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

Sunday, June 6, 2010


The adoption post is coming, it's half written. It's just harder to do than I thought. Wonder Girl's journey to our arms was tough so it's been emotionally difficult to put to words.

In the meantime, I bring you PAYBACKS

Of course, Sissy paid us back for all the fun in the sun. A royal butthead. Beavis style. WHY does she do this? I mean, I know why, I understand all the RADspeak about it. It just still really drives me batty. Why, why, why?

For some reason, Sissy loathes hand washing. I have never figured out why. This issue of hers requires that we follow behind her after toileting to inquire about her hand washing. Of course, she lies. Right? duh. If you ask a pathological liar a question, they are going to lie in the answer. *smacks forehead* So we have modified our approach. "Sissy, wash your hands."

"I did!"

"use soap this time."


or it might go like this: "Sissy, wash your hands with SOAP and water"

*grunting response*

Or my personal favorite: "Sissy, wash your hands."

"I did!"

"And in the event that's a lie, go REALLY wash your hands." It's funny because she ALWAYS turns around and walks back to the bathroom.

So it's a given, she won't wash with soap and water unless we instruct her to.

Cue this morning's scenario. She had a great day at the beach, ate a full meal, took a bath and sacked out. Woke up on the RAD side of the bed. Used the bathroom, we began our hand washing debate and exasperated because I'd only been up for a little while said, "Sissy, stop lying, go wash your hands with soap and water."

Scream, moan, stomp, disrespectful, ugly faces, lying ... crap.

"sissy, just do it, it's not that big a deal"

More of the same. The Dad intervened and announced to Sissy as he stood over her at the sink, "The consequence will be that for the rest of the week, you will be supervised while you wash your hands" And Sissy finally did it correctly.

Skip ahead a few hours. The girls and I were in a public restroom. Sissy went in one stall and I went in the other with WG (she's afraid of the automatic flushers.) I used the opportunity to be behind a door so I could spy on Sissy as she approached the sink. She stuck just her right hand under the water for a count of about two seconds and then reached for the lever to release the paper towels. I interrupted her mid-pull.


"Huh?" She spun around and saw me peeking from behind the stall door.

"I was sneaky. I spied on you" I sung in a teasing, sing-songy way. "You need to use soap."

Screaming, wailing, gnashing of teeth, hollering, lying, all of the above.

"Sissy, just use the soap and wash correctly."

She stopped and did as I bade but mostly because by then, WG was finished and was at the sink too, washing her hands properly. What big sister wants to be outdone by the kid sister? None that I know of.

We got to the van. The Dad inquired how it went, I explained that Sissy had to be reminded to use soap and instantly, the van was filled with screaming, wailing, gnashing of teeth, hollering, lying, being disrespectful, making a royal fuss all from the backseat; eruptions from Sissy's mouth.

When she finally settled down and we were on our way I said, "Sissy, we don't get mad and jump down your throat when you do these ridiculous lies. We simply remind you that truth is better. Every time you lie and then insist that you were telling the truth, it destroys our trust." I waited to see if I still had her attention. I did so I went on.

"Sissy, the road to truth is easy, straight, fun and quick. What's more, Mom and Dad are at the other end jumping up and down shouting, 'Sissy! come down this road, this is the one you should take! Don't lie, we're right here to hug you and kiss you and love you!' The lying road is full of snakes and scorpions and spiders and bugs and cobwebs and thickets and briars and thorns and all kinds of horrible things that can hurt you. You always go down that one. Why?"

She started to cry and whimpered, "I don't know"

"I don't know why either. Because Dad and I are on the truth road, rooting for you, your very own cheerleading section, ready to hug and kiss you all over for telling the truth. But you'd rather get bitten by bugs and stung by scorpions." She nodded, not because it's what she WANTS but because it's what she does and she knows it.

The Dad chimed in, "Sissy. Did you wash your hands correctly in the bathroom or is MOM the one telling the truth?"

"Really, I did! I washed them!"

Exasperated and my will draining, I gathered some more patience and adjusted The Dad's question. "Sissy, did you wash your hands correctly BEFORE mom caught you or AFTER because I was sneaky and spying and caught you?"

"IwashedthemAFTERmomsawme" she mumbled into her shirt, barely audible.

"Sissy, please speak clearly."

*grunting* followed by more mumbling.

"Sissy, we can not understand you."

"UGH! I washed them AFTER mom told me!!!!"

"Thank you for being honest!"

Really, it's like pulling teeth and it makes me so exhausted and exasperated with her. And this is only ONE of the ways she tried to pay us back today.

Later she had one more opportunity to demonstrate correct toileting habits. We were 45 minutes from home and The Dad decided we needed to stop. "Great," I muttered. That means I get to listen to Sissy lie again about washing her hands." I was not pleased to have to deal with it again.

"So just watch her this time, say nothing, see what she does," The Dad offered.

"OK" I mumbled.

In the bathroom, I watched as Sissy walked to the sink and paused. Mmmhmm I thought. She's weighing which will cost her more. Lying again or just washing her hands the right way the first time. She looked back at me and then at the soap and hesitatingly, squeezed the lever to release the foam. "Good choice" I called to her. She ignored me.

I kept watching as she finished, WG joining her at the sink again and I took the chance to relieve myself. The very second the stall door was locked, (read: Sissy waited until she knew I was busy and unavailable to intervene) I overheard Sissy say to WG, "You need to use more paper towels, that's not enough! THAT'S NOT ENOUGH!!!!"

I noticeably cleared my throat from inside the stall and spoke sternly. "Sissy, you're the last one that needs to be coaching someone on proper hand washing. Leave WG alone."

grunting. "Sissy, don't leave this bathroom until I do." I came out of the stall, washed my hands correctly making a big show of my effort, keeping my eyes on Sissy the entire time and waving my hands with flourish and flair so it would be obvious that I was demonstrating it to her, again. And that I had done it correctly. I reached for the towels. Providence stared me in the face as I saw the enormous sign on the back of the door.

Employees must wash hands before returning to work

Oh, this is rich I thought. "Sissy, what does that sign say?"


"Come on Sissy, just read it."

Mumbling to the floor, not even looking at the sign, "Employees should wash their hands"

"Try again. What does the sign say?" (she had to say it exactly because if you read what she said, you'll agree, she was giving herself a loop hole. The word 'should' does not imply a necessity, rather a suggestion)

This time she read it correctly. "Great reading! Can you tell me WHY it's so important?"

"Because they touch toilets and I don't want those germs on my food?"

"What else might they touch?"

She stood there dumbly.

"Come on Sissy, you know this. When you use the toilet, what else is touched?"

"Privates and poo and pee" she muttered.

"RIGHT! So why is it important to wash the hands using soap, rinsing them all the way and drying them all the way?" (i have to say all of those specific steps, any loop holes and she's snagging me again)

"because it's for our health and safety! It's sanitary!" she shouted angrily.

"THANK YOU! And guess what else?" I cooed gaily. "It's a rule for EVERYONE, not just something I made up. People in the WHOLE WORLD have to do it."

more grunting.

We exited and left for home.

I really wish there weren't paybacks to deal with. I wish Sissy didn't have such a big deal with toileting and hygiene. I wish Sissy wouldn't play dumb all the time (seriously? She used words like "health and safety" and "sanitary" as if they were words she used every single day but not until I put her to it) I wish I didn't have to be so patient, painstaking and persistent to get Sissy to be honest, intelligent and correct. It is so much gosh darn work every single day and I for one, get tired of it. Some days it feels like it's never going to be anything different.

Oh, and for the record, Sissy did get an unofficial consequence for all those shenanigans she tried to pull. The rest of us had a grand ol' time chewing gum and blowing bubbles with it (WG learned how this weekend and we all made a big show of how proud we were of her new skill) but Sissy wasn't offered any because she is always telling us just how much she hates it. That's probably a lie on her part too but today that lie cost her the satisfaction of chewing gum with the rest of us. We never said it was her consequence, we just simply said, "Sissy, we know how much you hate gum so we're not going to bother you by asking you if you want any."

Today, I would have been quite glad if the world had gone away.


Anonymous said...

You know C has overcome so many of her RADdy behaviors, but one thing I am certain of....lying will always be an issue for her. We talked about lying recently. Whenever I ask her something she answers with an automatic lie. Sometimes I can see on her face her thought process afterwards..."Why did I just say that? That is not what I wanted to say." When she tells the truth it comes out so awkward it looks more suspect than a lie. She says it just comes out and that she has no idea how to stop it. I told her I thought she just needed more practice telling the truth. Now when she answers me I say to her, "OK, that was your free one. If you choose right now to use your honesty and practice telling the truth we can move on from here. Choose to continue in a lie and we have consequences....I know consequences don't work, but they feel good to me PLUS I have normal kids who can not see her get away with stuff AND a God who tells me to discipline my children if I love them. So she will 50% of the time change her answer....10% of the time she was telling the truth to begin with and 40% of the time she continues in a lie. That is better than before, so I will take it.
C use to have issues with hand washing but I always thought (and still do) it had to do with the fact that her hands were held under scalding hot tap water for punishment. No issues there now. I was concerned about the period thing, but she has done well with that too....she has to take soiled pads, wrap them in plastic bags and take them straight out to the garage garbage. If they sat in the bathroom trash, I am concerned she would want to hoard them (one of her behaviors that has gotten worse). Her second period, I found some wrapped in plastic in her drawer....I flipped and made it clear there would be ZERO tolerance for that. No problems since then.
We got that Lysol automatic soap dispenser becasue both my little ones use TOO much soap. Maybe Sissy would like that thing.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Wow- such tenacity. I'm sure I'd lose it somewhere after the third handwashing prompt. Before our RADISH reunified, we had MAJOR HYGEINE and BODY FLUID ISSUES. Buckshot still refers Radish's handiwork on a certain wall in our home as The Booger Museum. Anyhow, with our adolescent Radish boy, the following prompt was useful. "Hey - no p*nis germs on the door knobs etc light switches etc, please; Could you wash your hands?" The other adolescent boys would be properly repulsed at the thought of RADISH's p*nis germs on everything. I think Radish was surprised his behavior grossed out other people besides the Moms. Eventually we found this really cool kids pump soap with an optopus like design: Squid Soap Dot Com. It had AN INK PAD on the pump part which left a red ink dot on your palm and would take at least 20-30 seconds of lathered scrub to remove the dot. The dot became the prompter - not the Nagging Mom (me!) That soap freed me up to nag about soooo many other annoying things! Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

The bathroom issues are exactly the same here for one kid. We have to deal with it all the time. It trouble I have with it is that at school they think she takes care of it on her own, how gross is that. I make her wash her hands and change her underwear every day as soon as she walks in the door.

Rose Adoption Journey said...

Sounds like my house with the two boys! And they have something they add....peeing on the toliet seat and not washing it off! YUK!

GB's Mom said...

D is 18 and we still fight the hygiene battle. It sucks.

FosterAbba said...

We had similar battles over hand-washing. I still don't trust that my kid has done a good job, so I often send her back and make her sing "Happy Birthday" twice while I watch her scrub. Then, I know that she's not only used soap, but scrubbed for an adequate amount of time.

Anonymous said...

Yeah we have the toileting issues too. What do you do about this ans school? Our school thinks she can handle this herself but I know she can not. It is more then a little disgusting. We have been making her wash her hands and change her underwear every day as soon as she gets home. I was laughing the entire way through this post as I have done the exact same things many times over.

Little Wonder said...

And to give you the "normal person" response: Every child hates washing his or her hands, what's the big deal?

Ah, but I do "get" it! You rock, Mom!! Spend one day...right?

J. said...

mine seem to think handwashing is for other people, not them.

Jennie said...

To little wonder: duck, because I'm about to whump you on the back side of your head. lol

to everyone else: but that still doesn't answer the question. WHY do RADs have so many hand washing issues?

Little Wonder said...

OUCH! lol

Why? Control? Because our kiddos feel so shamed that they don't think they deserve to be clean? Clean represents what they do not believe they are? I dunno.