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!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I quit!

Warning! Cranky vent follows. Feel free to avoid this post.

After a 20 minute call with Hubby regarding what we should do with Bear for "missing" the bus yet again, I could have just strangled Hubby when not 10 minutes later, he told Bear he could stay after school for an "unannounced tutoring session with all his teachers."


My side of our "discussion" had been we needed to come down hard on him for lying/manipulating us to get unsupervised time with his friends. Hubby was saying he didn't see how we could make Bear's life as miserable as being abused so Bear wouldn't care what we did to him.

I do not trust Bear. EVERY time we've given him some freedom, Bear has lied, stolen, or done something illegal (often all 3). I do NOT want him to have unsupervised time. I disagree with Hubby that we cannot make the consequences for this sneaky behavior be "painful" enough to discourage him from doing it again. He actually feels safer when we are supervising him closely.

I let Hubby know that I felt he should have told Bear NO when he asked to stay after school, and cite his behavior YESTERDAY as the reason. Bear needs to know that we know he is lying and that losing our trust does have consequences. I hung up the phone with Hubby just furious at him. And that was the last straw.

Bear's therapist has mentioned several times that Bear has been forcing us to be detectives. To hunt down all his lies as well as pull out his emotions and feelings. The therapist was more focused on getting Bear to open up to us, but he had another point as well.

I spend hours every day dealing with getting the kids what they need. Today alone I spent:
  • 5 minute resenting the fact that Bear didn't take out the trash last night like he is supposed to, so we had to do it last minute while he piddled around after his 45+ minute shower/bath
  • a half hour talking to Transportation about whether or not Bear's bus really was leaving too early.
  • 20 minutes e-mailing back and forth with the principal of his special school about the matter.
  • 1.5 hours dealing with finding him a pediatric kidney specialist (they're called Nephrologists in case you wanted to know).
  • 15 minutes discussing with the psychiatrist's office manager the fact that our insurance still hasn't paid for appointments as far back as 6/08 despite the hours I've spent on the phone trying to fix this. The psychiatrist gave notice that if the insurance didn't pay it we would have to.
  • 3o minutes arguing discussing consequences with Hubby,
  • probably another 2 hours brooding.
  • maybe 20 whole minutes writing my letter of resignation by hand.
  • 30 minutes discussing the days I've spent trying to make the PTSD information Bear's therapist is insisting he read and discuss with us more age appropriate. It's 8 pages long and written at a graduate level (I have a Master's and still don't understand it all). It's been 3 days and I'm only on page 3. My mom has graciously volunteered to try to complete it for me - which is good because it has to be done, read and discussed with Bear by Saturday.
  • 30 minute listening to him ask for privileges like getting to stay late after school and go to football games to do "community service" for ROTC. I was noncommital.
  • 45 minutes at dinner listening to him tease his siblings, talk and joke around. (Not a problem, but I was still fuming and didn't want to be around him. The good news is I think I managed to hide it, mostly).
(This is just Bear by the way, I probably spent equal time on Kitty today).
So I decided to give up the job of Detective and Nurturing Mommy. I'm not sure if I will actually give him my letter of resignation or not. I will probably wait until my hormones calm down or something.
I will no longer be a detective.
I will no longer search you out when you seem upset.
I will no longer search your room, stuff or pockets.
I will not call your teachers or school.
I will not verify your stories or check up on you.
I will not believe you or trust you.
I will not expect you to love or care about me or the family.
I will not go out of my way to help you.
I will not open myself up so you can hurt my feelings.
I will not tolerate disrespect of myself or the family.
I will not be responsible for your feelings.
I will still love you.
I will still listen when you want to talk.
I will still take you to doctor's appointments and give you meds.
I will believe others are telling the truth if there is a disagreement.
I will take care of your basic needs (food, clothes, a place to sleep)
I still expect you to be polite and helpful.
I still expect you to keep all drugs, cigarettes and illegal activities away from our home and if I catch you doing it - I will press charges.
I still expect you to not steal from the family.
Hubby and Grandma think it's too harsh. They're probably right. Still felt good to get it all on paper. Time to go to bed and end this stinky day (to top it off our only car had an $800 breakdown. When I went with Grandma to pick up my purse I'd left at a restaurant on Friday and just now figured out where it was, her car broke down too. Her cell phone battery was dead and the restaurant didn't have a phone we could use. Luckily we were able to talk an office manager in a nearby office building into delaying closing up for a minute while we borrowed their phone. Poppy (Grandma's husband) got her car started so we can borrow it tomorrow).


Bill and Ronni Hall said...

Hi Mary,
I'm thinking you just can't win, so you might as well do what you think is best. Harsh, not harsh enough? I do know that they LOVE punishment (we call them consequences, but they don't get that).
Our little darling decided that she did not want to go to the club meeting we wanted her to attend yesterday morning at school. So she blew it off. Then she wonders why we don't trust her to be where she's supposed to be. I guess we must be mad.

BT said...

You are having a rough time. I'm so sorry. I hate that Bear's so hurt and that it's hurting you so much. Don't forget to breathe.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I get so frustrated by my children's behavior and I ask myself, "where did I go wrong?" "What else could I do?" "How did my mother do it?" and of course the answer is that I wasn't any better at 20 than this kid is, I just have a skewed perspecive/memory.

My go-to tactic is guilt, but then I realize I don't want to guilt them into action, I want them to just do what I want them to do, when I want them to do it. What's so hard about that? (sarcasm) It would just be so much easier for all of us if they would behave and we wouldn't have to parent... but then again, why did I have these kids in the first place?

Didn't my parents just spank me when I was wrong? I don't want to do that...

Right now my 20 y/o sleeps, eats breakfast/lunch here then goes to his friends' house (they live at home w/ their parents) hangs out there all day, comes in after midnight and eats all the leftovers from dinner. Then the cycle starts again. I think he avoids us because every time he's home he gets lectured about everything he's doing/done wrong. I wouldn't want to hang out with people who criticize me all the time, either. DH and I have a hard time biting our toungues and not saying all the negatives that pop into our heads, but I am better at it than DH is. Sometimes I think DS tells us stuff just to get a reaction, any reaction.

I know I was hoping the parenting thing would get easier after they turn 18, but it doesn't. My sister used to say, "Little children, little problems; big children, big problems." I think I understand her better than ever now.

Lisa said...

I don't know your family, but as I read your "I Quit" list, I found myself shaking my head up and down throughout the entire thing. Maybe it's a Mom-thing, but I feel EXACTLY the same way about my 15 yo son right now (and have for about 3 years now unfortunately). I don't think you can have someone living in your home that you have to monitor 24/7 and feel good about it in any way. It almost becomes a game where you are determined not to let them get away with a single thing, while they just get sneakier (and sicker) than ever. My favorite thing with my son is when he bursts through the door after school and exclaims, "My teacher says...." and then proceeds to tell me what I HAVE to do. I have sunk to the level where I have answered him with phrases like, "Well, good thing your teacher isn't MY boss" or "Don't tell me what to do, you aren't my boss" or my favorite, "But I don't want to!!" He doesn't seem to get the irony of the whole situation - he is completely non-compliant with me, yet he thinks I'm going to do what his teacher tells me I should? Puhleeze!! His poor teacher just doesn't have a clue what this child is like for me.

Maybe you could leave the list laying somewhere he could "accidentally" read it and see if you get a reaction?? I have actually told my son many of these exact things from your list and he just says he doesn't care. He, however, hasn't experienced enough pain to change his ways. Good Luck!

Linda B said...

I just wanted to let you know Lisa wrote pretty much what I was going to. Your I Quit list fit me perfectly. Your son is doing what my daughter did. She is 17 and now in residential treatment. Your son is doing a good job of trying to triangulate your husband and you...getting you both on opposite sides. Try not to let him see he has that power. I know it's hard.

Adelaide Dupont said...

This 'cranky vent' was informative on several levels (especially when I worked out on Wolfram Alpha that you spent FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE MINUTES on Bear alone: seven hours, people!). I'm sure it must have been a catharsis for you and an eye-opener to the rest of the family system.

When I saw Lisa's idea of a list, I thought, 'great. But perhaps a little too left-brained [for Bear]'. And I thought of designing these relatable posters. They are in the style of Demotivators posters, and I sort of got the idea from Jeri (most powerful meme this one).

I know you have some expertise in desktop publishing and design.

I will no longer search your room, stuff or pockets.
I will no longer search you out when you seem upset.
I will no longer be a detective.

You could put the posters everywhere, or fade them in and out as needed. Put them in some quirky places, or relevant places like the lounge room.

Good for Granny to do the condensing of the PTSD material for you. She didn't have to do that.

Have been reading lots about the Drama Triangle, and applying it to my knowledge and understanding of anxiety disorders and dynamics thereof.

Anonymous said...

My eldest, now 21, was Bear's kind of more-than-a-handful. He has asked me, "Mom, why didn't you MAKE me stay home? Do you know that your letting me go out / stay out made me feel like you didn't love me?"
I can't imagine he read that in a book (although I have). It echos to the unloved I felt when I was the only kid without a curfew.
My only reason for him was that I could not physically force him. He was great at arguing, getting mad, pushing my buttons, even violence against property.
Sometimes there are no right answers, but sometimes kids really do want to get caught and forced to stay at home. It is a way to get proof that they are loved.