Akila comes home tomorrow at noon. For five nights. Most of her home visits have been two nights. Twice it has been three nights. Two nights is good. Three nights gets a little rough. Praying five nights is not super rough.
Because of the extended home visit, we are in preparation mode tonight. Going through Akila's room, cleaning. Akila proofing the house. Had the kids clean up their rooms and get everything out of sight that they wouldn't want her messing with. Having to hide some things in the basement (summer clothes, hand me downs that are too big for her or Imani still, etc.). Trying to prevent/avoid as many power struggles as possible.
Had long conversation with the kids tonight. Talked about if we say it is bedtime, there is to be no arguing or junky comments, like "What? It's too early!", "Why do we have to go to bed now?", etc. And it usually isn't even early, just not late. They think that if there is not school the next day, that they should get to stay up late. And we do allow this many non-school nights, when Akila is not home. But schedules are important for her, and so they need to adjust when she is home. It is a small concession to make for having her home. Had to help them see that tonight.
Also talked with them about what to do when she is wanting them to play with her, and they are either done after having played for awhile with her, or they are not in the mood to play Barbies- which is about the only thing she wants to play. And you have to play on her terms when she wants you to. I told them that I expected them all to play with her on and off throughout her visit, but that it is OK to say no sometimes. This usually means that she is going to get upset. Quite upset. We talked about that when they have said no, and she is not taking no, to start walking to where ever dad or I am in the house, so we can intervene before she gets too upset. Sometimes we don't know this has been taking place until she is in the red zone.
We also made a hand signal that Michael or I are going to do if the kids are pushing something an just need to close their mouths. This happens a lot especially with Zeke. For example, at the dinner table, he will get mad about some piddley thing, like Akila has insisted on sitting in the chair that he thinks is his. Or we will be letting her choose the restaurant after church and he will get mad about this. In the past few months, we have given him the look and changed our tone of voice, and he is slow to catch on. Hezekiah is also. But we talked about the hand signal, and how they also shouldn't be obvious and start being pouty.
Talked about is it ok that she gets to choose the restaurant? Really, when she hasn't seen us or been home in over a month, are we going to get upset about that? I mean, I get it. She has ruled the family for 12 years, and they are just starting to breath. But there is still compassion that we are trying to teach them. And for the most part, they are totally amazing in how they deal with our unique family situation.
We are all struggling with the mixed emotions that come with the situation we are living in. We are all genuinely excited to see her tomorrow, but to be honest, we are all dreading it at the same time. I know this is due to our own sin, and lack of trust in God and His plan. We shouldn't expect issues. We shouldn't expect difficulties. But if we don't, it hurts even more when it is smacking us in the face multiple times a day. It is a protective factor that I have acquired.
Despite all of this, I have so many things to be thankful for. I am thankful for my family, for Michael and all 4 of my kids. I am thankful for God's provision in our lives, for the RTC that Akila is staying at currently. I am thankful for my new job that I am absolutely loving. I am thankful for Kathy, my neighbor/mom whom I would be lost without, I am thankful for the rest of my family who are understanding and accepting of my entire immediate family, I am thankful for my friends who have been there for me in the last year or two while things have been rough, I am thankful for my church and some exciting possibilities that are happening to support families with children with FASD, and I am thankful for my God and His steadfast love and grace that He shows me daily. Love and grace that I do not deserve. Love and grace that only He can give.