For about 36 hours after her return we kept things very low key. Beyond a banner drawn by Pollito to congratulate her (which we placed where he didn't have to look at it) we didn't talk about it around him. We focused on "chores" around the house and getting settled in for what was to be too much togetherness with C.'s family. His feelings were overwhelming him despite our efforts. I had talked to him and asked him what would help and had given him the option to not have to do anything (talk with her, congratulate her, etc.) except NOT say anything mean or rude. He could write it in his journal prompt book and think it but he could not say it to her. (He could share it with me, which he didn't want to do at the time.) I was once again reminded that under other circumstances we could celebrate her achievement as a family and go out and enjoy. Instead we planned a quiet celebration without him for sometime later in the week. I think a part of me hoped he could get it together enough to celebrate with us but I wasn't holding my breath or taking it away from her. C. had promised Corazon that we would take her to Chees*c*ke Fact*ry and she could order whatever she wanted.
Two days after her return the elements converged for a major fallout. All seemingly little things blew up to grand proportions in his frame of mind. I document them here so I keep better track of how things pile up for that kid (and many of our kids.) While his anger and jealousy was bubbling under the surface, the structure and distance seemed to be keeping things in check. Then C's parents decided to surprise us by being in our neighborhood (they were staying 2 hours away) and asking us to join them for ice cream at eveyone's all time favorite place in the middle of the afternoon. Recipe for disaster on many levels but there was no way they would understand if we didn't bring him and he would blow up if we left him out. I tried to prep him as best we could but it didn't work so well. Here's the short list:
- he was ignoring her and she wasn't reacting
- he was making faces at her and she wasn't taking the bait
- T was trying to be extra nice to him because she was aware he was struggling
- C. went to pick up an art tile she had made the week before and it turned out beautifully (he was disappointed in the project he had done and we had brought everyone's home the day they did it but hers needed additional work.)
- he was excited about seeing his grandparents (especially his grandfather)
- he had a big treat (ice cream) but we made him choose a sugar free one (Corazon did too) because sugar makes his crazy angry and aggressive
- I would not engage in an argument about the ice cream (despite several invitations) and he tried really hard to pick a fight
- his grandfather brought a friend (who gave him a kidney) and his 11 year old son to ice cream
- his grandfather was talking with both boys but Tortuga felt it was too much attention for the "obnoxious" other boy (who interestingly enough acts a lot like Tortuga in his loudness, impulsivity, inappropriate commentary and laughter)
- the boy "annoyed" him because he was so loud and obnoxious (had to really keep my mouth shut here)
- visit with grandparents was short, no gifts, and no "special" attention so he was disappointed
- he tried to make himself better by picking on Pollito and being loud and inappropriate so I removed Polite from his table without giving Tortuga any attention.
- when we got back home I gave him a choice of several activities before dinner and he tried to pick one that I didn't give him (which wasn't appropriate at the time) and I didn't engage in a fight about it
- At dinner, he tried to pick a fight with Corazon and was being overall nasty to her and she removed herself from the situation in a very mature way ("I'm done eating" which she wasn't and asked if she could finish later by herself.)
- He then moved on to amp Pollito up while they ate so I moved Pollito from the table
- Without an audience he proceeded to use his napkin as a toy and the tablecloth (which wasn't ours) as a napkin for the pasta and pasta sauce he was letting fall from his mouth as he ate.
I knew he was itching for a fight that I was trying to avoid. He kept escalating. I finally said he should take a break for 5 minutes then he could return to his food. He charged at me (I was in the doorway to another room) and put his face (mouthful of food) right in front of mine and yelled "why don't you shut the **** up!" C. got frustrated and told him to take his break on the front porch. He stormed down the stairs, damaged the storm door, and was gone. He was barefoot, it was getting dark and it was about to rain. He just took off down the street (a neighbor who knows him tried to talk to him and then let us know he was down the street. This is a busy Boston neighborhood and the boy took off and was gone and hiding outside for over 5 hours. We tried not to worry but I'd be lying if I didn't say I was. Once it was truly dark outside and he'd been gone for about 3 and a half hours we went outside and called him. We figured he was within earshot just hiding. He ignored us and continued to ignore us even after C. and his godmother both tried to look for him and call to him. He ignored me as I announced we needed to call the police for his safety. (He is terrified of police.) Finally C. went to sit on the porch and he stepped out of the shadows because he didn't see her. She sent him upstairs and he came up and straight to the room he was sleeping in. He was still angry and trying to fume but we could also tell he had scared himself. I went in and told him to change into pjs and I would be in shortly to talk. At that time, if he was inappropriate in any way, I would be calling the police or taking him to a hospital.
When I went to talk with him he cried and cried and cried. Everything he was feeling and thinking just spilled out. He felt like a loser, he was jealous, he hated Corazon, he wasn't good at anything, he was scared to death that he had ruined his whole life, he was afraid we wouldn't want him back, he wanted to be 5 again, he wished I was his birth mother, he didn't want to see his birth mother because he wanted to forget about her, he wanted to see her because it had been a long time since he had seen her, he doesn't miss her but he feels guilty, she reminds him what he could be like, he hates himself, he was mad at his grandfather for giving the other kid attention, he was mad Corazon was being nice to him, he wishes he could win at something, and the list went on and on. I reminded him we loved him and forgave him because we were family no matter what. I reminded him we would deal with the feelings after he got some rest, I reminded him there was restitution to do the next day and we would help him tackle some of those feelings. I held him and hugged him while he cried. He was so upset at himself mostly and I was proud of him for being able to own so many of those thoughts and feelings. None of them were new but he usually tries to deny them and this time he seemed to be owning them a little more than other times. They are so huge and so hard to tackle but at least he was willing to name them.