This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Just Kidding

I've been so careful about protecting Kitty from some of her triggers (like not being able to handle being told she's in the FAIR Club). Now I don't tell her she's in the FAIR Club, but just treat her that way instead. She knows she has fewer priviliges than everyone else, but we are very careful not to imply it is because she is in trouble. After a post on Lisa's blog about practicing I'm wondering if it would be better to innoculate her against her triggers instead.

When we call to her, her first response is always, "What'd I do?" Maybe I should just call her all the time. Making sure sometimes it's to just say, "I love you" or to give her a treat, or just to talk. I tried this for awhile, and it seemed to work, but lately it seems we only talk to the kids to fuss at them.

Yesterday we came up with a hand gesture to use when we are joking/ sarcastic/ teasing (palm up hand is in a u shape with the fingers together and the thumb opposing). Sometimes we use the hand to actually push up both corners of our mouth to make us smile - showing that it was said to make them smile. I've used it a lot. Didn't realize how sarcastic we are as a family.

Kitty loves to ask questions to which she knows the answer is no (like wanting to leave therapy and go eat fast food). This is often her way to dissociate and distract. It happens a LOT in therapy. I hate having to tell her no, because I feel like its counted against me, even though it is totally impossible anyway! So I avoid it. Most of the time I just say, "We'll talk about this later. Right now we're talking about "______." Sometimes I say, "Sure, as soon as you ___________."

She also likes to ask questions for which there is no real answer. For example, if we are watching a movie and a character does something inappropriate, illegal, mischevious or just plain impossible, she loves to ask things like, "Would you be mad at me if I sat in a tree and took chocolates and a doll from inside the house." "Would you let me date Joe Jonas?" "Would you be mad at me if I did that? It's almost always something that's not possible and she wouldn't do even if she were in the situation. Again, I hate saying No, because I feel like it is counting against me in her mind. So I've started saying sure. "Honey, if you get a super power then you have my permission to stop a bankrobber." Sometimes if it is feasible, but unlikely, then I still say sure, and when she asks in amazed tones, "Really?!" I give her the hand sign.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Math Camp

Math Camp

Did I mention that Hubby and I are thinking of having a Math Camp this Summer? We're going to contact the kid's former private school and see if they'll do assessments on all 4 of the kids. Bob and Ponito can get ahead a little - won't hurt them, and Bob was complaining that she was having trouble in math this year. Then we can have them do PACES all Summer. Rewards could include real money. They could budget their money, open checking accounts, get jobs (even if it's working for the parents as janitors), investing, responsibility for the food budget and shopping, playing the stock market, saving for something big (maybe a Wii or Ipods?). Field trips to places that "use math" like NASA...

Summer school hasn't worked well with Bear -

1st Summer - Bear is raging out of control and is abusive, aggressive and intimidating. We have to chemically sedate him for his own safety and that of the family. He does attend Summer school, but can only attend when the director is there. He ends up sleeping due to the medication most of the time. Half way through the Summer a bed finally opens up in residential treatment.

2nd Summer - less than 2 weeks into mandatory Summer school (he failed the required state assessment which supposedly meant he couldn't be promoted to high school, but they let him anyway), Bear is kicked out of school for bringing a toy gun that he's altered to look scarily real and showing it off. His intentions were to trade it for drugs. He also had on him 2 cell phones stolen from our family.

3rd Summer - Bear does nothing during the first session of Math because the school told him it was not for credit (made As and Bs in math, but failed the state assessment test). Made a 37. Second session he skipped almost every day and hung out with his friends and girlfriend apparently doing drugs and having sex until he was caught.

It's been a little easier with Kitty, but not much.

1st Summer - she does OK in camp, but is stressed out completely by the social aspects.

2nd Summer - she has workbooks to work on to try to catch her up some. She fights me on it the whole Summer.

3rd Summer - I spend the whole Summer home with her keeping her emotionally regulated. No social life, no academics, minimum stress.

Well, we have plenty of time until next Summer. I'll keep thinking about it.

Back to the Future

Recently we met with Bear's casemanager regarding his "Transition Plan." I was expecting to be "encouraged" yet again to move him completely out of the special program for emotionally disturbed youth, but that day's focus was different (although it did come up several times). They wanted to talk about Bear's plans after graduation and how to make sure that he's taking the classes he'll need to be ready for those plans.

I had spoken to the caseworker earlier in the week and told her that Bear doesn't qualify for the military which is his primary goal (because of the psychotropic medications he has to take). He'd also selected police officer (which at this meeting he decided to dump because it was too boring!), SWAT team, and lawyer. I told the casemanager that we she needed to encourage him to work on a "backup goal, " rather than tell him he can't go into the military. It had to be her doing it because he doesn't hear a word I say.

My nephew in Nebraska is Bear's idol and my nephew didn't qualify for the Marines (some health problem discovered after he was packed and ready to go), so now my nephew is going to college to become a lawyer.

So the casemanager casually mentioned that Bear would probably want to go to junior college before going to college. He stated that he didn't see any need for that. She hinted, implied, and suggested that it might be a good idea. He dismissed the idea. Since she wouldn't state it plainly so that he could understand her (think 2 by 4s!), I spoke up and stated firmly that the applied classes he is taking will not qualify him to go straight to college or the naval academy. If he wants to go to college he will have to take catch up classes (have I mentioned how much this irritates me?!).

Because I'm the mom, he ignored me.

Over and over I had told the case manager it needed to come from her. She dropped the subject because it had been covered. So Bear still doesn't know that he will need to go to junior college if he wants to go to college.

So I'm still the mean mom who is nagging him to go to Summer school to get caught up even though he's making As and Bs.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Packrats in the house

I don't know where Bob gets it from *insert ironic eye roll here*, but she is a major packrat.

I've been on Bob's case for not cleaning her room for weeks OK, years. About the time when I'd finally had had it up to here *insert mental pic of Mary holding hand way above head at about the height of the stacks of clothes recently removed from MARY'S closet*, Grandma took pity on Bob and bought her 2 brand new dressers.

At the time, Bob had stuffed entirely full of clothes -- one 5 drawer dresser, one filing cabinet (I know!), one end table size set of drawers, and 3 large laundry baskets full of clothes!! Not counting the clothes draped on chairs, the bed with easily 8 full size pillows and 2 body pillows, and hundreds of stuffed animals, all the papers she's ever gotten from school, CDs, her candy horde, tons of knick knacks, at least 10 little Origami paper boats (?!), several pairs of her honking big shoes, small blankets and scarves to keep her stuffed animals warm, and books everywhere...).

After helping put the dressers together (insert Cam A into slot B - "where the heck did that funny looking piece go?!"...), I sat with YDD and made her sort through her clothes before they were allowed to go in the new dressers. By the time we were done...

she only had enough clothes to fit in ONE dresser! *sigh*

Bob is a true packrat though - the other dresser will be full in less than a week. Now I need to get rid of the extra furniture before she fills it again. Did I mention she has 2 six foot bookshelves and one 3 foot one crammed FULL of books? She "needs" more shelves.

While I on the other hand, have only the basics. The only reason I have so many tubs of clothes is because I will lose all this weight again *I really need an ironic eye-rolling emoticon!*, and there's no need to purchase all new clothes. So in the long run I'm going to be saving a lot of money, right?! Right.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Updates clothes and cuddles

It’s raining here, but supposed to get back up into the 70s tomorrow. Still shorts and t-shirts weather though (OK capris instead of shorts for all us Southerners who think 70 is cold)!

I’m going through the kids’ old clothes and donating them to a local thrift store. I dropped off 6 large trash bags yesterday and have 5 more packed up for tomorrow (when it stops raining). Brought in almost that much over the last couple of weeks, but some of those bags included toys. Was really freaking out until I realized that since Summer before last (which is probably the last time we had a major purge) Kitty has grown from children’s sizes to a woman size 16! Bob has gone from about a woman’s size 10 to a 16 and back to a 10 (school PE in public school actually works). We won't even go into shoe sizes. Little Ponito hasn’t grown much over the last couple of years, and likes his clothes big and loose, but he has grown some and changed his taste in clothing.

Most importantly they went back to public school so no longer need to meet a private school dress code (and they hated their uniforms). Three Summers ago I dropped from a size 16 to a 6. Because of the stress of the last 3 years I’m back up (and over) to an 18, and I’ve gone to work in a totally new industry. Hubby’s gained a pant size. Bear is the only one that’s stayed pretty even.

Company is doing OK. The new guy seems to be working out. He still needs time to get up to speed, but we have high hopes. Jobs are trickling in, although most people seem to want to wait until next year to start.

Most of the kids are pretty stable right now. Bear is enjoying JROTC so seems to be staying out of trouble so he can stay in the program. We’re still working on his emotional issues (which JROTC could care less about. He doesn’t have to worry about getting kicked out for not communicating with us – so he doesn’t.). Not totally sure how his "new" therapist is going to work out. All attachment therapists seem to be a little different, and this one is no exception.

Kitty unfortunately is still needing a lot of external emotional regulation – which means I have to be home with her every day after school or she gets unstable, and threatens Grandma and Ponito, but she’s no longer suicidal. Recently she's decided she wants more privileges so is asking for more responsibilities. Today she did dishes without an argument or meltdown!! I know! I can't believe it either!
Bob is 13 – 'nough said. She’s also struggling with the extreme amount of homework that they expect from (non special education) students nowadays. She and I have been clashing a lot lately so Saturday I didn't let her go to Grandma's house for the night with the rest of the kids. We had a long talk about how the other kids need structure and need me to keep them safe. When I ask Bob to do something and she says No, as she often does, then the other kids hear it and refuse to do anything either.

We agreed that I would lighten up on her (reduce her chores and ask for less from her during the week when she's swamped by homework). In exchange she will be compliant with my directives at least in "public" (in other words especially in front of her siblings). If she has a complaint she'll pull me aside. We'll see how it works. I spent most of today redoing the chore chart.

*Shhh* don't tell anyone, but I've occasionally been letting Bob stay up with me past her bedtime and watch the latest Project Runway episodes. Only if she cuddles with me though!

Ponito is doing well. I know it’s tough on him to have all teenage older siblings. He often feels picked on I think. I love that even though he's almost 11 he'll still crawl in my lap and cuddle.

Maybe my love language is really Physical Touch?!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Cousin Vinny

Vinny Gambini: Mr. Wilbur, how'd you like Ms. brenkachicka's answer?

George Wilbur: Very impressive.

Vinny Gambini: She's cute too, huh?

George Wilbur: Yes, very.
Yes, Brenkachicka, the movie quote was from My Cousin Vinny. You WIN!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The FAIR Club

Recently someone asked me about the FAIR Club. I haven't posted about it in awhile because we rarely have anyone get put into it anymore, but we still use it. I wrote her a long e-mail and figured why "waste" all that typing. *grin*

The FAIR Club

I have a biodaughter [Bob] that is very bright. She’s always figured out ways around every discipline method we ever had, or I got tired of doing all the work. I’m a huge reader and would try every discipline method I could find. We tried 1-2-3 Magic, sticker charts, time outs, spanking, grounding, Love and Logic… NOTHING worked for more than 6 weeks (if that long).

When our “new” children were placed for adoption they were 11 and 13, my bios were 7 and 10. Once I began to suspect they had RAD I started reading. One of the first things I read was a Nancy Thomas book. I remember looking at the concept of Strong Sitting and thinking, “How in the world would I get my 5’9” 210lb raging (among other things he had untreated bipolar we didn’t know about) son [Bear] to do this?” Our 11 year old daughter [Kitty] was physically smaller, but diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (now we know it was RAD). Don’t get me wrong, I liked the concepts in Nancy Thomas’s books, but couldn’t figure out how to implement them with my specific kids, at that age, and with younger biokids who didn’t, and didn’t need to, do those things.

One of the biggest problems (excluding the raging and homicide/ suicide threats) that we had with all the kids was constantly hearing, “THAT’S NOT FAAAIIIIRRR!!!” *insert nasal whine* It was making me insane! So when I started the FAIR club, one instant way to get put in it was to say, “That’s not fair.” I have not heard that phrase in 2 years (didn’t change the feeling, just the behavior).

The FAIR Club makes life fair. Family life is not fair. We usually give our children privileges and material things that most other children don’t have. Sometimes we cut them some slack when they’re having issues, sometimes we’re harder on them because we know they can do better or because that’s what our family does. Some examples, I might do a chore for a child with a lot of homework. I only let them listen to Christian music on their MP3 players. In a “fair” life many kids don’t have parents who will do their chores, MP3 players or have parents who care what they listen to – so if I make things “FAIR,” they wouldn’t have an MP3 at all.

The main way kids get in the FAIR Club is by breaking a family rule. Our family rules are pretty simple. You must be RRHAFTBA (pronounced RAFT BAH). (Respectful, Responsible, Honest, and Fun To Be Around).

The concept behind the discipline portion of the FAIR Club is to remove a lot of the stress that goes with making decisions (like bedtime, where you’re going to sit, what you’re going to do with your friends…). It also allows them to focus on being with the family. A child in the FAIR Club needs more sleep (so earlier bedtime), they have assigned seats, there are very few “electronics” (phone, music players, TV, computers…) allowed so they can concentrate on getting out of the FAIR Club. The only activities they can attend are with the family (this benefits us too, so no one has to sit home with the child in trouble when everyone else goes out to eat or to the park or wherever). They are not allowed to isolate themselves in their room - they need to spend time with the family learning the right way to do things.

Once you’re in the FAIR Club you cannot get out for 24 hours minimum, but the maximum time is up to the child. They MUST be RRHAFTBA, finish their writing assignment (which often includes apologies where applicable), and finish any extra chores assigned (which usually includes either fixing what they damaged or making amends to the person or people they hurt – like doing some of Mom’s chores because she had to spend 2 hours dealing with your fit).

This means I do not have to nag or in any other way enforce the rules. Only when they are RRHAFTBA and their assignments and chores are done, can they get out. Unlike grounding they cannot be horrid for the time they are grounded and still be done. It is also subjective - so if I don't think they are Fun To Be Around or acting Respectfully to everyone, then they are still in the FAIR Club. If they refuse to go to bed at their new earlier time, well that's OK too. There are other things I can enforce more easily (like electronics, taking them places, and seeing their friends), and they are in the FAIR Club until they are compliant.

FAIR Club consequences are not intended to be punishments. They are trying to help the child learn why what they did was wrong and about restitution. I try to make all consequences as “Logical” as possible (in other words related to what caused them to be in trouble in the first place). This really helps too when you have children of differing abilities commit an offense. For example, One of my children [Ponito] stole a dog treat and ate it (Eeew!). His sister [Kitty] egged him on. Technically both children went in the FAIR Club.

The “neurotypical” child (the one who ate the cookie), had an immediate consequence of apologizing to the store manager for shoplifting and offering to pay for the cookie (he would have to pay double the cost from his allowance – so if the manager had charged him $.25 he would have lost $.50 – the extra money usually goes to us). Then he had a writing assignment, that involved writing a paragraph (he was in 3rd grade) about why it was wrong to shoplift (I pulled articles off the internet for this one), and he had to listen to me talk about what goes into a dog treat (it is so disgusting that most of the children listening gagged and probably would have thrown up if I hadn’t stopped). I don’t remember what his chore was, I don’t always assign them.

His sister has major learning disabilities, could not emotionally handle anything that hinted at criticism, was not at all attached to us yet, and is emotionally much younger (about age 4 which is too young for the FAIR Club). She did not get put in the FAIR Club (which at the time caused major meltdowns). I “justified” this because she did not actually take a dog treat. She did however have to stand next to her brother while he talked to the store owner, and I did require her to listen to the disgusting information about how dog treats are prepared (believe me that was a punishment). While she did not technically go in the FAIR Club, I believe she still reaped the benefits of it.

We've used the FAIR Club for over 2 years. It is still in effect, but rarely used now. Well, the writing assignments and chores are rarely used. In a lot of ways my RAD kids are always in the FAIR Club. They get a lot of extra supervision and enforced family time. Every time I interact with them, I’m thinking about what are they learning from this, is this therapeutic, are they learning to understand the consequences of their choices…

This response is already long enough. Feel free to go to my blog to learn more about the FAIR Club and how / why it works. On the right side of this blog are links to the posts I’ve done about the FAIR Club. This is a link to the first article. There’s one on writing assignments that I think explains things like natural versus logical consequences better than I did here. It also has lots of examples of how I applied it to my biokids as well as my adopted children and how I adapted it for their differing ages and development.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. I could write a book about it, but I tried (and I’m sure failed) to not do so here. I also have a much more thorough document, that I can send anyone who wants it. I haven’t posted it on my blog because it’s too big.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Communication and gaps

There was a very valid comment made about my last post that I wanted to clarify.

Believe me I would never make fun of Bear. This and the last post I did on this topic were not criticism of Bear. I know he is doing his best. In the last post, in one of the e-mail messages written to me, I (very gently I think) did point out his mistaken use of a a few words (atheist instead of athlete), because I wanted him to slow down and think about what he is writing.

I am dyslexic just like my mother, so yes, I know exactly how hard it is to look up a word when you don't know how to spell it. I also know we all make mistakes (I tend to type directly into my Blogger account and often forget to do spell check - I appreciate that no one criticizes my typos). In this case the majority of the mistakes made were not homophones or typos that still spelled words like coach and couch, but that he obviously he ignored the little red line underneath entirely.

On the rare occasion that Bear lets me help him with school work, I work hard to be helpful, not critical. While I'm a perfectionist myself, I try to limit putting any expectations on the kids to only what they are actually capable of, and occasionally challenge them to try to improve on that. I would NEVER make fun of a child to their face, criticize, yell at, or tease my child - or allow anyone else to do so. That's why stupid is a "naughty word" at our house.

I do admit that I try to find the funny/ absurd in things because often if I don't laugh, I'll cry. This blog and when I'm alone with Hubby or Grandma are the few places I share these though. NOT in front of the kids.

I am very proud of Bear for his ability to communicate with others. Sometimes I question his motives, but that doesn't change the fact that his verbal skills are very good. I have to admit this ability to communicate makes me more frustrated with that same lack of communication that he shows us. More on that in another post.

Truthfully, I know the school system is doing their best too. Just like us, they did not make him this way. He moved a LOT as a child. His C-PTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder), untreated (until 2 years ago) bipolar disorder, hyper vigilance, need for quiet to concentrate, short term memory issues, ADD (attention deficit disorder), cerebral dysrhythmia, medication side effects, etc., all make it very difficult for him to learn. There must be MANY gaps in his education. It is possible that he doesn't have learning disabilities. I just find this VERY hard to believe.

Either way, I don't feel that the school system he's in now is trying to fill in those gaps. They seem to be just layering on over the top all the stuff he "has" to learn because of the No Child Left Behind Laws. This is like trying to cover a crumbly, broken cake with icing. Might look good, it might not, but it's still broken and unsturdy. You're not going to be able to keep adding layers without it collapsing.

Do I believe Bear also has learning disabilities? Yes! When Bear first came here they used his testing and assessments from his previous school in rural Nebraska. These are good for three years so the school hasn't assessed him on all subjects. We've demanded asked that he be tested in all subjects now so are hoping to have the results of that in November.


Hubby came up with a better analogy for the type of education our children are getting. Think of honeycombed layers of rock. Each year there have been gaps in the kids education -concepts the children couldn't or didn't learn. This could be because of brain injuries, ADHD keeping them from focusing, learning disabilities, concepts missed for whatever reason (too truamatized to function and learn, maybe they moved and that concept was taught at a different time, out of school for doctor's appointments or illness), distractions from what's being taught, inability to understand because they don't have the basics.... Each year is layered over the last.

Most times what we learn builds on what came before (you have to know how to do addition before you can understand subraction or multiplication). Sometimes in order to teach the next subject the gap had to be filled in, while other times it might just have been skipped.

There can be huge gaps in our kids education with sink holes waiting to suck them down. Often it seems that the school system is just ignoring the holes and their consequences (Bear passed 8th grade math but failed the state assessment test despite modifications and repeated retesting), or fastening rickety rope bridges over the chasms below instead of trying to fill them up.

One of the things I really liked about the private school that Kitty went to was they went back and tested her over everything. They identified all the gaps, and if she missed a major concept in 3rd grade that effected more and more areas the longer it went unfilled, they didn't send her back to repeat all of 3rd grade, they just taught the one identified missed concept.

She then retested, and didn't have to repeat any concepts that fixing that one missing concept automatically filled. She was starting sixth grade and there were concepts from many years before that she didn't get. They were able to help her advance about 1 1/2 years, almost 2, in about a year. Her learning disabilities made this whole thing more complicated and in the long run the school was unable to help her with those, but I still prefer this method. (If you're interested the program is also available for homeschoolers. It's called ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) and the children work in PACE workbooks. Kitty was able to do these which surprised me since I figured with her ADHD she wouldn't be able to sit still that long.

I really wish this were an option for Bear. Instead, he takes grade level classes that are small group and simplified/ modified. In my opinion when he graduates he will not have a real high school diploma. He will have to go to junior college and be assessed, at which point he will have to take more classes to fill in those gaps.


Another good analogy (apparently I'm into analogies today!). Substitute 'school' for D.A. and 'education' for case.

Vinny Gambini: The D.A.'s got to build a case. Building a case is like building a house. Each piece of evidence is just another building block. He wants to make a brick bunker of a building. He wants to use serious, solid-looking bricks, like, like these, right? [puts his hand on the wall]

Bill: Right.

Vinny Gambini: Let me show you something. [he holds up a playing card, with the face toward Billy]

Vinny Gambini: He's going to show you the bricks. He'll show you they got straight sides. He'll show you how they got the right shape. He'll show them to you in a very special way, so that they appear to have everything a brick should have. But there's one thing he's not gonna show you. [turns the card, so that its edge is toward Billy]

Vinny Gambini: When you look at the bricks from the right angle, they're as thin as this playing card. His whole case is an illusion, a magic trick. It has to be an illusion, 'cause you're innocent. Nobody - I mean nobody - pulls the wool over the eyes of a Gambini, especially this one. Give me a chance, one chance. Let me question the first witness. If after that point, you don't think that I'm the best man for the job, fire me then and there. I'll leave quietly, no grudges. All I ask is for that one chance. I think you should give it to me.

Quick! What's the name of that movie?!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tenjooberrymuds - what did he say?

I was going through the kids computer and adding websites and words to be blocked to our fantastic kid protection program developed by a family friend (let me know if you're interested and I'll add the contact info here). Let's just say that I should be better about doing this more often.

Anyway, I ran across these e-mails that Bear had sent, and thought you guys might get as big a chuckle out of them as I did. ALL of the grammar and spelling errors are Bear's - and remember his e-mail program has spell check and grammar check so I guess he was ignoring them. These were written at the END of his first year in high school. So glad my son has no learning disabilities and is getting an excellent education.

Hi Mr h______ this is [bear] How are you doing? I am a shtat A
B student In my first year of high school I abrishyat the help you gave me
in grade School. I don’t think I could have made it this far with out your
One of the big things I’m working on is trying to make the varsity foot
ball team witch is a big thing IN the South it’s a big deil for me But I know I
can make it if try hard.
Some once said to me In math class I should not give
up evan if it shard Just because it’s esery to do. You also help make me who I
am to day by teaching things that I need from a father figure of some sort like
how to contrl my anger and you were always there for me to talk to if I need it
IT SO THANKS A LOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Hi Mr H______. This is [Bear]. How are you doing? I am a straight A and B student in my first year of high school. I appreciate the help you gave me in grade school. I don’t think I could have made it this far without your help.

One of the big things I’m working on is trying to make the varsity foot ball team, which is a big thing in the South. It’s a big deal for me, but I know I can make it if try hard.

Someone once said to me that in math class I should not give up, even if it's hard, just because it’s easier to do. You also helped make me who I am to day by teaching me things that I needed to hear from a father figure of some sort: like how to control my anger. You were always there for me to talk to if I needed it which I didn't get from any older male figure that really cared about me and that really meant it, so thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HI Couch this is [Bear]. HOW are you doing? This is my E-mail
add If you want to email me back some time. Things are good here hot but good
I’m going to try to make varsity Foot ball next year. Tell the rest of the
couches I said Hi.

Interpretation: I don't think I need to couch you on this one.

To: 'recruit @'
Subject: Foot Ball Camp

I was wandering if I was to get a
later of recumedshon from different people I could get some other or some way to
getting in to
Your camp. Because I was adopted last summer and my family
love the fact that I want to be in foot ball I think it one way for people to
show the emotions and get to know more people...

Yeah Bear. This is going to get you into college football camp. *sigh* Nice to know that our family loves the fact that you want to be in football (as long as it makes him happy and keeps him out of trouble we're OK with it, but love it?). Football helps you show emotions?

I'd give an interpretation, but your guess is as good as mine on most of this one.

Did I mention he's making all As and Bs in language arts (aka English) and has no learning disabilities according to all school records? Way to go school system!

Thought you guys might enjoy this e-mail I received recently. Luckily my kids speak much more clearly than this, OK, somewhat more clearly than this, OK... nope, that's all I'm going to admit to.

By the time you finish reading this YOU WILL UNDERSTAND “TENJOOBERRYMUDS”.

In order to continue getting-by in our homeland, we all need to learn the NEW English! Practice by reading the following conversation until you are able to understand the term "TENJOOBERRYMUDS".

With a little patience, you'll be able to fit right in. Now, here goes...

The following is a telephone exchange between maybe you as a hotel guest and room-service somewhere in the good old U S A today......

Room Service : "Morrin. Roon sirbees."
Guest : "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service."
Room Service: " Rye . Roon sirbees...morrin! Joowish to oddor sunteen???"
Guest: "Uh..... Yes, I'd like to order bacon and eggs."
Room Service: "Ow July den?"
Guest: ".....What??"
Room Service: "Ow July den?!?... pryed, boyud, poochd?"
Guest: "Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry.. scrambled, please."
Room Service: "Ow July dee baykem? Crease?"
Guest: "Crisp will be fine."
Room Service: "Hokay. An Sahn toes?"
Guest: "What?"
Room Service: "An toes. July Sahn toes?"
Guest: "I... don't think so."
RoomService: "No? Judo wan sahn toes???"
Guest: "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo wan sahn toes' means."
RoomService: "Toes! Toes!...Why Joo don Juan toes? Ow bow Anglish moppin we bodder?"
Guest: "Oh, English muffin! !! I've got it! You were saying 'toast'...Fine....Yes, an English muffin will be fine."
RoomService: "We bodder?"
Guest: "No, just put the bodder on the side."
RoomService: "Wad?!?"
Guest: "I mean butter... just put the butter on the side."
RoomService: "Copy?"
Guest: "Excuse me?"
RoomService: "Copy...tea..meel?"
Guest: "Yes. Coffee, please... and that's everything."
RoomService: "One Minnie. Scramah egg, crease baykem, Anglish moppin, we bodder on sigh and copy ... rye??"
Guest: "Whatever you say."
RoomService: "Tenjooberrymuds."
Guest: "You're welcome"

Remember I said "By the time you read through this YOU WILL UNDERSTAND 'TENJOOBERRYMUDS'.....and you do, don't you?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting the angries out

In the van on the way home from picking up Bear after school, Grandma asked Bob to fix the phone numbers in Grandma's new phone. Bob finished it, and then teased Ponito by saying it was her own phone. When Grandma heard that she immediately held out her hand for the return of the phone. Bob did give it back.

Grandma realized she needed a couple more numbers fixed in the phone so she handed it back again, but Ponito was faster than Bob (Kitty and Bear were in the back seat). Bob tried to get the phone and then tried to tell him she was the only one who knew how to do it, but Ponito wouldn't hand it over and said he wanted to figure out how to do it.

At this point we were home and everyone but Bob and Ponito were carrying things in. Apparently Bob snatched the phone from Ponito so Ponito kicked her.

All the kids want their own cell phone, added to the fact that Bob is incredibly competitive. She later admitted that she wanted there to be things that only she could do.

Bob was definitely not blameless, but Ponito had crossed a line so I sent him straight to a time out in his room. As he has repeatedly in the last few weeks that we've been dealing with his angry behaviors, he slammed the door (repeatedly) and there were many loud crashes. This time there was no broken mirror or ripped off shutters though. After his 10 minute time out (I know he's a little old for timeouts, but he needed the break. Luckily he's a biokid so I don't have to worry about attachment issues!) I went in to talk to him.

Long conversation. He felt his sister "deserved" to be hit. He's got a lot of angry feelings that keep boiling over. It is sooo nice to be able to address this kind of stuff with a "neurotypical" kid who is aware of his feelings and body and understands consequences and conscience.

I actually talked to him about id and ego! The id is the toddler part of your body that wants to do what it wants. The ego is his conscience (Ponito supplied the word!), the boss of the id, that doesn't let the id do things that aren't right. I asked Ponito what happened to his ego. He said he guessed his ego was on vacation!

Ponito said he is angry all the time. I asked Ponito why he didn't hit anybody at school (thinking that I would point out that his ego was working at school). He said it was because he knew if he kicked his teacher like he wanted to that he would be suspended. Say what?! Why do you want to kick your teacher? What's going on? And Ponito said ....nothing. *sigh*

So now I'm getting a little freaked. Is there something seriously wrong? Is he depressed? Is he sick? Is someone hurting him? Is he having trouble at school? Is there something I don't know about? Ponito is not answering my questions. He's not talking to me. He's watching the clock and giving me ultimatums ("We're going to be done in 4 minutes or I'm out of here!"). He threatens to hurt himself and he is not able to tell me that he won't hurt someone else (in fact he threatens anyone who gets on his bad side), so I inform him I'm establishing the "4 foot rule." I can't trust him to stay safe or not hurt someone else.

Meanwhile he's throwing stuffed animals and hitting the wall with his fist, and that got me thinking. What if he needs to get some of this anger out (safely). So we talked about hitting pillows, screaming cusswords in his pillow, hitting the punching bag (which he reminded me was currently on the floor because the chain holding it was breaking), so I suggested kicking the punching bag. I suggested he draw a picture of his sister and put it on the punching bag thinking it might help him calm a little to draw it. He's having none of it.

Finally he gets up and asks me if I have an old shirt I don't want anymore. Say what?! I mention the Goodwill pile in my room. He wants to know if he can have the shirt of Bob's that I disapproved of last week so he can tear it up. Nope that shirt got torn when I tried to take it out of Bob's room last week (that was an argument you're glad you missed!). Bob is a horrible packrat so none of her clothes are in the Goodwill pile.

Ponito tries to destroy a pair of nylon sweatpants, but they're too strong for him. I point out a pair of jeans with a big hole in the knee (probably shouldn't have been in the Goodwill pile anyway). He grabs and tears the knee the rest of the way, but can't do any more damage. Finally with a pair of scissors to get holes started, he manages to completely shred the jeans and completely change his attitude.

He's talking, laughing, smiling... the tension is gone. We talk about ways to handle this in the future. He asks for a pile of jeans. *grin* I suggest some less destructive choices (after all those clothes are going for a good cause).

We talk about physical activities really helping him, and decide he can run around in the back yard (not the front until he's safe to play with his friends). Counting to 10 (and if that doesn't work counting to 10 again!). I told him I used to write in my journal when I was mad at my sister - all sorts of mean things. One time I wrote down every cussword I knew, just to see how many I knew. We decided he could do that or he could close his eyes and recite them in his head (instead of letting them out of his mouth - yes, I know this violates the premise of the No Cussing Club, but it's better than kicking his sister right?!). We talked about writing a letter to the person we're mad at about how mad we are - and then tearing it up.

Afterward he gave me a hug and bounced downstairs - everything is back to normal.

Please Lord don't let this be hormones! I don't think I'll survive another one right now!

Cheese makes you fat

I was cleaning off the kitchen counters when I noticed that one of the two bags of cookies I'd bought the day before was waaay too light. *sigh*

I rarely buy sweets, and this was intended as dessert for a meal. The kids knew that, and usually if the package is closed they won't be the first to open it without permission. Immediately I knew it was Bear.

On the phone with him that afternoon, Bear admitted to eating the entire 1 and 2/3 packages of cookies although he did of course justify his behavior.

They were already open (most likely a lie).

Anyone could have had some (but no one else knew they were open Bear!).

******************Back History*************************

Saturday afternoon

The day we bought the cookies I had all 4 kids at the grocery store (yes, I already know I'm a masochist - you don't have to point this out). Bear was "starving" and like most of the kids didn't want to be there. I quickly pointed out an advantage of shopping on Saturday is the multitude of free samples. So the kids grazed as we shopped and it kept the natives from being as restless.

In the deli we came upon a display of cheese with a very nice lady offering free samples. Sixteen year old Bear immediately, very rudely, stated loud enough for everyone to hear, "I hate cheese. Cheese makes you fat." To which I quietly replied, having heard this many times before, it's OK to not like cheese, and too much cheese can make you gain weight, but this particular kind of cheese is better for you than others (it was a white cheese versus say yellow American). To which he of course replied, "Cheese makes you fat."

The lady joined in at this point and stated cheese doesn't make you fat. Bear of course stated, "Cheese makes you fat." I immediately scooted out of the area as fast as possible, and let the subject drop.

Sunday on the way home from church in the car.

Ponito and Bob start talking about all the yummy food they have available to them in Sunday School. Ponito mentions that he had at least two brownies, some cake, and was talking about donuts. Bob states she had several brownies and couldn't stop eating donut holes until someone helped her by closing the box. I questioned the fact that Ponito was obviously in the youth area, and he assured me that Bear had taken him (I asked Bear to stop doing this. Ponito doesn't belong in the youth area). Ponito then squealed on Bear's snack gorging. Last week, Kitty was complaining because Bear keeps coming into her Sunday School class so he can eat donuts. She claimed he had 5 donuts (Bear said it was only 4).

I've always wanted to walk up to people who bring all this junk to Sunday School and point out that they are NOT really doing the kids any favors. What about kids with diabetes or food allergies? You could potentially kill a kid! Yes, most kids this age are old enough to deal with the consequences of pigging out, but do they really want to be responsible for the one (like mine) who can't?
I do admit I'm mean to the sample distributors at grocery stores. When my kids rush in front of me and are given samples, I often come up to them and ask, "Did you just give a sample to my 13 year old daughter without parental permission?" They usually are extremely apologetic and start asking about food allergies. Their policy says that all children under 14 must have parental permission. Bob obviously doesn't look 13, or 12 or 10... I've been doing this awhile! *evil grin* I always reassure them, but, if it makes them stop and think next time... then I feel like I've made a difference.

Kitty pointed out that everyone should stop talking about all the sweets at Sunday School, or Mom would fix it so they didn't get them anymore (Smart girl!). She does try very hard to not do things she knows she's not supposed to (and make sure I know about it).

Learning opportunity!

I started by mentioning that sugary sweets have empty calories and are more likely than cheese to make you fat (see how I tied that in there?!). Then I immediately assured Kitty or Bear, I forget which, that no, I don't think they are fat.

We then talked about how sugary treats make some of them hyper (Kitty).

Then I introduced the concept of sugar crashes. That unlike protein, your body uses up the calories quickly and you get tired, depressed and irritable.

At which point I let the subject drop.

Within an hour of getting home, Ponito then did a beautiful demonstration of a sugar crash. He and I talked about it afterward (after he'd had a chance to cool off in his room), and I think this really drove it home for him. We also talked about the fact that he is 1/3 the size of Bear so he can't eat the same amount of stuff and not expect it to hit him harder.

*****************Nutrition lesson complete********************

When I discovered the near empty package of cookies, I decided to confirm that it was Bear that took them, by looking for the other package in his room (have I mentioned there are some major advantages to him being a packrat who can throw nothing away?). For once I didn't find the package (which makes me think he took it to school and sold off the cookies that he didn't eat), but I'll tell you what I did find in the next post.

Bear as you know confirmed that he had eaten the cookies. At the dinner table that night the subject came up again, and I have to admit I took a potshot at Bear. I pointed out that cookies were more likely to make you fat than cheese. The mention of cookies immediately made Kitty think of the cookies that we'd bought at the store recently so she asked for them for dessert. I told her that I'd love to have the cookies for dessert, but Bear had eaten them all.

Too mean?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Family photo

My guys just hate getting dressed up. They hate ties and jackets. Occasionally Bear likes dressing up and feels he must be perfectly matched. (When I made him change before church because I don't allow the kids to wear blue jeans - yes, Bear even denim shorts - he was very upset that his shoes had a blue stripe that no longer matched his outfit! He likes wearing his JROTC uniform. Did I mention I wonder about a possible diagnosis of OCD for him?

All my guys are from Nebraska and are always hot. They don't own sweaters and have only one or two long sleeve shirts. They wear hoodies at the most and don't own coats.

So I came at it from a different direction with the girls. I asked them what they liked about the evening gowns. They didn't really answer, but I asked if they'd be happy with just getting to wear a dress, and the answer was yes. So yesterday we looked at Salvation Army for dresses and skirts. I told them their outfit could be red, white or bluejean (or a combination). They didn't really find anything (although I did find a cute bluejean dress - Kitty liked it too, but it was too big for her). We've got plenty of time though.

See?! We really didn't used to have formal pictures with evening wear!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

God Story - new employee

The company that Hubby and I own has been strongly effected by the recession. We know we need to do something to increase our eroding client base. Over the last year or so we've tried hiring salespeople, and while each one has brought something to the company, they've all left. We've talked about hiring another, and Hubby has started making sales calls himself.

When the company moved to its new location we happened to move two doors down from an employment agency. They sent us the resumes for some telemarketers, but that wasn't what we were looking for. One day they had a visitor who happened to be looking for a sales position and one of the guys there mentioned that we were looking.

The visitor casually stopped by, and we hit it off. He was "perfect" and we were very excited; however at the last minute he was offered a job with a company he'd worked for previously with great benefits and a $12K raise. We couldn't compete. We couldn't figure out God's plan for us in this respect, but tried to accept that He had His reasons.

The good news was the sales guy liked us so much that he offered to put an ad for a sales person for us in all of the networking marketing groups that he belonged to. We said of course.

We interviewed 5 of the applicants. I liked one. Hubby liked another. Hubby convinced me that his was the better choice, but when we offered him the position he had taken another position already. Hubby's arguments against the candidate I liked were valid so she wasn't the next obvious choice.

Hubby was discouraged and overwhelmed. He had agreed to a breakfast meeting with a former coworker who had just lost his job. Through a miscommunication the friend never showed up. Hubby called me and suggested I meet him at the local office supply store to look at some things we needed for an upcoming presentation.

Here's the God part! While Hubby was waiting in the lobby of the restaurant, a man came in to fill out an application. As the man was talking about his (incredibly overqualified) experience with the manager, Hubby was listening and as I walked in we both heard that his experience was in sales, but he needed a job. He'd applied everywhere and had been unemployed for 8 months.

I invited him to breakfast, and we learned he was incredibly qualified. We invited him in for an actual interview, and hit it off. Hubby and I didn't even have to discuss it, we offered him the job. He started almost immediately. His first full day is tomorrow. So of course I can't be there because I have jury duty.

Still, how crazy is that?! I think this goes beyond "the right place at the right time." God's plan is hard to wait for, but always amazing!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Holiday traditions

A great blogger at Living with RAD, brought up an intriguing thought. When our kids first came to live with us it was right before the holidays. Coming from a blended family myself, and having read everything I could, it did occur to me that the new kids probably had holiday traditions that they would want to continue. I didn't want them to feel left out or excluded by our family traditions, inside jokes, and other things like that.

Try as I might I couldn't get much out of them beyond that they celebrated Christmas (versus Hannukah or something else - or nothing). They did not, of course, still believe in Santa Claus

At the time I was positive that Ponito still believed in Santa, and actually thought 10 year old Bob might too. (Shh! Don't tell, but I still believe in Santa too!). So I informed the new kids early on that Santa only came if you believed in him, so if they didn't believe in him that was fine, but they were to keep it to themselves if they wanted Santa presents. (Reading this makes it sound like I was threatening or blackmailing them - I don't think I came across as the Godfather). Still I didn't want them to shatter the younger kid's dreams just to prove they were mature and smart. I do think that Kitty told Bob anyway.

Still, all 4 of my kids are smart and NO ONE has told me they don't believe in Santa. We did go through a short period where Kitty accused me of lying to her, and one of her examples was Santa. I hope I've since been able to reassure her that I do not lie.

We came up with some new traditions for holidays too, but kept some of the old ones that all the kids really like. When we were little, my dad and stepmom always let us open 2 gifts on Christmas Eve. One was a toy (because we couldn't wait - though this stopped as we got older), and one was from "Nana" whom I had never met (Stepmom's Grandma I think). "Nana's gift" was always a pair of PJs to be worn Christmas Eve. I love this tradition and now include a book too. None of my kids, bio or otherwise know who Nana is, but this is a tradition they don't want to stop.

When Hubby and I got married I was wondering what traditions would stay, and what we would adapt. Discovered his family had very few traditions and he was easy.

A one time event that the kids actually cemented into a family tradition is the "Christmas picture." One year Bob had a big growth spurt and the dress we'd picked for Christmas pictures didn't fit. So with less than an hour until our scheduled appointment time with our favorite cousin/ photographer we rushed to the nearest thrift store. They had almost nothing in Bob's size, but when we looked at adult sizes it turned out that one of the evening gowns fit (length didn't matter for the picture). It was on sale, and there was a matching scarf that covered her bare shoulders. Gorgeous. We bought it and ran.

The next year the new kids had arrived and Bob bragged about the evening wear the year before. Kitty was fascinated and instantly a new tradition was born. That year I let the girls wear old evening gowns of mine. Obviously I was so focused on the girls that I didn't pay attention to what the boys wore.

Fixed that the next year.

More of the same the following year. The girls are growing so fast we have to find new dresses every year. Luckily bridesmaid dresses are easy and pretty cheap at thrift stores. The boys are miserable though.
So how do you stop a tradition that is going out of control?!! This year I want to do something casual, but can't get anyone to agree. The girls insist on continuing with evening wear. The boys (all 3 of them) hate it. *sigh*
Ok, I got off topic! Anyway, we were talking about family traditions that include the kids. While writing this post I read Social Wrkr 24/7's latest series of blog posts starting with this one. It really hit home and seemed to really go with this post. I advise checking it out!
So what family tradition could you not live without? How have you accomodated your child's needs? We've scaled back a lot. I've completely chunked most of Halloween. We only have 3 presents each on Christmas day. Even birthdays are scaled back. Some of that is the economy and the fact that we now have twice as many kids, but really it's mostly because that's what Kitty and Bear need, and all I have the energy for.

Thankful Thursday

We had an ARD (What Texas calls an IEP meeting) this week for Kitty. Used to the usual battles, I was armed with her latest neuropsych report. Kitty is my quiet, compliant RAD child. She saves all the drama for home.

Kitty take what they call a "Class within a class." This means that she is in the general ed/ mainstream class, but her assignments come from a resource room teacher, and she can be pulled out if she needs individual instruction or is feeling overwhelmed. One of her mainstream teachers who was present said she is quiet and compliant and a joy to have in class. If he didn't know she was in special ed he'd never believe it. My heart began thumping. This is when people start talking about mainstreaming her.

Not this time! Everyone was totally on board with keeping her where she is for the rest of the year and possibly on into high school. Makes me wonder what she is showing at school. No one talked about any behavior issues of course, but they obviously are seeing something besides just her learning disabilities. This is a good thing.

One thing we did hear this time that Hubby and I had been discussing a lot recently, is that when our kids graduate it seemed like they would not have a "real" diploma. This was finally confirmed at this meeting. I can't believe Bear is half way through high school and we're just now hearing this. We were told that our child in these type of special classes wants to go to college then they will be expected to attend junior college or community college and take placement tests that will most likely have them taking catch up courses before being able to move along to college material.

Does anyone else have a problem with this? "Free appropriate public education" that will not be giving them a complete education, so that we have to pay for additional classes in junior college. That stinks! Plus, Bear thinks he's getting As and Bs and going to the Naval Academy. Not that I'm saying I want to discourage him from trying, but it would have been nice if we at least had known. We definitely would be making a bigger stink about him going to Summer School and getting more free education. Maybe he would have bothered with trying.

Speaking of math... we sent Bear to Summer School because despite his having made As and Bs in math during the school year he failed the TAKS test (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills). This last school year wasn't a key year so it didn't matter that he failed. He knew this, that's why he didn't bother trying or even showing up.

Now Bear is failing math. He could potentially be kicked out of JROTC. His math teacher and his ROTC officer are both thinking he needs a tutor. Aargh! Makes me so mad I could spit! **imagine this said with clenched teeth and a slight Texas drawl**

Yet another reason for him to stay after school I bet. He's already avoiding the house because the family is here. Kitty is having more frequent meltdowns (luckily still relatively minor), which upsets him even more.

Oh wait! This is supposed to be Thankful Thursday and there's 9 more minutes of Thursday left. Ummmm... oh I know! Bear came home on the bus today even though he didn't want to! He'd argued with me the night before, but apparently accepted my decision.

The kids are complying with some of their chores. Grandma got home from New Jersey on Tuesday night. Now she has stomach flu or something (just like poor Kitty had, but she couldn't have gotten it from Kitty so I'm sure she caught it on the plane). Doing afterschool on my own is not easy, but it means the kids are more likely to do their own chores. I understand why Grandma does this (she knows if they get too far behind it will be almost impossible to catch up), but it means the kids don't have the opportunity to have to get the chores done.

The TV actually stayed off until almost 7pm today because I was there to enforce that it couldn't go on until most of them had their chores done and I kept dragging them back to have them finish chores. Bob is giving me the most trouble because unlike my passive aggressive kids who quietly try to sneak it past me, she will get in my face and refuse to do it. I hate not being able to enforce the rules with her.

I do give Bob some leeway because she does have hours of homework that the other kids do not have, but the blatant disrespect makes it really hard to "hide" that I'm not enforcing the chores for her. The other kids see her refusals and do it too. I know that is a big part of why Kitty had a mini meltdown about doing her chores tonight. *sigh*

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kitty Meltdown

Kitty has been doing much better since residential treatment a couple of months ago. We feel that some of this must be the med changes, and some that I am getting really good at providing external regulation for her. Still it's been really nice.

A couple of weeks ago, Kitty was doing so well that I decided to go back to work. At therapy after the second day, she was back to her old self. Hating Ponito and Grandma. I immediately went back to being her after school care.

Last week she was sick with the flu. One day after she was better, I asked her to do a load of dishes (her absolute least favorite chore). She instantly refused and appeared to have dropped immediately into fight flight or freeze. She, and to some extent Bob, immediately began listing all the reasons why it should be Ponito's job. Some of what they said was valid. Some of it was I needed the dishes done and knew I could get Ponito to do it with less fuss. I let her go.

At therapy on Tuesday, we discussed this with Kitty's AT (attachment therapist). The AT would never criticize me in front of Kitty, but she did seem to be pointing out that I was not holding Kitty accountable after she recovered from her meltdown. Usually we are consistent and if we ask the kids to do something then having a fit only delays the inevitable.

So I was a little more aware. Today I asked her to do a chore that wasn't on her list for today (kitty litter - her 2nd least favorite chore). Kitty immediately dropped into fight, flight or freeze (again she chose fight). She forcefully told me he** no and there was no way in he** I could ever make her do her brother's chore (she admitted that while they are supposed to alternate days, she hasn't done it since last Thursday, while he did it on Monday). Although I told her we'd talk more about it when she was calm again ("I AM CALM"), it went down hill fast.

At first I spoke to her in a calm voice, and tried to breathe loudly (slowly and deeply) to see if I could help her regulate (wish I had a Darth Vader mask!). Talking to her just escalated her though. So I tried staying near her, but not interacting (she chose to sit in a chair in the middle of the living room of course). This apparently made her feel rejected. She told me I loved the biokids more than her, she said no one cared about her, that she would kill herself, she would kill me, that she was never going to be part of the family....

Finally she got up and ran upstairs. By now she had made threats to herself so, as she knew I would, I followed her (when you threaten yourself or others the "4 Foot Rule" instantly goes into place meaning an adult must be within 4 feet of you at all times). She ran in her room and shut the door and sat in front of it. If she'd gone into the room I would have followed her in, but assumed that she couldn't hurt herself if she was sitting on the floor in front of the door. So I sat outside the door.

Here's where the parental guilt comes in. I thought this was about witnessing her little brother have a fit, being asked to do a chore, or the fact that she had an asthma attack without having her inhaler there so I sent our male neighbor (his wife wasn't home) to bring it to her.

Turns out that there was a communication error and Hubby had called the school to have her waiting for me when I got there to take her to a gastrointerologist appointment. I had a brain fart and had already missed the appointment (I thought it was at 2:45 but it was at 2:15). The doctor called me and rescheduled for another day. I thought I was the one who was going to be telling the school to have her ready so I just drove on and stopped worrying about it. Poor Kitty sat in the office for an hour.

As soon as I realized what she was talking about I reassured her that it was a misunderstanding. That I'd had no idea she was sitting in the office.

..... and then it was over.

She came out of her room and gave me a hug. Walked downstairs and all was forgotten.

OK, not all. She still refused to do the kitty litter, but by then her brother, who was actually assigned the chore, had already gone to do it. So she still didn't end up doing the chore.

After therapy on Tuesday we'd talked about several things that were upsetting Kitty. One of these was clothes. She wants to go to a store in the mall called Hot Topic to buy her clothes. She feels her sister is allowed to wear more revealing clothing. We talked about how everyone in the family, including me, buy our clothes at thrift stores. That I let the kids pick what they want to wear instead of say making them wear their uniforms from the private school which were still perfectly functional. I do understand wanting to look like their friends. I did mention that sometimes what she chooses is not flattering, but that's hard to tell when she can only see the front.

We also talked about the fact that her younger siblings are occasionally allowed to stay home alone, but she's not. I mentioned that her older brother isn't either, and she admitted that was because he lies, steals and would probably have a party. I admit I had a tough time with this one because I know she is emotionally only 5 years old (and I would never leave a 5 year old home alone), but she doesn't get that. She doesn't lie, steal or really do anything truly inappropriate. I never leave the kids home together so that wouldn't be an issue. I left it at, she's not ready to be responsible for things going wrong. She of course didn't like this answer.

Now I think I can talk more about if she wants extra privileges she has to accept extra responsibilities - including occasionally doing extra chores. Right now she has almost half the chores of the other kids. Ironically, Ponito happily helped with dinner while I sat and talked to Kitty. I doubt Kitty even noticed that he didn't complain once while he did things that are most definitely not his chore. Oh well, she'll get there someday.

ALL of the children are saying, "No one else does their chores so I'm not going to." How many times can you say, "We're talking about you, not your siblings" and "If you don't do your chores because no one else does, and they don't do their chores because you don't... NO ONE is doing their chores!" *sigh*

What I got from the ACT conference - relationships

The main thing I got from Katharine Leslie's presentation was about relationships (interdependence, reciprocity...). I learned that I do not have a relationship with my adopted children because a relationship is...

Relationship: A mutual satisfaction of each other's needs.

Correspondent Reciprocity: (big words, but don't worry it'll be OK!!)
Most friendship relationships are 50/50 equal. I pay for Jeri's lunch on the way to the seminar. She pays for mine on the way back. She drives, I offer a shoulder to cry on (not literally - she's driving!). Mike, the organizer of the seminar, offers us a place to stay. We volunteer at the seminar, lugging things, helping with check in. We are all more comfortable with the equality. As adults we can handle things being uneven for awhile, but usually the person asking for more feels guilty until the scales can balance.

Complementary Reciprocity: People give and take different things, but are equally satisfied.
75% (parent) + 25% (child)=100% or even 90% (parent) + 10% (child) =100% 

This is typical of healthy parent - child relationships. For example, a parent may give an adult child $100 dollars as a birthday present. Both are comfortable with this exchange; however, if the child were to give the parent $100 or an equally expensive gift for the parent's birthday this would most likely upset the parent. A thoughtful card or a phone call would be more appreciated/ appropriate. (obviously this is just an example).

An intimate relationship (like a marriage) usually starts as correspondent, but later becomes complementary reciprocity.

Unconditional Caregiving
A child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (or really most children of trauma) has no idea how to reciprocate. They do not learn to have healthy relationships with others or themselves. They feel isolated, entitled, superficial love...

Providing unconditional love to a child without getting anything in return will make you sick. (If this were a stranger or a celebrity it would be called stalking!). Instead we should practice unconditional caregiving.

Children have to be taught how to reciprocate. Unlike healthy children who can learn through their parent's role modeling of appropriate behavior, traumatized children have to be taught - more on that in this post - Relationships(cont.).

When Reciprocity is working correctly in Parent-Child relationships:


  • Positive interactions
  • Each has pride in the other


Child needs:

  • Accurate reflection of self as worthy and lovable
  • Support for exploration and expression
  • Knowledge and skills as to how to please the parent

Parent needs:

  • Acceptance of parental warmth, affection, support
  • Compliance with limit settings and directives
  • Signs of appreciation and adoration

As a sweet biochild, Ponito has reciprocity down cold. Love that kid.
We had a skirmish today because he's been lying when he doesn't want to do something or forgets.

He's been saying he did it (usually a chore), and when this involves (not) feeding the dogs that's huge. When I confronted him on the lie he pouted and then got angry. I tried to get him to understand I wasn't mad, I just needed him to tell me when he didn't do something so we could fix it.

Grandma is finally back from vacation (Missed you, Mom!). She took him with her to go pick up Bear after school and he came back calm, and eventually climbed in my lap gave me a kiss and said he was sorry. It took a little more coaxing to get him to talk it through.

**At bedtime tonight, we discovered that when he'd gotten mad and slammed around in his room he'd ripped the shutters off one of his windows, destroying the shutters and damaging the wall.

Now he'll have to reimburse for the repair work. He recently earned almost $30 that he was planning on using to buy speed cups (toy). That will probably get confiscated. Sad really. He worked hard for that. He won't like it, but he'll understand. Actions have consequences.

Kitty also had a meltdown tonight. I'm putting it on a different post because this is already long enough.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I love you more

Parent comment at the Katharine Leslie seminar:

"My adopted child that we're having the hardest time with is my middle child. He is constantly saying, 'You love ___________ and ____________ more than me.' No matter how many times I say I love him.

I've asked him if he knows I love him, and he says, 'Yes, but...'

One day I told him, 'I love _________ (older bio child), because I gave birth to him and I have to. I love _________ (adopted younger biosibling to adopted child) because he's sweet and he's the youngest. You're an a**hole and I still love you, so I guess I love you more.'"

LOL! I just loved this!

Family needed

This family needs help.

If you're a stonethrower please pass on this post right now. If you're a compassionate, caring, understanding person please visit this blog. A mother that has given her all is making the hardest decision of her life. Maybe you're just the family needed. Maybe you know someone else who might be. Maybe you can offer a kind word of support. Maybe you could send some prayers, supportive thoughts, whatever you believe in.....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More on the flu

The first doctor saw Bob and said she had a virus but not H1N1. Besides the fever, she had no other symptoms, just had a little congestion. They didn’t bother to do the test. When Kitty came down with it she had vomiting which means it could have been H1N1, but what were the odds that she had something totally different from her sister? Since bedrest and fluids was all they recommended for Bob we figured it didn't make sense to take Kitty in. I don't believe in taking kids in for the sniffles, but I decided a fever of 105 could be pretty major.

I took Kitty to the doctor only when she’d had symptoms for more than 4 days and started having difficulty breathing (was congestion). The doctor flipped because unlike her sister, Kitty has asthma. the doctor wanted me to have brought her in within 48 hours of the start of symptoms so they could have treated her. Since it had been longer they didn't bother to do the test.

The good news was her oxygen levels were perfect (I do know enough to bring her in the minute I thought her breathing might be compromised). Kitty’s fever broke the next day. Guess it doesn’t matter anymore if they had the flu or not. They’re finally better.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Flu and filling my love tank

Last Sunday, Bob came down with a virus. Although she had no other symptoms, when her fever hit 105 Monday morning we made an appointment with the doctor. Not H1N1, not the flu, just a virus. Take her home, bedrest and lots of fluids. *sigh* $65 to find out we should keep doing what we're doing. Oh well, better safe than sorry. Wednesday she was fever free so back to school on Thursday.
Last Monday night Kitty came down with a fever, and threw up a few times. Having just heard from the doctor it was just a virus, we kept an eye on Kitty, but assumed it was the same virus. Yes, her fever got up to 105 too.
One of my online friends (Jeri from With Love from Sumy) read my empty love tank post and convinced me I needed to recharge at an upcoming seminar by Advocates for Children of Trauma with Katharine Leslie being the main presenter. I'd been really wanting to go even though it was a several hour drive, but when I realized Grandma would be visiting her sister in New Jersey I had reluctantly declined. My friend convinced me that I didn't have much choice and she was right. I was a burned out mess. She offered to drive, and even arranged for free accomodations.
So I had to make it work. Then the girls got sick. More guilt. But I wasn't doing them much good so I decided to go anyway.
I finally got to meet Mike IRL (in real life) who is one of the main forces behind Advocates for Children of Trauma. He's been a source of support for me for many years. He opened his home to Jeri and I and we even got to meet his sweet dogs!
4 hours there and 4 hours back swapping stories and laughs with Jeri who I was meeting for the first time IRL. Several hours talking to Mike (instead of getting the sleep I needed). That was almost all I needed. Then we went to the seminar and I was blown away.
I came home totally recharged, and with a plan of attack.
Of course I came home to all my life as I left it. It's taken me several days to get caught up. I've filled in Hubby a little about what I learned at the seminar. Warned the kids there was gonna be some changes around here at a family meeting. Gotten a little sleep. Spent 2 1/2 hours taking Kitty to the doctor (and gotten fussed at for not taking her in within the first 48 hours, because of course this doctor thinks both girls had H1N1).
Kitty is doing beautifully and is fever free today (although still tired). Bob is back to her teenage girl self (last night she was cuddly and sweet. Today?! Ooh how I love being cussed at and pushed by my supposedly "neurotypical" biokid!). Bear is not thrilled to be told he will be part of our family (no highway option) - plus he got caught yet again not being where he's supposed to be and doing what he's supposed to be doing, so is suffering the consequences. Ponito is reaping the rewards of being a fully attached, non hormonal, sweet kid, and is spending the night at a friend's house.
So next post I'll start blogging about all that I learned from the amazing Katharine Leslie. If you can't stand the suspense, check out Jeri's blog where she's started posting about it already. I find it amazing how two people can attend the same seminar and leave with totally different messages. So don't worry about seeing the same stuff here that she talks about there.
Gotta get some sleep! Hugs and prayers y'all!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Toddler Tips - biting

I worked in childcare for many years. When we first started talking about adopting, I assumed I'd be adopting at least one toddler/preschooler. Obviously that didn't happen, but I still have all this acquired knowledge gained from training preschool teachers in behavior modification.

Daycare/ preschool teachers have a lot of the same issues as foster parents, like having to balance too many kids with issues (in TX the staff to child ratios are outrageous. You can have 11 two-year-olds with one teacher. 15 3-year-olds and 25 4- and 5-year-olds... add a second teacher and the numbers are even more outrageous.) Of course, teachers also can't spank and around here have to meet what Texas calls Minimum Standards just like foster parents.

I had offered to do a behavior modification training to our adoption agency when our adoption was final, but I think they were just ecstatic to see the back of us. We had so many issues with our kids during the adoption process that the agency couldn't handle.

Developmental/Emotional Age
I do have to say that in a lot of ways my teens are not all that different from toddlers, especially in how we discipline.

Someone asked me for advice on how to deal with a biting two year old, and I put a lot of thought in my answer so I figured I'd share it with you. Like I already mentioned, these discipline methods apply to my kids in a lot of ways - especially when you're looking at their developmental/emotional age, or what happens when they are in "fight, flight or freeze mode."

Toddler Biting

Two is way too young to expect empathy (understanding and caring what other people are feeling). While we can start teaching them to use their words for things like sharing, they won’t understand it yet. Empathy usually begins around age 3.

Toddlers usually bite for one of several reasons:

1. They are having trouble communicating with words. Toddlers often get frustrated because others don’t understand them, so they use their teeth or their fists to get their point across. As their vocabulary increases the violence will decrease.
Response -  Try giving them the words they need. “He took your toy. You’re mad. Say, ‘Give it back, please.’” Sign language can help too.

2. They enjoy the reactions. When they bite, interesting things happen. Adults get all excited, children make cool noises, people run around… It’s like a cool toy that doesn’t need batteries and is always with them.
Response -  It helps to minimize the caregivers reactions – stay calm. Soothing the injured child and ignoring them in the meantime (except to make sure everyone else is safe) often helps.

3. They’re bored. Try to keep them engaged and active, without being over-stimulated.
Response -  Timeouts don’t work well for those under three (although they’re better than spanking) so redirection is one of the best ways to handle negative behavior and avoid it. Another thing that works well is keeping them close to you with things like time ins and shadowing (they're your special helper and stay within reach or holding your hand or pocket).

4. They’re overwhelmed. 
Response - Try to avoid over-stimulating situations -- too many children, too loud, too many toys, high expectations, too much going on... Keep things simple and quiet. Multiples of toys (so they don't fight over a particular one), but maybe only pull out a few toys or one activity at a time.

5. It’s habit.
Response - separating them from other children and remove the opportunity until they learn other things to do.

6. They’re teething – this is a time when molars start coming in. Oral fixation - according to Freud, this is the first psychosexual developmental stage
Response -  Baby teething toys and chewlry, especially ones kept cold are great to redirect the child to – we’ve even kept one on a pacifier string so the child has it with them at all time.

7. HALT - They’re tired, hungry, or sick. Even my children still act out when they are experiencing one or more of these. All you can do is avoid these.

Toddler Discipline Techniques

Some possible solutions:

1. “Biting back” which is sometimes recommended by well-meaning people, may seem to work, but only because they are learning to be afraid of you. It’s like spanking. They don’t learn why not to do something they just learn fear.
2. Timeouts don’t work well for those under three (although they’re better than spanking) so redirection is one of the best ways to handle negative behavior and avoid it. Timeouts don’t have to be sitting in a corner, at this age they can be put in a playpen, crib, high chair, or just separated from the others. Give them toys or books or something to do.
3. We often use “time-ins” where the child must stay near a caregiver at all times until we’re sure they are safe. They benefit from the extra attention too.
4. Redirection is just like it sounds, finding another activity for them to participate in and help them get engaged in it. If children tend to fight over a specific toy(s), having duplicates available is a big help.
5. If kids react to overwhelming situations (restaurants, playgrounds, parties…) with violence - avoid it if at all possible. Try to be proactive and avoid situations you know lead to biting.
6. Lectures don’t work. I recommend limiting your words to one word for year of age. Two year olds, “No Bite!” or “Walking feet.” Three year olds, “Use your words.” or “Feet on floor.” You get the idea.
7. Try to stay positive instead of negative. “Use walking feet” instead of “Don’t run.” “Chairs are for sitting” instead of “Don’t stand on the chair.” “We use our mouth to talk, kiss and eat” instead of “Don’t bite.”
8. Set up situations so you aren’t constantly saying No. Put away things toddlers need to stay away from (like knick knacks, older kid’s toys, white chairs…).

18 is Not the Finish Line

There is so much pressure for us as parents of teens to try to heal our children and get them completely ready for adulthood by age 18. In reading a couple of blogs including Parenting 24/7 recently, I was reminded of this, and I know I am guilty of it too. It took many many years of trauma for our children to get to this point, and we can't expect them to be totally healed in just a few short years.

We want them to have all the life skills they need. We want them to be emotionally healed and ready for relationships. We want them to be ready to be independent. 

Magical Age of Adulthood

For some reason with our children, we tend to feel like this has to be done at the magic age of 18. 

Maybe because my children bluster about walking out the door the minute they turn 18. Maybe because that's when society declares them adults. 

Expiration Date on Parenting

Maybe because I know that, unlike my birth children, they don't trust/expect me to be there after they turn 18 so I feel I have to "fix" them while I can. My biokids fully expect us to continue to be their parents (and adviser, supporter, loan officer, therapist, nanny….) through college, after they get married, and on and on forever.

Did you graduate high school totally ready to be an adult? I know I didn't. Not only does our brain continue to develop on into our mid-twenties, but our hearts grow too. We made so many mistakes that we want to protect our children from. 

I know for me, I want to be the one to help my children heal. That's probably a little selfish on my part.

Their healing must continue on after they leave our home. All we can do is leave the door open.

There is a LOT of pressure to "lighten up" and give our kids the "freedom" to make mistakes, because "he's going to have to deal with the real world soon."

I believe that if we give children privileges and "freedom" that they're not ready for that we are deliberately putting them in harm's way. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not have my children on so short a leash that they can't mess up. I just try to keep them on a short enough leash that they can't hang themselves.

Many people look at our children, especially one who has lots of structure and support (and therefore is emotionally regulated and doing well) and don't/can't see the brain damage, dysfunction, and emotional immaturity. They don't understand the child's diagnosis or diagnoses, or only recognize a small part of the whole  - usually only a part that they're familiar with. [Chores, Responsibilities, and Other Things My Children Can't Handle]

I'm often told, "People with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities can live normal lives" and "p
eople with Bipolar Disorder can live normal lives" and "people with __________ can live normal lives"... Yes, they can! But that doesn't take into account ALL my child's issues. There is a limited understanding of how these diagnoses interact with each other and how they interact with trauma.  [Overlapping Diagnoses in Children]

It doesn't help that kids of trauma hide their "issues" (Kitty would literally rather die than let others see her issues), can honeymoon for long periods of time, and their charming others can be a "life or death feeling" defense mechanism (If You Find Out I'm Not Perfect, You'll Leave).

There is a lot of pressure when our kids are teens to believe that since they are practically an adult, then we need to let them discover that they can't act this way in the "real world." 

Pressure to give them the freedom and privileges that come with being an adult and assume the Natural Consequences of messing up and making poor choices will teach the child to make better choices. They don't get that our kids often don't/ can't make the connection that their choices have consequences or don't have the control needed to keep from making those choices.

Assuming that they get any consequences at all -

What my child learned from not getting consequences from school 


Like many people in Bear's life, Hubby doesn't see, and/ or understand, Bear's brain damage and dysfunction. He thinks the school's testing of Bear's IQ and abilities are wrong (he sees areas where Bear's hypervigilance and street smarts help him accomplish things that someone with Bear's "alleged" issues "shouldn't" be able to do. He thinks Bear deliberately "dumbs down" to make life easier on himself).  He also strongly believes that since Bear is practically an adult, we need to let him discover that he can't act this way in the real world. I think this is like teaching Bear to swim by throwing him in the ocean.

I've tried to explain to Hubby that Bear can't learn by watching everyone else swim. That despite his age and size he needs to go back to the baby pool and get over his fear of water by splashing around. That someone (us) needs to help him form each and every stroke and have him practice, practice, practice. That he may never be able to swim in the ocean and just because he's going to be there soon is no reason to skip steps or not take advantage of the little time left that we have in which we can force him into the baby pool.

I know I've talked before about the differences between Hubby and my child-rearing philosophies. After the Katharine Leslie seminars, this has become even more apparent. Katharine says we must teach, reteach, and have them practice everything. Until the child is ready to become part of the family his or her world should be pretty small (Basic Accommodations vs Luxury) and in relationships, there should be correspondent exchanges vs complementary. This is counter-intuitive in a lot of ways and most definitely is NOT FAIR.

"Fairness" is everyone getting what they need. Fairness is not equal.

Discipline problems (noncompliance, misbehavior) occur when the caregivers have not structured the child's environment for success, or when parents are inconsistent (expectations or consequences), non-responsive, or inaccessible. When adults adjust their behaviors and attitudes, often children with discipline problems can be brought under control in as few as 3 to 7 days.
Behavior problems on the other hand, lie within the child. These are persistent behaviors that do not disappear even with the best parenting (although good parenting can help to control the behaviors). These can include impulsivity, inattentiveness, and other behaviors like ADHD, FAD and immature behaviors associated with missing capacities in object relations.

We need to take into account that children with trauma issues may not be able to learn from mistakes. They may not ask for or accept help or training. One of the biggest issues though is that many of our kids' main difficulty is NOT with something he/she can be taught how to do or not do. The biggest problem is often Impulse Control.

Bear can be walking along doing exactly what he's supposed to do. He can have earned his way up to pretty high levels of privileges. When all of the sudden... WHAM! He gets an impulse to do something he's not supposed to (take something, lie, go somewhere...), and he does it. No amount of behavior modification training, anger management classes, talk therapy, EMDR, good parenting... has any effect. He's not thinking about why he should or shouldn't do something he just does it.

After the impulse, he makes choices. Whether to admit to it, lie, cover it up, manipulate, run away... these choices are the things that all of the therapy and skills training (CBTDBT) and whatever, can actually have an effect on. (Of course, sometimes he also makes conscious decisions to make a "bad" choice too).

So that's the problem. What do you do with someone with almost no impulse control? All the training and therapeutic parenting in the world are not going to "fix" or prevent that.

Cliffs and Fences

When you have a young child who tends to leap before he looks, then you control his environment - you don't remove every obstacle. You make sure he has little things to leap off of so he will learn to look before he leaps. (He learns to look because he discovers that when he doesn't he usually falls and gets hurt). You do NOT, however, move to a house on the side of a cliff. If you must live on a cliff then you put up a big fence and you keep your child inside that fence. If you didn't and your child jumped off the cliff then who is morally responsible for the death of the child? Even if the child deliberately jumped off the cliff, it is, of course, the parent who is responsible for the child

I have a child who is a known leaper. We live in a world full of "cliffs." If I put my son behind the wheel of a car, knowing that at any moment he could choose to turn left without looking, then I am endangering not only his life but the lives of those around him. 

For this reason, I choose not to enable him to get his permit and deliberately put up roadblocks.

We tried EMDR therapy with both of our children for a while. We found it was overwhelming for Kitty and had to drop it. Yes, she needs to process this trauma, but she obviously is not ready for it. Bear just flat refused to participate. This is one of those times when I have to remember that all of their healing does not have to be done right now.

Right now, I have to remember that even after almost three years we still need to focus on attachment and relationships. I read a blog recently mentioning that when you first bring a child into your home, you wouldn't shouldn't be focusing on behaviors like fixing their table manners on day one; instead, you should be focusing on attaching and bonding. Playing, laughing, joking, getting to know each other is more important than rules and reprimands. (Post about Katharine Leslie's views about Securing Attachment)

Now, we do have consequences and restitution, but I try to remember that loving fun is important too. There is a great family blogging about the process of adopting a teen that helps me remember this too.



One thing I hear a lot is that the child plans/ threatens to go back to the birth parents (Why Do Adopted Kids Go Back To Birth Family?) as soon as they are old enough. I try to remember that if they do go back to birthmom they take me with them. They will view their biomom knowing what a different life is like - having someone who cares about them no matter what they do or say, holds them accountable, provides the structure and support they need, and doesn't give up on them.

I never run down the birth parents in front of my child, no matter how tempting.

I know how important it was to me that my mom never put down my dad. Theirs was a bitter divorce and there were lots of times Mom could have presented herself as better to not have to listen to my sister or I rave about our dad. 

Kids love their birth parents no matter what. They're biologically wired that way. We all are.

I'm not totally protecting my daughter from what happened that led to her entering the foster care system, but at the same time, I know it would damage my relationship with her if I told her that biomom was a bad person. So instead we talk about bad choices biomom may have made, and possible reasons she might have acted the way she did. 

Not judging biomom, but at the same time being VERY CLEAR that it was NOT the child's fault either. My kids have enough guilt that I will never be able to touch in the time we have (there I go again sounding like it all ends at 18!). That is something they will hopefully deal with at some point in their lives.


Trauma can cause significant delays in development (emotionally, socially, intellectually...).  Frequent moves and other traumatic life events can also cause delays or even get them stuck.  Most kids with PTSD (and brain damage from RAD) have a tough time with processing, memory, object permanence, emotional regulation... 

We need to parent our children based on where the child IS versus where they “should be.”  When trying to determine your child’s emotional age, and therefore your expectations, it helps to be aware of the typical development stages (Age 6 to young adult developmental stages)

Parent your child where they ARE, even if that means treating a teen like a 6-year-old.  Or a 4-year-old like a toddler.  They may find normal kid stuff overwhelming - we had to keep our children's rooms stripped to the essentials, avoid overwhelming places like grocery stores and birthday parties, and avoid letting them get tired or hungry...  

Once your child physically becomes an older teen or young adult. This becomes a fine line to walk - think tightrope!

I know in high school I changed personalities a lot. I tried them on like roles in a play. I moved a lot (like the kids) which made this easier to do. I thought of myself as a chameleon and didn't think I had a set personality – it changed according to who I was with and what I wanted to do. I do think this eventually made me a stronger person. I wasn't locked into an image or stereotype. As I got older, I grew out of this and finally have a strong, positive sense of self. 


I want to let my children know they can change their minds. They may see themselves as "the tough guy," "the victim," "sweet and loving"… sometimes changing on a minute by minute basis. They may be horrible to me one day and act as though nothing happened an hour later, and that's probably part of their illnesses. Maybe they really don't remember. Maybe they're being manipulative. I'm still going to act as though I know they love me. We will discuss repercussions; there are always consequences for the choices they make. I will not make them say they love me, but at the same time, I will not allow them to be disrespectful.


Bear is going through an "I don't need a family and I'm faking it" phase. While I don't think he is bonded to us, I know he is not completely disconnected either. When he says he doesn't want our family/me/any relationships, it hurts like crazy, but I work hard to keep him from seeing it. I don't want him to feel he succeeded in pushing us away. That's a terrifying unsafe feeling.

Bear did admit in therapy last week that he knew I cared about him (even though he tried to negate it in the next breath by talking about how mean I am). I hope that is enough to get him to return to us in the future. I hope that he builds on this in the future.


I wish I had the perfect answer. I wish the perfect answer existed. Here are some things we did (or wish we had done earlier):

Looking back, I wish I had changed my priorities. I realize now that by focusing all of my attention and energy on a child who may or may not heal enough to function as an adult, I sacrificed too much. Maybe I could have or did "fix" my child, but at what cost? My own health, my marriage, my other children (especially the less "squeaky wheels")... all suffered. [Prioritizing Yourself, Your Marriage, Your Family as a Whole, and Your Child - In That Order!

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. I felt a lot of guilt over not "fixing" my children but also about how devoting everything I had to trying to help them heal hurt all of us. I had major CTS [Continuous Traumatic Stress] and PTSD from it all. [Caregiver/ Compassion Fatigue, PTSD, Secondary PTSDMy other children all had varying issues caused by living with emotionally disturbed, mentally ill family members, or having undetected issues (for example, Ponito's ADD was undiagnosed until he was 17 and there were other signs of illness and abuse that I missed in him and the other children), or feeling neglected/ abandoned because my focus was elsewhere or I was overwhelmed and shut down.

At age 18, my children were not ready to heal or be "fixed." I had several choices. I could feel guilty and miserable about it... or I could release that guilt and anger, knowing that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. No one else was going to give me permission to do that. Almost everyone was telling me what I "should" or "should not" do and oftentimes those things were conflicting!

So here's my permission (not that you need it) to LET IT GO

You Have Not Failed - I reread this post so often, especially over the first 2 years after my son moved out and I realized I didn't want anything to do with him (my abuser). It reminded me to release the guilt that created. What kind of mom doesn't want to be around her child?! One who needs to heal. 

At What Point Do You Let Go?
Detachment Parenting the Adult Child

Self-Care! - Take care of yourself. Remember the things you used to love and love about yourself. Pick up or pick back up hobbies. Do fun and healing things. Go to therapy. You're allowed to be someone besides Mom - you have many names. Daughter, friend, wife, mentor, artist... 

Then what happened?

I Redefined Success. 

Like many moms, success for my children meant college, finding a career they loved and that supported them in a lifestyle similar to what they have now, finding true love, getting married, living near me (but not with me!), having children... preferably in this order!  Basically living "happily ever after." When I realized that this was not the path Bear and Kitty were on, or even capable of, I grieved. A lot. Then I took a deep breath and redefined success for each of my children individually. [Finding the Joy]

My kids are now 26, 24, 23, and 21. I can second guess everything I did and didn't do but overall they healed (or didn't) without me. I definitely had some influence, but the rest had to be left up to them.

Bear(26) has been mostly incarcerated since just before he turned 19. It took me a while but now I realize that he needs this. He can't live without the structure that we could no longer provide. His only choices to get that structure were the military or prison, and he wasn't eligible for the military. I no longer feel guilty about this happening, I choose to recognize that it was our influence on him that meant:

  • He's still alive. This is a major accomplishment. He had a death wish when we met him. Many doubted that he would make it alive to 18. 
  • He went to prison for a non-violent crime. [Jail/ Prison]
  • Years of being on the right medication gave him the chance to develop, learn, and mature. For most of his life, he was living in a "war zone." Long after the trauma and abuse ended, he was still living with it. Stuck with dysfunctional defense mechanisms, negative self-image, and a feeling that the world was against him.
  • He has a high school diploma. He may never be able to keep a job that requires one but at least this gives him options.
  • He has some trust. He occasionally reaches out to us for things other than money. 

Kitty(almost 25) - As she approaches the age when the brain is finally fully developed, Kitty has come a LOOOONNNGG way  - in ways I'd feared she would never be capable of achieving. I helped her a lot to get here but some of it just took time.

Some of our journey:


  • Kitty is living with her fiancĂ© and her 3 cats and they are getting ready to move from their apartment to a rental house. She feels safe. [Safety First]
  • She is taking online classes at the local community college that she registers for all on her own. She's found a way to deal with her crippling anxiety and continue her education.
  • She pays her bills and manages her own money. She calls me for small loans/gifts occasionally and I'm still her SSI rep payee, so I do help her with that, but in general, she's got a handle on it.
  • She is taking care of her own mental health. She is stable on her meds, schedules and attends appointments with her psychiatrist independently, and has a therapist she sees through a Skype-type program.
  • She recognizes and gets emotional support. She calls me often for emotional support but she also has a support system made up of friends and family.

The biokids, Bob(23) and Ponito(21) are mostly on the path I dreamed of for all of my children, but if/when they step off that path that will be OK too.