It was Spring break and birthday weekend for both Middle-One and Bright-Eyes.
We picked him up Friday morning at 9:30 on the dot. He knew we were coming and headed directly to the therapy appointment but still got in the van and announced that he was hungry because they (foster family) hadn't given him breakfast and could we get him something to eat.
"No, I'm sorry you're hungry but it will have to wait until after our appointment"
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth but no one died.
He also entertained us with tales of dinner at a restaurant and a trip to a family fun center, with his foster fam, for his birthday. The other boys said not a word.
We went to the therapy appointment (another blog entry recounts that event) and then picked up two birthday cakes and headed home.
Friday we celebrated Middle-One's birthday. We had his dinner choice of BBQ ribs in the crockpot. I made his requested mashed potatoes and black-eyed peas. After dinner we had his cake and ice cream and he opened his gifts.
Saturday Middle-One got to be the "birthday-boy" for the day. This means that he did not have to do any chores and did get to be first to play video games. That evening we celebrated Bright-Eye's birthday. He chose meatballs and gravy, mac&cheese, green beans and salad for his dinner. Their dinner choices always confuse me... they can choose ANYTHING after all. After dinner we did Bright-Eyes cake, ice cream and gifts.
Having their birthdays back to back offers us a rare opportunity to compare their behavior in the same circumstances. It is both always a confirmation of Middle-One's mistrust and of Bright-Eyes attachment.
During Saturday the boys played outside while Mr. T and I watched from the kitchen. At one point, Middle-One came inside looking sad. We asked him what was going on and he asked if he could talk to us. He proceeded to explain to us that Bright-Eyes was saying things that hurt his feelings and he wanted him to stop. We asked him what his brother was saying and he explained that he was talking about the past. It turned out that Middle-One didn't like it being brought up that he had been aggressive and that Bright-Eyes was scared of him. We did our best to explain that this is Bright-Eyes past too and since it is the truth and we will be talking about it a lot, it is ok to discuss it. He went on to tell us that Bright-Eyes also mentioned that the reason Middle-One did the things he did was because his brithmom did drugs and alcohol before he was born. Middle-One seemed very offended at this statement about his birthmom. Both Mr. T and I said
"but it's true"
We explained that of course it is sad but that a mom who does drugs and drinks with a baby inside, hurts the baby. That *is* one of the reasons that he has a hard time with his behavior. We went on to reassure him that it was not ok for Bright-Eyes to be mean, but it was all true and nothing we should be ashamed of... after all they were not Middle-One's choice. They were the choice of his birthmom.
He began to cry and Mr. T and I both had a rare chance to offer comfort in sadness.
Sunday Bright-Eyes got to be the "birthday-boy" with no chores and first choice on games. Predictably Middle-One began to have trouble. The concept of someone else being preferred if a difficult one for him to grasp
We have been working on and encouraging Middle-One to learn to find things to do, on his own (without watching over every one's shoulder). So when he would not leave anyone alone and the other boys were desperately seeking us to entertain Middle-One, we decided to create some "quiet-time" lists.
I told Ebear ahead of time and asked for his help in setting an example of enthusiasm. I should have done the same with Bright-Eyes because he really struggled at first with the concept... but they both did get on board and sat down to make a list of at least 10 things that they can do alone and with no supervision. Middle-One was not as anxious to obey. He argued, whined, refused and debated... for about 20 minutes, then he sat down to struggle through the task. He got four things... then complained a while. Added 3 more for a total of 7 and asked if that was enough...
"No, we said 10"
I got the coveted glare of death ;o)
But, he eventually had 10... he did repeat one once but we'll let that go. ;o)
We hung the lists on the bulletin board in the kitchen and exuded praise and excitement about getting to use them.
Sunday afternoon while doing laundry in preparation of taking Middle back to his foster home, his foster care provider (hence forth known as FCP... because I have petty and immature issues sharing the role of parent) called. She asked if we could bring Middle-One back right now. I explained that we were not ready to go at the moment but asked what was going on and why she needed us to do that. She explained that she had to leave for work in 30 minutes............... ummmmmmm........ First of all, we live an hour away. This is known. I reminded her that we live too far away to be able to get there that quickly, even if we were ready to walk out the door right now... which we weren't.
"Oh" she said.
She then explained that the county didn't have school scheduled for the next day so we could keep him with us for another night. I swallowed hard and smiled and said
"Of course, I guess that's what we will do"
And that is how Middle-One got to stay and extra day. We did present this to the other boys on a positive and upbeat note. It didn't work.
Monday was not good.
We did not have Middle-One's meds and we did not have anything to keep him occupied. We had school and chores to do because it was no longer the weekend. Middle did not have school work. He did his chores but then was lost. I suggested that he use his "quiet-time" list (created the day before) he refused. He got increasingly disruptive and hyper throughout the day.
At about 3:00 Bright-Eyes lost it. Clenching his fists and doubling up crying and sobbing he wailed
"Why is he here, I want him to leave"
Too much brotherly togetherness me thinks.
I expressed to the FCP and SW later that if this should happen again we need to have some advance notice. But I am glad this happened. It revealed to us just how much we need to work on before Middle can come back home.