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

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Fish

At RTC, one of her do-gooder teachers thought it would be brilliant to boost the self-esteem of his charges by giving them the opportunity to earn a fish by working hard in the classroom. Betta Fish, hardy little buggers, don't need much space, cost a few bucks, done.

Except when you've put a RADish to the task.

In the classroom at the RTC, students that earned a fish then went on to earn points which translated into dollars to purchase things for their fish. Cool rocks, aquarium sculptures, bigger bowls, etc. Part of the weekly classroom routine included fish maintenance, stressing responsibility and pride of caring for something other than oneself.

Sissy named her fish Felix after the old cartoon character, Felix the CAT. Yes, yes, I know the irony. We've discussed it with her. It was lost on her. All she said was, "huh? i don't get it" *shake head in dismay*

At RTC, Felix was well cared for, largely owing to the classroom routine of caring for her fish. At discharge, the fish instructions were discussed with her and with me in a family therapy session. As the parent, I was given the opportunity to disallow Sissy to take her fish home. Seriously? What parent says no to a fish, even RAD parents? It's a FISH for crying out loud and she had EARNED it, right? RIGHT?!? (oh what tangled webs we weave)

Once I agreed to let Sissy take home her fish, I was counseled to continue the classroom setting in which the fish would be solely SISSY'S responsibility, that I was not to take on any part of fish maintenance or care. Sissy, in turn, was reminded that this was HER fish. She was given the choice to leave her fish behind to become a classroom pet but she opted to keep him even after agreeing to the rules of fish ownership, responsibility and care.

Boy. What a bane of our existence this little fish has become! I have rescued the poor thing twice. Literally, saved him from certain death. Once from the elbow in the drain of the bathroom sink because Sissy forgot to stopper the sink and down down down went the fish. And once from the bedroom floor since she dropped his tank while carrying it back to her space, dumping putrid, foul, vomitous-smelling fish water everywhere. (remember, her bedroom is in my LIVING ROOM. gag) Said to her in frustration and exhaustion with the issue, "Sissy, if I have to save your fish from you once more, I won't. Period."

After she dropped the tank, she was about to throw away the aquarium ornament she'd also purchased (it cost more than the tank)[1]. It had not broken in the fall so I was puzzled. "Sissy, why are you going to throw that away? It's fine."

Her reply, "I'm bored with it."

"Uh... we don't work hard to purchase things so we can throw it away two weeks later because we're bored". Hot air wasted, I know. I know, I know, I know! *sigh* I'm talking to a wall but I'm the mom, I HAVE to say these things. It's my job. The real reason Sissy was bored? Because she bought some ceramic cartoonish shark thingie and she was mad that Felix didn't want to swim into its mouth to sleep at night.

[aside]Sometimes, I think to myself after writing a sentence like that my readers are going to think I'm looney, that I'm making this crap up except I'm not. Which makes me either want to bawl my eyes out or laugh until I pee myself. Not quite sure which. I'll get back to you on that.

Really, this fish has been ... more than my RADish can tend to. I love her, I love the idea this teacher had but honestly, it's not for all families. It's certainly not something that Sissy was ready to take on and she was honest about it tonight. Apparently, after all that rescuing, Sissy has still not learned that the fish tank needs to be cleaned weekly and now the fish has Ick. Sissy tearfully announced that if she knew this was how it was going to be to take care of a fish, she would have never agreed to it.

Honest words, yes. But really. A FISH!?!? The poor dear doesn't have the desire to take care of a fish, the responsibility is so overwhelming in her mind, that she would rather not have it at all?!? Wonder Girl is chomping at the bit to take care of the dern thing. Sobbed and sobbed two weeks ago when Sissy almost killed it a second time. Sissy was really only upset that that tank broke (she'd saved for six weeks to buy a special tank for it.[2]) And after all that, two near death experiences for the beautiful red betta, Sissy STILL hasn't clued in that it needs food daily and a clean tank weekly. I have half a mind to call up the RTC and chew out the teacher, not that it's his fault but because SOMEONE ought to be responsible for bringing one more reason for angst into our life.

Nancy Thomas' words are ringing in my ears. She says it plainly. If your RADish isn't ready to take care of a fish, then they are not ready to be alone with ANY pets, let alone humans. Well said Nancy and thanks for the reminder. Let's hope Felix meets a peaceful demise. I'm sad to admit that I've contemplated taking matters into my own hands by "eliminating" the fish conundrum and similarly cursed myself for saving it a second time. I'm not joking. If I have to rescue that fish from Sissy a third time, I won't. And I might just go and buy one for WG besides. Yes, that's mean. But WG shouldn't be penalized for being capable just because Sissy isn't. And WG really wants that fish. She's got more worry for its welfare in one day than Sissy has had for it in the 12 weeks she's been home.

Curses you ridiculously named Felix the Fish and the RADS that prevents my 10 year old from keeping you healthy, happy and whole!

[1] How, you ask, did Sissy earn all this money? Quite simple. Her first IFI team thought payment for hygiene would be an effective behavior mod program. yes, yes, you're laughing at me. Snorting your coffee all over your computer screens. Let me hand you some wipes and then I'll explain. I TOLD her IFI team that behavior mod doesn't work on RADS. Told them that Sissy would only keep up her hygiene for as long as she needed to earn money. Once she bought what she wanted, she's stop and be stinky, smelly and whiney when I reminded her to do her hygiene. But all powerful IFI team asked me to try anyway. I smiled glibly. And waited for events to prove me right, again. Because I am. Right, that is, but professionals think mommies are daft idiots raised on isolated islands, far from education, reason and sense. It's just easier to agree with them that I'm an idiot than it is to convince them otherwise. Besides, Sissy always does that for me. (I wish she wouldn't)

the tank Sissy saved for. It's for 2 fish. But Sissy only has one fish. But this is the tank she wanted and no amount of suggesting she make a different selection would convince her. So for one fish, she bought a tank for 2. I know, I know. I'm trying to explain logical things to RADS which is by nature, ILLOGICAL. My folly, again.


Janera said...

Ok, I saw that one coming. Who wouldn't? I have to admit to being a teacher (we're not all clueless all the time! lol), and I have to admit I love the fish idea. At school.

Sending it home? Sounds like setting up the kid to fail. Young teacher, I'm guessing.

FosterAbba said...

We went through a similar problem with our kid and a hamster. The hamster came with her when she was placed with us, and we didn't have the heart to tell the social worker she couldn't bring it, even though FosterEema was allergic to it.

We figured ONE LITTLE HAMSTER couldn't cause much in the way of trouble. It sure did, and ultimately Danielle decided to give it away than take care of it. She'd let the poor animal starve, forget to give him water, and argue about cleaning his cage no matter how bad it made the entire house smell.

I felt bad for the tiny creature, because it just suffered in silence until I put my foot down. Danielle was given a choice of taking care of the critter or I would find it a new home.

It found a new home.

At least parrots are big enough and vocal enough that they'll tell me if Danielle hasn't properly tended to their care when asked. The birds complain LOUDLY if their food bowls are empty or their water dishes are dry. Also, the fact that they spend most of the time in the living room, and that they are not solely Danielle's responsibility helps.

It also helps that they are big enough to bite, HARD, if Danielle doesn't treat them with the proper respect.

Jules said...

I agree with you and I hope no one takes this the wrong way but I honestly believe RAD kids should not have pets or have access to animals. Period.