Tortuga turned 14 yesterday. I cannot believe how much he has grown this past year. He is so tall and looks so much older. It is harder to remember that he is still young in many other ways. In the past year he has gained a little more self-confidence and is more attuned to his own real needs (not his wants) which is a big deal for him. He understands that he get overstimulated easily and that quiet retreat away from others is a good way to regulate himself without letting things get out of control. He has learned how to be a "big" brother to Milagro and more often than not he is able to recognize that she really is younger than him. He has discovered a few more interests which I think have boosted his self esteem. I find that I can have conversations with him that include giving him positive and negative feedback without it sending him into a manic frenzy or a rage. These may not seem like big things but for us they are. He is most definitely allowing his caring and kind sides show more often. We have always known how "good" a person he is and how scared he is to let his guard down which makes him defensive and on guard all the time. That defensiveness is subsiding so we are seeing more of his true self shine through which makes him a happier kid and when he is happier so are the rest of the kids.
This year I would not let him pick a "theme" for his birthday celebration because he is always unhappy when he does. He chooses something ahead of time and by the time his birthday arrives he has changed his mind so many times that no matter what we do it is a disappointment. Last year we asked him to choose an activity or place he wanted to go to celebrate. We went to an indoor video games, miniature golf, rock-climbing place and had a great time. Since then he had been "planning" an outing for this year and probably changed his mind 400 times (I am not exaggerating.) I finally just said he had lots of great ideas but this year we would pick. At first he was mad and then he was resigned to the fact that it would be something he didn't like. We just agreed with him and moved on.
Yesterday morning we headed out to brunch and then came home for an all-day movie marathon. This might not be a big deal for other kids but for Tortuga this is MAJOR. He would love nothing more than to watch TV and movies all day but we have seen that lead to some pretty destructive behaviors for him so we still monitor and limit. Anyway we set up two "screening" rooms and played little kid movies in one and big kid movies in the other. The children chose whatever screen they wanted to watch and we ended up with an "Air Buddies" marathon in one room and a Star Wars marathon plus "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"in the other. It worked out great and we even provided movie fare throughout the experience. It was low-key and relaxed and I think a great success.
Tortuga declared it his best birthday EVER.