Triggered, and anything but easy.
Last week Wednesday was the last day of school for my Haitian Sensations.
Keenan's okay with the last day of school (note: he's probably not really okay with it, but with his inability to recognize feelings, or bury feelings, he gets through it- more on that and upcoming psych evals later.)
Miles is anything but okay.
The entire end of year wind-down and last day of school is a MASSIVE trigger for Miles.
Feelings of loss, abandonment, helplessness and being little wash over him.
His coping mechanisms: become a complete control freak and try to micro-manage every single thing around him. Which includes complete disobedience, complete disregard to safety, and lack of respect, which he knows will earn him blanket time, which he hates.
But he does it because he knows the outcome of this loop, negative feedback be damned.
This willingness to make bad choices and suffer negative consequences as a means of control has always really, really stumped me. I mean, I get it and I get why he does it.
Still, to understand something in theory and then see it play out, time and time again, in real life. Wow.
Especially when the child knows --and loves-- the outcome of good choices.
These behaviors begin popping up when the teacher starts abandoning the daily schedule at the end of the school year to make room for all the end of the year activities. Math unit wrap-ups, a multitude of field trips, special game days. All fun things, but for the trauma/RAD child, knowing that today is going to be different from yesterday and tomorrow is going to be different from today, and NONE of it resembles the past 4 months?!?
For the most part, Miles was thriving in first grade. The routine, expectations and consequence/reward systems were consistent. He tested the waters, found the outcomes to never change, and he took the rewards and soared with them.
That even began to "spill over" at home. We suddenly saw natural consequence that actually worked.
The natural consequences working is a HUGE thing for a trauma/RAD child. HUGE.
But, as the school year wind-down intensified and that last day finally arrived, my little man just couldn't take it any more.
And, as icing on the cake, a boy punched Miles, really hard, in his side during the last recess.
So now add feelings of anger, helplessness and victimization to the already growing list of out-of-whack feelings that were sparked by the last day of school.
Within 2 hours of coming home on the last day (which was a HALF day. Seriously, could the school make it any less like a normal day? ;) Miles had vandalized my car with three huge, deep, squiggly scratches.
He did not like having to be within Mom's eyesight after that, so by 8 am on the first day of summer, he managed to sneak the side garage door open, allowing Wanda to escape and run away.
Cue Four Distraught, Angry and Triggered-over-the-recent-death-of-Ernie Siblings, freaking out and tearing into Miles and his blatant disregard for Wanda's safety.
3 hours later, we found Wanda in a neighbor's overheated garage (the day was approaching 90.) Dehydrated and scared, Wanda came crawling out on her belly. Hattie, sobbing, carried her back to our house.
Cue Miles' shame, remorse and anger over this siblings' reactions.
Cue MAJOR defiance, disobedience, and lack of safety behaviors.
Cue Mama's 5-day migraine.
Cue the Mister's ill-timed 5 day National Sales meeting in Orlando.
Cue the therapist ill-timed, week-long vacation.
So, where are we, now that we are nearly a week into Summer break? Well, I've seen Miles able to pull through these big feeling, talk about them a bit, process them a bit and have fun for a while. Which lasts maybe 2 hours, before he shuts down and goes back into the negative behavior cycles.
Today I'm trying to switch it up. I am paying zero mind to all bad behaviors. Zero. I don't see them, don't address them, etc. It is probably going to trigger him further, but I am hoping that it pushes him out of his current I-do-this-and-I-know-Mom-will-do-that cycle.
I'm not sure what is better in the long run.
I scheduled a number of therapy/EMDR sessions for next week and the week after.
And I'm trying to figure out how-- in a family of 5 children, with crazy dance, soccer and baseball schedules-- I can place a bit more "routine" in it to help him feel safe and in control of his day.
We are already very consistent with morning wake-up routine and chore routine. But between 9 am and 8 pm, our activity schedules vary each and every day.
I am KICKING myself-- hard-- for not signing him up for summer school all summer. Last year summer school did not go well-- not at all-- because Miles has a hard time transitioning from new teacher to new teacher. That triggers his "I don't like young adult females to be in charge of me" trauma issues from an unstable orphanage life with young female caregivers. Which isn't a great thing to be triggered.
But, at least it would have been consistency and scheduling stability for 6 weeks.
Live and learn.
So this is summertime life with PTSD/RAD. It's not pretty. And it's a lot of work to make it fun.
But I just want him to have fun. And be a kid.
I feel so angry about all that happened to him in the 5 years before he lived here.
I feel so angry that those things stripped him of his ability to be a kid and enjoy life.
I feel angry with myself that I walk around, frustrated and thinking, "I just want to be able to enjoy you, son! I just want to be able to have fun and enjoy ALL my kids!"
But, it's the hand we were dealt, and so what choice but to push on and hope that we can salvage summer and enjoy a bit of peace and stability as a whole.