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, 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*


Jeri said...

You have handled it so well! The phrase fight,flight or freeze is so apt to what our kids do when they feel conflicted. Funny how what is seemingly a small thing can lead to getting to the bigger issue with proximity.

Glad to see the fever is over at your house.

Mom 4 Kids said...

You related this so well and I agree with what Jeri said that you handled it so well. Thanks for sharing this!