It's been busy. Three of the kids did a week-long art camp. It was only three hours/day but enough to give everyone a change of pace. Sea Creatures for the little one and Tortuga and Corazon did a wheel-throwing class. Pollito got quality time with me. Overall it was a huge success. They had fun, I got a break, Pollito got more attention and C. and I managed to spend some mornings together catching up on down time. It was an experiment in that we put Corazon and Tortuga in the same class so they could police each other. Whatever they did right or wrong they did together since we didn't hear any tattling from either of them. All 3 kids made some wonderful pieces that are still prominently displayed in our living room.
The down-side was that a "touch" of normalcy for Tortuga was way too much. As the week progressed his behaviors spiraled downward. Nothing major until that weekend. At first it was simple things like "forgetting" routines and not following through on simple tasks. By the weekend we were at blowing up for no reason at all, talking/arguing back, mean faces and downright nastiness. When reminded to use his calming tools we got outright defiance. We have known for a while that being around people for too long (more than an hour or two at a time) is over-stimulating for him. Clearly being around people and without us increased his anxiety. Even with breaks away from people the experience proved to be a bit much. I also think he gets "confused" once he isn't more closely supervised or monitored and all sense of routine and self-regulation goes by the wayside. It's more complicated than this but this is part of the issue. After that week we got serious payback from the older two. They little one spent the better part of the week independently expanding on her works from camp and hours on end drawing sea creatures, asking to learn more about them and planning for her next art camp.
Because we always seem to do thing "big" around here we followed that week of camp with a trip to South Texas to visit with my mom. It is a 5 hour drive each way and we stay in her 1 bedroom apartment. We added my sister and niece to the car ride just to keep things "interesting." It was my mom's 79th birthday so we were planning a birthday party at my brother's house. The kids always enjoy seeing my mom and we hadn't seen her since Thanksgiving. It had definitely been more than a year since we had visited her there. Tortuga still hadn't recovered from his previous behaviors and the weekend didn't turn out to be as relaxing as we wanted. He was out of hand and out of sorts the whole time putting the rest of us on edge. We caught him "play fighting" with Pollito (which is NEVER allowed) despite the fact that he isn't allowed to have any physical contact with any of the kids except for goodnight hugs. After breaking that up and separating them, he snuck back to Pollito and threatened to kill him after telling him he wishes Pollito was dead and he wishes this on a regular basis. He has terrorized and threatened Pollito throughout his life so this verbal threat (even though couched as "just kidding") was completely unacceptable. We did our best to get through the weekend and work in some fun for the kids and most importantly time with my mom. I think she enjoyed her birthday and I know she was happy to have all of us there. We haven't done that since we were young. In fact, the last time I was with my mom on her birthday was almost 10 years ago!
One of the main reasons we moved down here was to see her more often and I don't think we have done as well in that area as I had hoped. The kids and our daily lives have certainly made this challenging. I was so angry at Tortuga for his behavior and needing to constantly deal with him during mom's celebration. I have had a hard time letting go of this anger which is unusual for me. When he tried to apologize I accepted the apology but told him I wasn't ready to forgive him yet. He tried to blame his behaviors on Pollito which didn't help his case. My tolerance level was low and I was still too mad. We travel to MA soon and at this moment I am dreading what this might mean for us traveling with him. I am feeling "held hostage" by him and while it isn't a new or different experience I am resenting it at the moment. This too shall pass...