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Category Archives: family visits

Thankful: The Calm after the Storm

I finally got to go home to Georgia for Thanksgiving after missing the last three years of the absolute best cooking in the universe. And I could not have asked for a better time for Bailey. No anxiety, no meltdowns, and even very little stimming. She even managed to do an ornament craft with no flipping out over mistakes. I advised my sister to “monitor the situation closely” because all hell usually breaks out if a dab of glitter lands on the wrong spot. And it’s not just her throwing her own craft supplies across the room when things go wrong, but anyone else within reach would have fallen victim to the destruction as well. But it all went swimmingly and she even made more than one ornament.

The only little wrinkle I even remember was her getting very irritated at the seatbelt in my sister’s car and squirming around like worm in the blistering sun trying to escape it. Then when she was reciting and talking to herself my nephew’s friend asked why she’s crazy. That didn’t go over well with her so she snapped at him and growled and grimaced like she was about to attack. She managed to keep herself under control though.

She still had a little difficulty with boundaries (walking in on relatives getting dressed and showering, and minding what she said to others) but hey, it was small potatoes compared to the usual hiccups. Volume control is always an issue so I don’t even consider it when measuring success anymore… I’ve just come to accept it. All in all it was an amazingly peaceful trip. Even during the 12+ hour car ride (one way) she was an angel. For someone who has perma-ants-in-the-pants to sit still for that long with NO complaints is a miracle. Heck, for a typical child that is amazing. The key is to let her take what she wants to take, even the most ridiculous thing, and keep it within arms reach. If she has the things she loves close by, she is good to go.

This amazingly peaceful trip was in stark contrast to few evenings before. She was an absolute bundle of anxiety. First while I was making dinner she came downstairs in hysterics. When I finally made out what she was saying I realized she was upset over my eye appointment the week before where the tech put an anesthetic drop on my eyes for a test. Bailey was an utter mess, saying she couldn’t get that out of her mind no matter what she tried. I told her it didn’t hurt me and now my eyes are all better in hopes that would make her feel better. Then she did a complete 180 on me and yelled that she was worried about her teeth (we are in the process of fixing a cross bite with an expander). Apparently schoolmates commented on her gap and large front teeth. After talking to her about how God made her and he doesn’t make mistakes and how He makes everyone look different, the same old stuff that I always say when she gets down on feeling/looking different, she did another complete 180 and proclaimed through her tears that I need to take her to the doctor because her neck always itches and she has to constantly keep her hand on it. I just sat there and held her. I didn’t know what else to say or do. Her mind was obviously working faster at coming up with problems than mine was coming up with solutions.

Then all of the sudden she was calm and sat down to eat her dinner.

After dinner she was like a different child, but on the wacky happy portion of the emotional rollercoaster. She was verbally stimming like crazy, repeating “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” over and over. And over. And over. Laughing hysterically and rolling all over the place. I was so frazzled by the time I got to bed that I kept seeing Goldie Hawn in Overboard saying “buh buh buh buh buh buh buh buh buh”. I was sure Easton would find me the next day in a corner just like that.

Maybe she was getting it all out of her system before our trip. Looking back, as tough as that night was I’m thankful. Because if it truly was the backwards storm before the calm it made for a wonderful Thanksgiving. Not just thankful that I could enjoy my family without meltdowns and without having to constantly “monitor situations”, but that she also enjoyed being with the people she loves without the anxiety she feels on a daily basis. She felt calm enough to not constantly pace and flap her hands and hum. She didn’t feel the need to recite movies all day. She was just happy. A happy kid having fun with her family. Simple as that.

Visitors

After a wonderful weeklong visit with my mom, sister and nephews doing the tourist thing in DC, and another week of just trying to get back in the swing of normal life, I’m back! I’ve really missed writing here and have found that it truly is a form of therapy.

I can’t believe how fast the week with my family flew by. But we had a great time. The only real issues I had with Bailey was what I call her “sass mouth”. Sometimes she fast-forwards through the years and becomes a 15-year-old with nothing but disagreeable attitude. And it was all focused on me. Her “nina” (grandmother) became her new favorite and I was chopped liver. I didn’t mind that one bit of course. She gets so little time with our family and she absolutely loves them all so much. What flustered me was that I knew their time here would be painfully short and fly by at warp speed so I was trying to enjoy every second. I didn’t want so much of that time spent in a battle of the wills with Bailey. I couldn’t use the usual consequence of losing computer time because that was the last thing on her mind with her family here. Sending her to her room wasn’t an option because most of the time we were either on our way out the door to sight-see or we were already out and about. Although I threatened it once or twice, spanking isn’t really effective with her.

The frustration of her disrespectful words was more than I could take at one point and, after a morning of constant arguing and backsass, I told her to “shut her mouth”. In front of everyone. I knew the instant the words were coming out I would regret it. I heard myself in slow motion like the kid in The Christmas Story. Another instance when I really could have used that time machine I’m waiting for someone to invent. I make a point to never say things like “shut up” to her. I think it’s disrespectful and it certainly doesn’t teach her the proper way to speak to others. But I let myself get to the boiling point and it was definitely not my proudest moment.

I realized that all the excitement was really to blame for her being out of sorts. All the rushing from this thing to the next put a lot of pressure on her. She has to have downtime and got very little of that so eventually I realized I just need to take a breath and pull her aside whenever she got to be too much of a pickle. That really helped both our stress levels.

Bailey’s quirks were a little fewer during their visit. I jokingly attributed that to us keeping the kids moving so much that she probably didn’t have time to display so many. On several occasions she leaned in a little too close to the oncoming metro to feel the rush of the wind (sensory) and my panicked heart leaped from my chest onto the train tracks each and every time.  She orbited, was a little loud, kept her nina awake at night by humming the Angry Birds tune, and wandered quite a bit, which is one of the common problems I have with her out in public. But all in all I noticed she wasn’t as quirky as she normally is. Her cousins were great at helping me keep an eye on her. The oldest, French Fry (I call him that because the boy is absolutely obsessed with french fries. He even gave up the opportunity for dessert at Friendly’s for more french fries) was constantly making up games to keep her near. Simple games like ‘whoever stays closest to the group is the winner’ that as a mother I’m ashamed that I didn’t think of…but I’m sure it was only cool to her because he came up with it. Cowboy, the second oldest cousin and a horse lover (he wore cowboy boots every day, even through all the walking we did, which was a ridiculous amount of walking), was really good at…you guessed it…coraling her back to the group like a little stray calf. She drove them both crazy, playing with French Fry’s hair and copying every single thing Cowboy did, but I don’t think they minded too much. The youngest cousin, Optimus Prime (for his pure love of all things Transformers) was an absolute and complete angel. I want so badly to clone that little boy. He is only a year younger than Bailey and was a great playmate for her during the short time we were at home. They played with his transformers and her little dolls and stuffed animals “separately together” and they were both happy as clams.

And as quickly as we all rushed to each other with hugs on their first night here, they were driving away to go home. The week was a blur with just flashes of them in my head and pictures to prove that they were actually here. Bailey cried the first few nights after they left. It’s funny how I was worried when we first moved away that she would eventually forget the closeness she feels to them. But in the weeks leading up to their visit I got the constant “when-is-my-family-going-to-be-here” (every half-hour on the day of their arrival). When they first arrived and we were walking in the parking lot to their hotel she was literally about to explode with excitement. And then there were the tears that came after they left. All of it shows me how much she loves them and how close she feels to all of them.

It makes me extremely happy and extremely sad at the same time. So happy that she hasn’t lost that bond with them but so sad that she’s missing out on so much time with them. I try to remind myself that she could have very easily fallen through the cracks back home and her diagnosis may have come much later or maybe not at all. She would’ve been seen only as a strange, defiant, spoiled child. I try to remember in each situation to let go and place myself and my family in God’s hands. I truly believe He puts us where He wants us to be, if we trust Him. But it doesn’t make it any easier to be so far from my people. The people who are my umbrella on rainy days, my shoulder to cry on, my stone and slingshot ready to smack Goliath right between the eyes. Being so far away from them I just get wet, cry alone and get pushed around by the giant, all the while trying to keep him from spotting my baby. It would be so much easier if I could be back home with my army. I have to constantly remind myself of Hebrews 13:5 (Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you) and Romans 8:28 (We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose). Holding onto those truths is what gets me through.

I also have Thanksgiving to look forward to…

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