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

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to Triangulate

Here is the most recent example Sissy presented us with of how she might try to triangulate her parents (doesn't ever work. The Dad and I talk to each other. Imagine that.)

House Rules
sissy is well aware of this rule and tries very, very hard to pretend that she's forgotten it or to make us all miserable because she just flat out doesn't like it
On non-school days in which there is no early doctor's appointments to attend, the children are to stay in bed until 8:00 a.m. Should they wake early, they must try to go back to sleep. If they can not sleep, they are to lay quietly until 8:00.

Rationale for the rule
The Dad and I got tired of waking up at 6 am to little chirpy voices demanding stuff from us. Besides, our challenged kids need more sleep than the average bear. And if it can't be sleep, then it should at least be rest. For EVERY household member, moms and dads especially.

What about reading?
Staying up late to read is an earned privilege. Reading in the morning is fine too, but not before 8:00. Again, we want to stress the NEED FOR REST/SLEEP.

Sissy strikes again
the house is only 1200 square feet. If one of us farts in the bathroom, we all hear it, no matter what room we're in. So there's no keeping secrets. Sissy apparently hasn't caught on yet

I was in Aspie Boy's room which is directly across the narrow hall from my bedroom. Sissy was talking to The Dad about having the privilege to read in the morning.

"Dad? Can I read when I wake up?"

The clever Dad says, "How will you read in the dark?"

Sissy quipped, "I'll turn on the light."

Astute Dad said, "Not before 8, right?" Sissy hedged. "What's the rule?" he asked, not because he didn't know but because he wanted Sissy to say it. She whined. "I don't remember." I couldn't hear it but I'm sure he made the yeah right and I'm a purple alien from outer space face. So The Dad sent her to me for reinforcement of the rule.

(Remember, I've heard this entire exchange between Sissy and The Dad.)

Sissy takes the three steps from my bedroom into Aspie Boy's room."Mom?" she started. "uh, um ... Dad told me to ask you if it's alright with you if I can uh, read if I uh, if I um, if I wakeupafter8andyouhaven'tgottenupyet."

I just stared at her.

"seriously! That's what he told me to ask!"

The Dad called across the hallway, "Wrong. That is NOT what I sent you to ask your mother."


I just sighed. "Sissy. Why do you do it?"

More screaming perforated by gasps of barely coherent phrases of "I didn't know! I didn't lie! Honest! It's what I meant to say! Really! Seriously!"

Caught in her manipulation, she back pedaled harder and faster than a triathlete with more vehemence than an abominable snowman. "It didn't know what I was saying! I don't remember the rule! Honest! I didn't know what Dad meant! I didn't mean to lie! It's not my fault!" etc. etc. etc.

We didn't fall prey. She does this every time she lies. She fights tooth and nail to the death with her lies. She is unwilling to concede that she tried, one more time, to play us for fools. The kicker? We don't punish her for lying. What's the point? She'd be punished for a lifetime if we did. Nope. We let the absence of our trust speak for itself. It's punishment enough. So why keep lying? Why keep trying to manipulate? When she's regulated, she immediately admits what she did and said. Cognitively knows and understands exactly why and what and who and where. But she will go into a blind fury the instant she's confronted with the truth.

One day, her manipulations and lies will be over something much bigger than a ridiculous house rule about when to wake and when to read. One day, her lies and manipulations will cost her the trust of powers much higher than parents. One day, she'll be faced with a consequence that matches her offense.

I don't know how to help her see this image of her future in my magic crystal ball. I feel powerless to change the course of events that I know will inevitably play out in Sissy's life. I'm also increasingly concerned for her physical welfare when she goes into these blind rages. Several times in the last few weeks I've been alarmed that she will hurt herself enough to require medical attention, specifically, for a broken bone or for stitches. She is not particular about what she pounds her fists on or how hard. And all for a ridiculous book to read before she's supposed to be awake.

And seriously, if she was any other kid, I'd make a concession if it was that important to her. But it's NOT. That's the kick in the pants. It's just something she was using to try to bait us. In all probability, she'll sleep way past 8. But if we gave in just a smidge and said, "sure, for this one time, we'll let you break the rule." She'd wake up at 4 am and read until 8 and claim that she was "allowed to" because "we said she could." Or she'd try to do it some other night, waking up in the middle of the night to read and saying she was allowed to because we didn't specifically say the words, "only on April 25th, 2010."

She's done it before so I'm not making it up or making a bigger deal out of it than necessary. Literally. She's been up at 4 am with the light on, screaming at me that i told her she could read whenever she wakes up. And my child thinks that means she can wake up at 4 am to read. Therefore it means The Dad and I have to be extremely specific about how and when she can break a rule. So it's just easier to say "no. we're not breaking any rules. not even so you can read a book"

It just wears me out. It tries my patience. I'm exasperated, exhausted, pulverized by her crap. I can't out wit, out last, or out play her 24/7 ad infinitum. I just can't.


Tammy said...

I so understand :o)

Mama Drama Times Two said...

It is like living with a team of lawyers - you have to be soooooooo careful of how you say everything! You must ask the right question. Our kids can be such literal sticklers: I wasn't reading, I was just looking at the pictures.

waldenbunch said...

Oh, the word manipulations and lies. Mama Drama is right. It is like living with a lawyer, except they're lawyering us to death! And I'm so burned out I can't remember what I said anyway. I give up! Gosh, the things B pulled over on us those first few years. I was an idiot! By the end I realized she was stealing my notes, my money, my pictures, my projects, anything to drive me crazy. It is so isolating this life we lead.