thank you visited the TLP yesterday and was decidedly subdued last night and tonight. He's not being terribly expressive about what he thought, other than he thought there's too much freedom and he wants to look at other places. Looking at other places isn't much of an option. There simply aren't many TLPs contracted with- DHS (which is funding his placement) - an issue I will address in my annual request for funding which is due next month. Of the two others that his case manager is aware of, one has not returned any of my multiple calls, which means they are not people I'm going to be able to work with so they're out. The other is very small (bed availability issues) and the impression I got from the intake person is that when the kids hit 18 and decide they're done, they're done. I need thank you in a placement where the specific and frequently expressed expectation is he will be there until graduation (age 21). OK, "I need" isn't necessarily a good reason because this has to be about thank you but... read on and hopefully what "I need" will make sense. My gut is telling me that thank you is scared out of his mind about a lesser restrictive environment, and reasonably so. He has been locked down for over 7 years now. He's been told when to get up, when to eat, sleep, go to school, get dressed, take a shower, brush his teeth, etc. He reached the highest level at current Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and has earned the right to go out into the community unsupervised, which he was very excited about. He's not using the opportunity though because he feels adrift without the structure and safety of the unit. Again, completely understandable. But... somehow we've got to get him thru this. I told him tonight that I will find every group home in the state if I have to for him to look at, but that I really feel he's not going to find the "right" one because they are all going to be much freer than anything he's ever experienced before. His "anywhere-but-here-itis" has finally turned on him and I think he realizes that the next step is going to be very very different and probably very difficult, regardless of where it is. He did admit to me, after I told him that he needs to not freak out just yet and definitely not sabotage how far he's come, that he actually was considering engaging in a little sabotage this evening, just so he could stay where he is. It hurts my heart that he is so fearful, even though I totally understand it. Outside of locked doors is very scary for him. As far as he's come, that monster anxiety still has a very strong hold on him. Given the amount of time he's been in Residential Treatment Center (RTC), given his still extremely young emotional age, and given his almost complete lack of functional life skills, I feel very strongly about him staying in a supervised program until at *least* age 21. He needs the catch up time, he needs to cook a little more. He needs to be given every opportunity to be as strong and as healthy as possible when he finally does spread his wings. So I'm going up on Sunday for a little Mom/thank you time. Part pep talk, part therapy, part TLC for my boy. Hopefully we'll be able to talk it thru and get to the heart of things... and hopefully he has come far enough to take this next scary step on his own, with our support but without (too much) pressure from me or Residential Treatment Center (RTC) staff. This is really hard for me because it's going to require a lot of finesse - a skill I lost in the bad old days of thank you out of control. Much *much* easier to exert our will on difficult children than it is to guide them as they start making their own choices. Wish me luck and wisdom and maybe a little Now, on to normal stuff - can you believe it??? He was also a bit bummed this afternoon because he thinks his girlfriend is mad at him. She had told him "I love you" and he was concentrating on something else and kind of unh-hunh-ed her. She was miffed. I burst out laughing, but quickly explained that this is just so joyously normal, I was absolutely delighted. Then explained the Venus/Mars thing, told him to get used to it, and got him to laugh when I told him husband's response when I first told him I loved him (not the response us girls all dream of, needless to say). Explained that this is just the beginning of his life with women, and that I'm sure it's going to prove to be a challenging life because women can be tricky. Luckily, he has good role models. I can be extremely difficult, and husband can be extremely accommodating. I think thank you's starting to get it. And to end with- good news - we went camping in IN last weekend. It was the first "trip" all 6 of us had ever taken together (last camping trip I was preggo with- Diva, and our only vacation was about 5 years ago, while thank you was in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) #1). I think my anxiety level was higher than thank you's, LOL. I warned him up front that video games were absolutely forbidden, it would potentially be very boring, that we were *not* going to schlep him back to Residential Treatment Center (RTC) (4-hour trip 1 way) Sat. afternoon because he'd had enough, and that he needed to make a committment to the family to participate fully. In spite of the fact that we had to put up the tent in pitch darkness (Three Stooges comes to mind), it rained most of Sat and was wicked cold, he did *fantastic*. He's still loud as all get out, but there was not even a hint of antsiness on his part. Best of all, he actually caught himself (only twice the entire weekend) starting to obsess about what we would be doing in X hours and stopped himself from asking! I didn't have to do my usual cue of "anxious much?" at all! It was a resounding success all the way around and we are planning to do it again next month. My gosh, what a joy it was to have a happy, relaxed, *normal* family time. Was really just heavenly.