On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Friday, March 12, 2010


well, since our behavior plan specifically says that lying and screaming causes automatic revocation of points for that time period and because Sissy has lied out the wazoo and screamed her pretty little head off four times this week ...

she's going to be on RED level come Sunday.

And she's going to be furious about it.

Oh well.

I've already called the IFI team, not to manage a crisis but to give them a heads up. After they leave, she melts down. So I recommended we do a "cool down" session with me or dad or both before they walk out the door after every visit.

Today Sissy's meltdown was over her lying (AGAIN - will there ever be an end to this ridiculousness?) I called her on it, she lied more. I sent her to her space. She screamed her pretty little head off, chucked things, fumed, then screamed that she wasn't screaming (that part was funny) and generally made a royal @ss of herself. I reminded her, just like during yesterday's melt down, that her 20 minute timeout timer didn't start until she was quiet. More screaming. (Did I mention that I haven't missed the mayhem?)

When I saw she wasn't going to make an attempt to use her coping skills or settle herself down anytime soon, I tried a different tactic. Her curtains were drawn and of course, there's no door and when her lamp is on the curtains are translucent so she can see me coming but I pretended. "Knock, knock. Can I come in?"

"GRRRR!" Long pause followed by a feeble and reluctant, "yes."

I sat down on her bed. "You're mad because you lied and I caught you."

"No!" Followed by more defending of her first lie with bigger, more elaborate lies.

"No, Sissy. You lied."

More of the same from her.

"Sissy, you can admit the lie and move on, or you can keep screaming. Your points for the evening are gone and now, according to our agreement, you'll also have to make it up to your family for making us miserable with all of your screaming." That got her goat and in her utter exasperation, she attempted another lie that in fact, was the truth.

"THANK YOU! you finally said the truth! I know that was hard for you."

More grunting and growling and fists punching herself.

"It must really hurt your heart to have to lie so much and keep making bigger and bigger lies to cover up the first lie."

She quieted and nodded feebly.

"It makes your heart feel better to just tell the truth, doesn't it?"

More nodding, then she reached for a hug. I embraced her and said, "Please don't keep lying, it hurts my heart too. The truth is so much easier."

When she released the hug I said, "So... you have to make it up to me, at least, for having to hear all of that screaming."

Her eyes glowered but I ignored it. "How about dishes? Dusting? Drawing a pretty picture for me? Brushing my hair?" I got staccato head shaking to all of my ideas. But she ventured one.

"What if I play a game with you?"

"Hmmm... that might work."


"ummm.... ok!"

We played for 30 minutes and I won but she didn't get mad. She even let me give her some strategy pointers during the game without rebuffing me. We didn't talk much, didn't even make eye contact, but we were sitting on the sofa together, playing a game. And she didn't have another issue for the rest of the night. I'd call this progress!

Here's the thing. What set her off to begin with was that she wanted someone to play with her. But the four of us have gotten pretty set in our routine on Friday afternoons. We're all spent from a long week so we go our separate ways until supper for an unspoken cool down time. This unnerved her. I tried to redirect her back to her space and to many quiet time activities like the rest of us but it only made her pace and whine more. When she saw that Wonder Girl had successfully completed her chore so she could watch her National Geographic movie in her room (a very rare treat!), Sissy was undone. Her lying and manipulation game ensued and although it was negative attention, she still got the attention she was seeking.

I knew all of this when I "knocked" on her door to discuss her lying and her tantrum. She knew it too. She just needed to know it was safe to express it.

Now, if we do this charade another 1000x, do you think she'll have it? It wears me out! Thankfully the other two were happy doing their own cool down time but guess who didn't get hers? Mom.

It's not that I CAN'T help Sissy through these events, or that I WON'T. It's that these events occur so often and take so long, it's that I have two other children, one with very challenging needs that are diametrically opposed to Sissy's, it's that I have a spouse, a business to run, bills, chores, a household to manage, a life, and whether I like it or not, only enough physical energy and strength to muscle through 16 of the 24 hours in a day. It's that I have no reliable respite, it's that the IFI team looks to be only interested in continuing the therapy Sissy got at RTC and not really helping the whole family, it's that there's no end in sight and only a marginal hope that after 1000 SUCCESSFUL events like today MIGHT produce a Sissy that can navigate life without ongoing therapeutic parenting. (And that's not counting the 10,000 UNSUCCESSFUL events we had to get through to have 1000 successful ones)

My IRL friend, C~s mom, is taking her off our hands for a few hours. This is a rare treat. A RAD mom herself, providing respite for me is personal sacrifice to her. But I'm awfully glad she asked. Aspie Boy is trying out a time released version of his med and we have to titrate to the appropriate dosage, starting at the lowest level. So in addition to Sissy, I have Aspie Boy's needs. And The Dad has been ill still. And my back is not recovered (likely owing to making up for The Dad being down for the count while transitioning back to a family of five AND working - today's job was a brute). Massive headache? check. Massive backache? check. weary, exhausted mom that just wants to ball her eyes out into a giant margarita? check.

Pray for me. I announce Sissy's level on Sunday. And she's not going to be happy. at all.


GB's Mom said...

I am praying for you. I wish I was close enough to help and to offer a hug. I am sorry the week was so tough. I am glad you and sissy played Battle Ship.

Bee Burg said...

I don't even know what to say! It makes me sad and, although it is different, it makes me think about my own issues with my daughter which are always the same too. ((((HUGS!)))) Hope the week-end will bring some rest for you. <3

Little Wonder said...

YOU ARE A GREAT MOM!!!!! Yes, I just shouted. Hang in there...what you are doing IS making a difference!

J. said...

She may be on red but you showed her that she could make it right and that life goes on and that is brillant. Way to rock it Mama.

Linda B said...

That takes such strength to handle the situation like you did! How exhausting when you are already at the end of your rope. I can just feel it. I'm curious about the levels being announced once a week. Two of my kids wouldn't remember what they did earlier in the week and would argue about it. Another would be aware of it when it happened and then let the rest of the week go because it was already 'ruined'. Is Sissy able to go a week and really get it? Please know I am not judging how you are doing things...just very curious how it works! Thanks for sharing and hope your weekend goes smoothly!