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

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mommies of the NTs

NT or neurotypical children, a term I use loosely to define those children that do not require above or beyond the regular childcare necessities of life. Children without impairments or impediments, children that are content to bounce through life quite contentedly, without daily doses of chemicals. Children that don't need more than food, shelter, love, clothing and an education and for the most part, are content with those five things.

WG is an NT. I have to admit that The Dad and I had some difficulties at first, parenting her. Even as an infant, she threw us for a few loops because she actually hit her developmental milestones when the doctors said she should. After parenting two challenged children, we had to relearn parenting an NT. It's been a challenge all of it's own. So I'm not discounting the daily challenges of mommies of NTs. I'm just saying, it is considerably less cumbersome and I have yet, in nearly six years of WGs life, to go to bed in tears over how I might be a better parent to her. Or worse yet, fearing that if I sleep, I'm vulnerable to WG.

Thus, probably the most challenging aspect of parenting challenging kids, is the mommy that only has NTs. I really WANT to be friends with my peers, don't mistake me. I grieve that my life has taken this unalterable course that has steered me so far away from relating to my chronological peers. And I've tried, as I'm sure many of my RAD mommy friends can attest to, to make those relationships work but when the NT mommies can't understand insanity, well, it becomes one more thing in your life you have to walk away from. It just hurts too gosh dern much to be told, "But, my child does that too. It's [and this is the part that makes me wince and shout in my head, "no! Don't say it! Please, don't say the 'n' word but it'll be too late] just normal kids stuff."

no. no she didn't just say the 'n' word! Crap. Now I'm gonna have to ... what? What CAN I do?

I've got some funny remedies.

Conversation number 1
NT mom: "When your daughter is here, she's just fine. She's so sweet and helpful."
RAD mom: "Great! When can she come back?" *opening day planner, pen waving above a blank week* "Next Monday work for you? 4:00? Because I haven't had my nails done in six years because she gives me so much grief when I take her. I'd just recommend that you purchase a tabletop safe and put all of your valuables in it before 3:30 when i drop her off."

Conversation number 2
NT mom: "Gosh, you look so tired!"
RAD mom: "Yeah, my daughter had us up late, screaming at the top of her lungs about not wanting to wipe her bottom after making a BM. It was horrible. We had to call the IFI team."
NT mom: "Oh yeah, my daughter hates wiping her bum. I just do it for her. All kids are like that at this age."
RAD mom: "Oh. you seem to have a good approach to this. Can you watch the video footage we made and help us decipher what is going on here?" *setting up video camera*
NT mom: "oh my." as her face is ashen when she hears the primal rage. "does ... does she do that often?"
RAD mom: "Oh sure, about five times a day. Would you like to see another?"
*NT mom leaves in a hurry, something about an appointment she just remembered she forgot*

Conversation Number 3
NT mom 1: "Oh, I'd NEVER give my child medications! how horrible! There are plenty of wholistic approaches."
NT mom 2: "Yeah, besides, everyone knows that these doctors are just fudging the diagnoses on purpose because the teachers want the kids doped up on meds because they don't know how to control their classrooms unless they're all in a stupor."
RAD mom: "Sorry gals, i have to leave, CVS just called my voicemail. All of my kids meds are ready for pick up."
NT mom 1: "You give your kids meds?!"
RAD mom: "Do you hear my child screaming?"
NT mom 2: "no."
RAD mom: "that silence is called, 'resperidol' Bye ladies!"

Conversation number 4
NT mom: "why don't you have your daughter join the cheerleading team for upwards football? The girls have so much fun."
RAD mom: "No time."
NT mom: "oh, come on. It's only an hour of practice a week and a two our game on Saturdays. We can car pool."
RAD mom: "Hippotherapy, family therapy, respite, therapeutic leaves, physical therapy, occupational therapy, aqua therapy, support group for RAD moms ... nope. My schedule is booked up."
NT mom: "Do you really have to do all of that?"
RAD mom: "Do you hear my child screaming?"
NT mom: "no."
RAD mom: "That silence is called DBT skills, the ACCEPTS model, actually."

Conversation number 5
NT mom: "you never invite us to your house."
RAD mom: "My daughter's bedroom is in the living room. It makes it hard to entertain guests."

Conversation number 6
NT mom: "what did you say is wrong with your daughter again?"
RAD mom: *calling them off quickly, "ADHD, RAD, ODD, BPI, PDD-NOS ..."
NT mom: *interupting* "What? Huh? Why are you saying letters when I asked you what was wrong with your daughter?"
RAD mom: "I wasn't done. Shall I continue?"
NT mom: "more letters?"
RAD mom: "Yup."
NT mom: "I'll pass."

Conversation number 7
NT mom: "Why do you have so many business cards in your purse?"
RAD mom: "because between my two challenged kids, I have to keep track of 9 doctors plus their therapists"
NT mom: "Well, we just use our family doctor. He can do everything for us. Dr. G. He's great. You should give him a call, save yourself some hassle."
RAD mom: "GPs can't prescribe anti psychotics or anti convulsants."
NT mom: "Anti whats?"

Conversation number 8
NT mom: "I don't understand. She doesn't look like there's anything wrong with her."
RAD mom: "Try saying that to a type one diabetic. Let me know how that works out for you."

Conversation number 9
NT mom: "all of these behaviors you say you have with your daughter, I have with mine. It's never been a problem for us. We don't need all of these doctors or meds."
RAD mom: "Oh, what a relief. Maybe you can help us. Which parenting style are you using? Behavior modification? CBT? DBT? Love and Logic? ACTs? Positive reinforcement models? Conditioning? RAD/trauma therapy? Gregory Keck's stuff? Katherine Leslie? Nancy Thomas? A combination of them?"
NT mom: "uh ... we just spank her or take her stuff away."
RAD mom: "try doing that to a RAD kid. Let me know how that works out for you."

Conversation number 10
NT mom: "how can this really all be from her infancy? She can't remember any of that stuff, she was just a baby. You've had her for nine years. It's all just normal kid stuff!"
RAD mom: "you know what? you're right. All the doctors and therapists are wrong. All the books are wrong. I'm over thinking it. She doesn't need meds. She's just a normal kid. She can't remember any of the trauma. What was I thinking? Here. You take her for a weekend. My husband and I haven't had a weekend away in four years because it's been so traumatic at home. We could really use a break."

Then, quickly, pack your bags, sign a brief medical waiver in case your RADish is injured while you're gone, pack the meds and the instructions but know that the NT mom will likely forget to dose them and if she does, will think your regimented 7 am/7pm schedule is ridiculous because it doesn't really matter, it's just medication and leave. HURRY! Jump on the first plane and buy a one way ticket to who cares where and fly the *bleep* away, preferably to a place where you have no cell signal. Then laugh. Laugh until you pee on yourself. Because it won't take long for the NT mom to realize that the RADish is indeed challenged, does indeed need his meds, really is insane because of the trauma from his infancy and she'll be crying inside of a week and reporting you to child services for abandoning your child and telling them all kinds of horrible things about you because what kind of parent runs out on their kid but "oh how this brute screams and I can't take it anymore!" she'll say. But you'll be far, far away, laughing so very hard. Then return with some RADical tale of pure fabrication about how you couldn't return home because the runway was run amuck with wild geese in their annual mating rituals so you can be absolved of your abandonment charge. Then pick up your RADish after a very long respite and look the NT mom squarely in the eye, "So, how was she? Still a sweet, charming little child that didn't look like she was challenged since her infancy due to her trauma?" but duck, because the NT mom will likely be wielding a giant frying pan to beat you over the head with and your RADish will be taking aim at your shins.


Diana said...

"It's just normal kid stuff. You guys just need to chill out!"

"Wow! I am so honored...and I'm beyond excited, too! I've never had anyone volunteer to watch my kids for a whole 3 weeks! I'm running home to book my tickets to Hawaii right now. You are such a doll! How could I ever thank you for this generous gift?"

Option 2 (one I do use often IRL, actually.)
"This is just kid stuff. My kid used to do that too. Look at them, they turned out just fine. Yours will outgrow it and be just fine, too."

"Children don't outgrow trauma. They don't just forget about it, either. Trauma leaves deep scars, some of which will last a life time. Trauma very literally changes their physiological brain function. They may 'look' fine on the outside, and you may want them to be 'fine', but they aren't. They are extremely fragile on the inside. They won't outgrow it and they won't forget about the trauma, but they are still amazing kids. They CAN and they DO and my kids ARE out-healing it. God bless you for your concern. Please keep our family in your prayers. We need them."

Option 3 (another one I use IRL quite often):

"Oh, this is just normal kid stuff!"

"What? You don't get what I just said? My friend, get down on your knees right here and right now and thank God that you don't! I wouldn't wish this on anyone...not even an enemy! Have a nice day!"

GB's Mom said...

I guess I am blessed not to be the mother of an NT kid- at least I don't have to watch out for my peers flinging pans!

Bren said...

Oh I have had a couple of those conversations myself, but most of them were new to me! What a fun post. We have to laugh or we will cry!

Mama Drama Times Two said...

OMG Jennie!!! If it wasn't all so true it would be hysterical! I also find comfort with other child-challeneged Moms...the Moms like us that truly get the craziness and embrace it as normal. At one of my recent Adoption Support Group meetings the Moms were all comparing personal stories which of the several hospitals in the area had the best adolescent psych wards....much like other Moms might compare TJ MAXX and MARSHALLS....

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

*snort* LOL!

FosterAbba said...

The one I hate more than anything:

I just can't believe that Danielle would do the things you say she does. She's just so pleasant when [at school/visiting friends/out in public]. She would never [tantrum for hours/hit her parents/threaten to kill the pets]!

When I hear that, I want to stab myself 30 times with a titanium spork.

Lisa said...

One thing i started pointing out when people told me, "all kids do that" was, "Yes, all kids make mistakes and all kids do something once in a blue moon where you shake your head and wonder what they were thinking. About every six months or so, you want to kill them for some smart-aleck remark or act of defiance they pull. HOWEVER, my kids do insane things many, many times per day - EVERY DAY - day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. They don't learn from their mistakes, they repeat the same mistakes over and over again, expecting a different result (the very definition of insanity)."

Come on people - wake up. Why in the world would we want these things to be true? Why would we lie about these often embarrassing moments with our kids? My youngest is 6 1/2 and NT - his whole infancy and toddlerhood we thought the kid was a freakin' genius and come to find out he's just exceptionally N---al. Smart, funny, compassionate, a deep thinker, insightful and independent. He's surpassed the abilities of some of his much older siblings by leaps and bounds already (well, since he was 3 we've been noticing how much more mature he is than some of the older kids are). NT are a blessing, not to be taken for granted or shortchanged due to their siblings incredible demands on attention and family resources (yeah, easier said than done).