Friday, January 31, 2014

In January...

My first grader, Milagro, does a monthly writing assignment in which she has to write a story related to that month. Each prompt gives her options to sum up her month or to write in detail about a specific event or activity. When the new year rolled around I thought it would be great if I did the same thing. Lofty plans given that I haven't had much energy to write. I decided maybe I should use pictures instead. Given that my memory seems to be pretty scattered these days it might also help me remember where the heck the time went.

January was a bit of a hellish month as we are in the throws of two kids having "traumaversary" related issues. Corazon doesn't suffer as much as she used to but Tortuga most assuredly does. His issues start right around Halloween and we don't get much of a break until after Valentine's Day. There are some pockets of calm but too many bad things happened to him in these holiday months.

In January we turned a rainy series of days into indoor playground time...

In January we celebrated El Dia de los Reyes (aka Three Kings' Day.)

In January Pollito and I (with a little help from the rest of the crew) completed yet another puzzle.

In January, Tortuga gave Milagro a couple of guitar lessons. He loved it, she isn't sold on the idea because "he is not a good teacher" according to Milagro.

In January, a neighborhood cat disturbed a rabbit's nest and presented us with a newborn bunny from a nearby nest. Then went back to get the rest (yikes!)  The kids kept them warm until we were able to make a nest for them and get them to a bunny shelter.


In January, we celebrated Pollito's anniversary.

In January the littles extended their "red attracts children" game to "blue attracts children too" and group hugged C. (Usually they attack her with hugs whenever she wears red all the while chanting "red attracts children." I don't know where they got that but it's fun to watch.)

In January Milagro lost another tooth and yes, it was as traumatic as the first two. This is the note she left for the "Magic Mouse" (Mexican equivalent of the tooth fairy.)


In January, I taught the kids how to wash C.'s car.  (I am an awesome mom!)


In January, it "snowed." (New England friends please don't laugh. For that matter, everyone, north and east of us, please don't laugh.)


"Snow," of course, warranted hot cocoa with "the works."



Sunday, January 19, 2014

"I don't deserve it."

Rough patch with Tortuga these days.  This is his trauma time and to his credit he made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas with very few bumps.  It is clear that the root of his issues continues to be his self concept.  A few days before Christmas we were having lunch and he announce to his siblings that Christmas was "not going to be a good one" this year.  He often operates from two extremes (everything is going to be terrible or everything is going to be amazingly fantastic) and he is often disappointed. If things go well then they didn't go as well as expected/anticipated so he is upset and disappointed. If things go poorly then he was right and everything always goes badly so he is upset and disappointed.  This time I pushed the question and asked him why it wasn't going to be a good one. He said "because I don't deserve it."

 I DONT DESERVE IT.

That is how he feels and that is likely part of the reason he sabotages almost everything.  A few years ago he took guitar lessons and he developed into a very talented guitar player.  It was pretty much the only thing he has ever been really good at and out of the blue he just stopped playing. No amount of encouragement has gotten him to change him mind about this. For a long time after he stopped raging we found that by leaving his guitar on its stand near his bed we could prevent him from becoming destructive. The threat of our taking his guitar away if he got destructive was enough to keep him in check. Around the time he stopped playing he started "accidentally" bumping into his guitar or hitting it with shoes, books, notebooks or whatever else he was tossing around when he got mad.  We eventually had to take the guitar away to keep it safe but we keep it in the hall where he can see it in case he gets motivated to play.  It has been almost a year since he played guitar and he has no reason beyond "I don't feel like playing." I think there might be a little truth to that but I actually believe his own success scared him.

Fast forward to this interesting revelation about Christmas expectations.  I tried to probe it a little more but couldn't get anything else out of him.  I know that we have to work on his self esteem issues but this is an area where we are at a serious loss.  He quits everything he tries as soon as it gets too hard or feels like too much work.  He doesn't cultivate interests of his own but moves from one obsession to another based on what his younger siblings are into.   He then tries to take ownership of them, arguing with his siblings and declaring that they have been his passions forever. He even goes so far as arguing with his youngest brother as though everything in his life depends on convincing Pollito that Pollito never had that interest.  Tortuga also tends to quit if he isn't the "best" right away even if the thing he is trying is new to him.

I am always in awe of the rest of the kids because they are so patient with him. They want to include him even if he works hard to ruin things for them.  The other day we were speaking with the children (Tortuga wasn't there) about giving and taking and the nine year old asked quite innocently. "Why does Tortuga only take? He never gives."  Corazon added that she had noticed that recently and gave an example of the only times he offers to share or lend anything he always stipulates that he has to get something in return (and usually something that is clearly off limits or more highly valued that whatever he offers.)  "What is that about?" she asked.  How can we explain that Tortuga suffers from a serious sense of selfishness and entitlement while simultaneously suffering from the very low self concept?  Especially when I am not so sure I understand it myself.

He has no qualms about sharing his magazine with Corazon ("because it's really not a very good one") while at the same time offering it to her in exchange for her lending her prized horse collection.  When she turns him down he feels fully entitled to getting angry at her because "it's not fair" and me for not "making" her agree to his terms.  He moves through his life feeling like he is "owed" something. What the "something" is doesn't really matter and changes constantly. It doesn't seem to make much difference how much we give him because he just takes and takes and takes and takes. That hole inside of him just seems to be a bottomless pit that can never be filled. If that's the case where to we go from here?



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