As mentioned in the Minnie post, the school year (1st and 3rd) grade started out great. Mickey was at the temporary placement he had moved to the previous spring, and he loved it. In total his school houses less than 50 students. For Mickey that means it is quiet and less chaotic. His class size is small and his teacher figured him out quickly. She can identify when he is frustrated, when he is angry, when he is sad or just off. Maybe more importantly, she can also tell when he is manipulating her. He can be a master manipulator if given the opportunity. I am content for now to leave him at this placement, rather than going back to the school that both Mickey and I hated. August and September were quiet, right up until the end when I lost my Grandmother.
In so many ways I have been blessed in the family department. I have a large loving, boisterous, somewhat obnoxiously loving family. They all live 6.5 hours away, with the exception of my parents and my brother. However, even having never lived closer than 6.5 hours away, I was close with most of my cousins, my aunts and uncles and my grandparents. I was even lucky enough to have my great grandmother until I was 21 years old. But, when we had been to visit that summer, I knew it was the last time I would see my grandmother alive. Her health had been in decline for the last couple of years and while my heart broke, even she would have said “it is time”. I prepped the kids as September rolled around and her health began to decline rapidly.
Mickey and Minnie had been to two funerals earlier in the year, but this was the first with an open casket and a wake and the first of someone they loved. As we headed into a known troubled time for Mickey, my parents questioned whether attending would trigger the behaviors and if we should attend. I decided that either way the death was going to hit him and we should go. He wouldn’t go near the casket, but he handled it well. He asked for the script of what he should say (he has learned that often what is in his head isn’t appropriate – especially when other people might be upset, so he likes to know what is appropriate). He comforted his Grandpa and his Great-Grandpa and handled himself very well for the situation. He cried, I cried, Minnie cried and maybe most startling for both kids was seeing their Grandpa cry. Minnie found the open casket oddly interesting but was confused by why great grandma wasn’t as soft as she usually was and admired her beautiful dress and jewelry.
We came back from the funeral and Mickey did ok, right up until October started.
We had planned a family trip over Columbus day weekend, when we had a short break from school. We were heading to Orlando, but not to Disney (shocking, I know). We were planning Sea World and Busch Gardens, with a pit stop at Downtown Disney to hang out with our friends who had just moved down. But, right after the birthday madness that is late September in our family, Mickey started acting out. Nowhere near what we saw the previous year, but enough that I couldn’t let it slide.
As the trip approached, Mickey and I had a talk and I told him that we wouldn’t be going if he continued to make the choices he was making. Well, turns out that is what he wanted (#$!@@#). See, Orlando is for Disney, not anything else. He had no desire to go to anyplace new. Just Disney, so he planned to sabotage the trip. Unfortunately, his plan backfired. I left him home with my brother instead of cancelling. This would be the first extended one on one time for Minnie and I and also the first time I had ever been away from Mickey. But, it was necessary and let me assure you, many tears were shed by both Mickey and I (Minnie was fine with it :-))
So, Minnie and I headed to Orlando without Mickey. Something was missing and we both felt Mickey’s absence almost immediately. First of all, the car was way too quiet. But, onward we trudged. We had a blast. We fed dolphins, hung out with friends, did a monorail crawl around Disney World, rode every single ride she was tall enough to ride at Busch Gardens and she got to hold a baby kangaroos hand. Minnie was beside herself. We talked to Mickey twice a day and Minnie cried a couple of times because she missed him and wanted to share something she had just done or seen with him. So, we had fun, but there was definitely something missing without Mickey’s non stop chatter and his fascinating perspective on the world. I was hopeful that him missing the trip would get behavior back on track and we weren’t heading back to the place we were last year.
Our plan was successful, Mickey missing the trip was effective in getting back on track. As we headed into the holiday season, we were seeing our best behavior in quite some time…