Saturday, October 15, 2016

Spooky Solutions

Fiona and I had a long phone conversation today. She is coming for a visit home next Saturday but the holidays are starting to be first and foremost in her mind.  I expected that.  Holidays are very much a mixed blessing for her.  On the one hand, she looks forward to them almost as much as KC and Lissa.  On the other hand, the double whammy of her birthday and Christmas remains hard for her to manage.  Though she is turning 24 this year she has no money concept and is prone to asking for gifts that are far beyond the price point of what I can provide for her.  I can expect several conversations this year with varying degrees of success about this.  Last year for instance, she wanted a 250 ipod touch as one of her gifts.  It was hard to explain to her that Christmas for 5 kids means everyone gets something that they want but that there are limits to what I can spend and how many gifts I can supply.

This year, Fi has had more visits home to her first mom, Mom J.  She told me today that Mom J wants her there for Halloween so she can go out when they take her sister R who is about Lissa's age, out trick or treating.  Fiona was feeling conflicted because she always comes with us and was afraid KC and Lissa would be upset. She thought she had come up with a solution which involved all of us going out together.  Which would be fine except that we live 2 1/2 hours apart!  

I explained that we would miss her but that in big families we have to take turns being together.  We had been lucky enough to have her with us for a bunch of Halloween celebrations.  It was J and R's turn and no one would be angry or upset if that was what she wanted to do.  I explained the logistics of why it was not possible for us to trick or treat together.  Distance, the week night etc all play a role.  Also I know J does not drive and I reminded her that I do very little night driving because of my migraines.

I suggested that she and I brain storm with the rest of the family about a place where next summer we could have a big potluck picnic type gathering.  Ideally we can find some place 1/2 way between us all with lots of space to gather, eat and play.  She was very excited by that possiblility and it is something I would genuinely like to do.  I am hoping her cousin N might have some ideas of possible places and I will start googling looking for ideas too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wandering and Wondering

 Last night the younger kids and I went on a walk.  We spent a bit of time at a park on our block.  It was a place we spent hours and hours at when they were small, basically from 6 months old to about age 7 for Lissa.  KC was about 9 when we pretty much stopped going.  The park is geared to the younger set and suddenly, the magically dinosaur themed  equipment was no longer massive.

The dinosaur that KC spent hours trying to climb was now an easy hop and a jump.  There are still large swings that Lissa enjoyed last night.  While she was swinging KC and I walked around the park.  He is a lover of memories, my child most likely to treasure a card or a "remember when" moment.  And sure enough, he was recounting all the things we did over the years there. When certain pieces of equipment arrived, who we met there.  Who we were still friends with despite having moved on from "dino days."  Funny anecdotes, like the splashing contests we sometimes had in puddles there.  It all came flooding back to him and we both really enjoyed revelling in the re-telling.

He got a bit weepy over the fact that he doesn't enjoy the park in the same way any more.  Moving on is hard for anyone and I suspect a bit more so for KC who clings to the magic of childhood with tenacious grip.  I reminded him that the greatest gift the dino park gave him was the fact that it was so magical that at nearly 13 he could remember how special it was and that nothing would take that away.  He smiled and said that he wanted to make sure that when he has kids that they go to the dino park just like he did.  I said that maybe they would, but that if life took him some place else, he would remember the fun we made there and would find something like that to give to his kids.  It was sort of an "ah ha" moment for him to realize that you could draw from the beauty of an experience and not necessarily have to replicate it exactly.  A huge growth moment among falling leaves and beautiful memories.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Chinese food Saturday

Today Fiona was due to come home for a visit and I wondered how things would go.  Not only did she have a stressful experience last evening, but her group home is again in transition.  The really good house manager that has been there just shy of 2 years has moved on and there are other staffing changes as well.  Whenever there is a transition it is tremendously hard for her.  Additionally, it means there is less support for her to access as she processes any feelings or concerns that come up as she reconnects with Mom J.

So I was not surprised when Fi called me mid morning, angry and confrontational.  She had been asked to not play her music loudly in the common room where others were watching TV.  She felt she had every right to do that no matter what.  Staff later told me that she was playing her music so loud the music could be heard clearly even though she was wearing her headphones.  Eeks!

While I agree that she was appropriately asked to move to another location or to lower the volume of the music the new staffer also told Fiona that if she didn't comply that she would "lose her visit."  Fiona quite rightly said that the only time her visit is jeopardized is if she has a hold.  I won't take her off site if she is that unstable but anything else, i am okay with.

However that comment from the staff was the tiny straw that broke the back of the tenuous grip that she has held on her emotions since the loss of the former house manager.  Much ranting ensued in thephone conversation and somehow she wound up telling me she didn't want a visit anyway, she didn't want me to bring spending money, and I could just leave her alone.  I explained that I would be coming with her months spending money but that she of course had a choice of seeing me or not.

By the time I got there, a more experienced staff had helped her find some calm, and gotten her to a place where she could more rationally discuss the other staff's mistake, and her own role in the incident.  I suggested that instead of coming home, that she and I go out for lunch and she agreed.

We ate at a Chinese restaurant not far from the group home.  A cute little family run place.  I had a yummy spicy tofu, and she had her favorite crab rangoons and chicken wings.  We were able to talk about her visit yesterday, happy anecdotes of her time there, concerns that she had over the transport issue, plans for future visits there with Mom J and plans for visits with us.

The best thing is that it ended well. A year ago, maybe even 6 months ago, she wouldn't have gotten things together enough to even go to lunch. Huge growth for my daughter and I am so proud.