Okay, so where was I? The first week of July 2001. One daughter had just turned 11; I will call her K11. The other was still 7; I will call her K7. haha.
***I preface this part by saying the following: that K11 has major learning problems. We were told that she would never learn to read, learn math facts, be able to drive, graduate from high school. Scroll down a few posts, and you will see that she DID graduate and is headed for community college this fall.
***S was very aware about K11's issues because I spilled my guts to her over the phone many times about how difficult it was. S felt that we had made the right decision to homeschool her because we could try many different curriculums and methods and mix them up to allow for K11's learning issues. And homeschooling was working. She was learning. BUT in math she was about three years developmentally delayed, still working on addition and subtraction and beginning multiplication facts.
***We also suspect that K11 has some Asperger's symptoms. She will usually not look you in the eye or speak unless spoken to, and then only in a mumble sometimes, especially if she doesn't know you well.
***Also, since she was 8, she suffered from migraine headaches. We had her tested, skull scans, sleep studies, bloodwork, everything. Usually they would wake her up between 6 and 8 a.m. The doctors at first thought she was having seizures, but ended up saying it was hormones. So, of course, I brought the migraine meds with me and prayed for no migraines on the trip. That can totally ruin a day of sightseeing. Believe me, K11 had missed lots of fun activities because of migraines, playdates, going to parties, the theater, etc. Her migraines usually included throwing up several times. She would need three to four hours to sleep it off and then would be kind of icky the rest of the day. This was another reason taking her out of school was essential. She had missed a lot of days because of migraines. She would usually have one every two weeks or so, but sometimes she would get two in one week.
So anyway, we get to Minneapolis, and S picked us up at the airport. S is a talker, she is loud, and she is especially excited when showing people around her city. She knows about everything. The first day went well. We went and saw S's school, had our pics taken with different Charlie Browns around the city, went to the Mall of America. I guess this is when I started to see something was awry. S was paying special attention to K7, kind of like a favorite. It was always, "Oh, K7, let me show you this! Let me take your picture, K7!" Oh, well, no big deal. It didn't seem to be bothering K11, but, then, K11 never really shows her feelings. I found out later that indeed K11 was feeling left out of all of S's attention. S took us to the Rainforest Cafe and offered to buy K7 a stuffed monkey. She bought K11 one, too, but it seemed like an afterthought. At this point, I thought I was being a little bit paranoid. Why would she intentionally leave one child out? I kept thinking I was imagining it. When it came time to pay the bill, S insisted that K11 figure out the tip. Remember, K11 was still doing addition/subtraction and a little bit of multiplication facts. Even with S's guidance (S is an elementary Montessori teacher, by the way), K was totally confused and not understanding how to figure the tip. There was an exasperated look on S's face, in her voice and body language. (I apologize here. My italics will not turn off.) Once thing you don't do as K11's teacher is look like you have lost your patience with her or that you are disappointed in her. She feels like a failure.
That night we had a picnic by the pool. S introduced me and K7 to her boyfriend and parents, but basically ignored K11. She pointed out to K7 all the souvenirs in her parents' apartment from around the world and the meaning, history behind them. In the pool she swam with K7. Of course, K7 was wallowing in all the attention and having a wonderful time. Meanwhile, I could see that K11 was starting to feel left out. I was trying to give K11 basically all of my attention to balance things out, and that night S told me that I was being overprotective of K11 and giving her too much attention.
The next morning, we were to tour St. Paul, but K11 woke up around 7 a.m. with a migraine, vomitting, etc. That's where the story takes a drastic turn.