I haven’t blogged in awhile, I haven’t blogged much this summer. As I wrote earlier, I have kind of been on vacation this summer, in many ways. I have been riding bike, going for runs and hanging out with the 3 kids. Akila has been coming home once a month for a home visit, they have gone well. It is much easier than driving 4 hours to visit her and being stuck we have in a small town with little to do. Plus, the RTC drives her to the cities and back, so it saves us money.
When she has been home, the visits have gone smoothly. It is obvious that we are still dealing with the same behaviors, even though we have not had any major explosions. The first two visits were two nights, and the 2nd night, she was starting to get sassy and mad about little things. When Imani wouldn’t play with her, she stomped on my feet and pushed me as she raged about what a horrible mother I am. But all the rest of the time, she was lovely. Her August visit, she was here for 3 nights, but it was her birthday weekend so she was very happy with all the attention.
Her behaviors just in the past few weeks have started to accelerate at the RTC. She punched a staff in the stomach and has been starting to show a lot more attitude. It took her 5 months to get to this point, and she is still a mellow version. At first, I was not excited about the RTC option. But I have learned something through this experience. The RTC offers the exact level of structure she needs. More than a group home can offer, and certainly more than our home can offer. She has been thriving there. I know I wrote about this in July, but I just have to say it again. I also know that many people who have children with with FASD or other issues, have not had good experiences with RTC’s. For some reason, it has been great for Akila. I am so grateful for this.
We have been doing things this summer which have been harder to do or impossible when Akila is home. One thing we did, for the first time, was go on a family vacation/road trip. Travelling with Akila has always been hard. She is difficult in the car, and tries to dominate and dictate activities. We always have to work around her, and it is hard on the other 3 kids. I remember several years ago, on spring break we were going to the Mall of America to go to Nickelodeon Universe. Now, you have to know, that we only live 25 minutes from the MOA. As we were driving there, Akila got mad at Zeke over something piddle, and she smacked him. She smacked him hard enough that he got a mammoth bloody nose and I had to pull off of the highway and clean up blood, and it took forever for it to stop. He was really freaked out (I think he was 5 or so). The kids didn’t even want to go anymore, as Hezekiah and Imani were also freaked out. We did go, and it went fine.
But when we go to Willmar for the 4th of July at our friends, it is always tense and the other 3 kids don’t really get to do what they really want to do because of Akila’s behaviors. So, this summer, we decided after much prayer and deliberation, that we would take a road trip without Akila. That might sound like an easy decision, or it may sound like a hard one. It was both. It was a no brainer, yet, it was hard. Just like her current placement, it feels right and wrong all at the same time.
So, we went to Montana for 5 days and stopped in South Dakota in the Black Hills for a night on the way. It was a totally awesome trip, I am writing as we drive home through North Dakota. I will do another post with pictures from the trip. I was not sure what Akila’s response would be when I told her, but it was a good one.
When she was at the crisis home last fall, she cried and begged to come home the entire 3 months. On the phone, when she heard about something we were doing, she would get mad and whine about it or cry. We stopped telling her what we were doing. I was using the same approach when she first went to the RTC. Then I tried telling her about some things we were doing, and she was genuinely happy for us. Even when I told her in July that we were in Willmar for our annual lake stay, she was happy. This is another sign to me of how well she is doing at the RTC, and what an appropriate placement it is for her.
But I wasn’t sure if this trip would be something that would make her mad or sad. I told her, and she was truly happy. I have called her almost every night, and she has not whined or cried about it. She did one night say, “Next time you go on a trip, can I come with?” That stung right through the heart, as there have been a million times on this trip that I have wished she were with as I knew she would like something we were doing. She has spoken with the kids on the phone, listened to what they did each day, and had really appropriate responses to them.
I am very grateful for this opportunity to travel with the three kids and Michael. I am sad that Akila was not with us, but I am also aware that it needed to be this way.