temper, his impulses, his meanness, his impatience and his jealousy. He was seeing success and liking the feeling. Then almost all of a sudden it just stopped. His verbal attacks on Corazon and Pollito returned with a vengeance and he started making "joking" threats against them. They were initially disguised as normal kid stuff -"I'm gonna bop you on the head if you ..." or "Want me to smack you?" We don't ever allow him to do this with them because, especially Pollito, who is his bio sibling, has dealt with enough of this from him to last a lifetime. It escalated over the next few weeks and eventually Tortuga was back to terrorizing Pollito whenever he thought we weren't listening and sometimes even if he knew we were. They share a room that has two dividers between them so that they don't have to mess with each other when they are in there together (usually just at night) but it clearly wasn't enough. C. had a serious talk with Tortuga about this behavior and it didn't seem to register. We had to go back to our old safety plans and we ended up doing yet another room rearrangement! I spent the better part of a week moving kids around so that for now the three younger kids share a room and Tortuga moved into Corazon's room (which was smaller) so he is by himself again. While that keeps Pollito safer, it doesn't help Tortuga self monitor. Pollito's safety was more important at this point. So far this setup is working but it has been less than two weeks.
Somewhere in all of that we have managed to do some fun family stuff. I am very tired these days. Very tired. So tired that we have postponed our annual summer departure East. Normally we head out by the end of the first week in June but at this point we are thinking it won't be until July. We are also thinking we might just fly Tortuga out so that the rest of the crew gets a break on the drive to MA.