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, August 12, 2010

I don't know

My daughter's epitaph will read as such:
Here lies Sissy
She doesn't know

Any question we ask that requires thought before the answer can be given, as in any question that isn't a yes or no response (we'll come back to that in a second) has one response from Sissy


At this point, she's done it so much that The Dad and I will preempt her whine by shouting it out in unison for her, complete with tone, inflection and harrumphing glare. Which of course, she hates. Especially if all three of us are shouting "I don't know!" in unison. (fyi - it's a lot of fun, I highly recommend it - it's like a bunch of howling hound dogs, sounds about the same too)

Go ahead. Think of a question you'd like to ask Sissy. Any question. Got it? OK, ask the computer screen your question ....



just like that.

Most poignant question we asked Sissy today after she'd exhausted our reserve with her back to school defiance, disrespect, attitude and two-year-old tantrums:

"Sissy, why are you so good for your teachers that they send us emails telling us how wonderful you are but you continue to make such lousy choices when you're at home?"

Ready? All together now ...


Very good! You did that perfectly, just like Sissy! Did you remember to cross your arms, screw up your face and stamp your feet? you did?!? Excellent! You're hired for Sissy stand-ins anytime. We have 24/7 openings available immediately. The pay isn't great (as in, you get food, clothing and shelter) but you'll have your own bedroom in the living room complete with closing curtains!

OK, as promised. The Yes/No questions usually go like this:

"Sissy, did you wash your hands?"

"Last week I used soap."

"No. Sissy, this question needs a yes or no answer. Did you wash your hands?"

"The towel is wet, you can check it for yourself."

"One more time. Answer only yes or no. Sissy. Did you wash your hands two minutes ago after you used the toilet?"


see? that wasn't a yes or no answer. Somehow there's a blip in her brain that can't translate the words yes and no. There's not a diagnosable syndrome for this condition, however, so we just get to deal. Apparently medications don't address this yes/no brain gap either. As I told the therapist today, "it's like there's a gap in her head and in the gap is the Mississippi river. Some days, when the river is low, she can cross the gap in her brain without any trouble. But watch out, the river is prone to flash floods and then guess what? It ain't safe for anybody to cross and Sissy? She just shuts down because building a bridge to get across safely is too.much.damn.effort"

can you tell I'm a little annoyed?


What gave it away?

And this is the voice of a woman that has had 5 hours of respite this week!!!! It's been that kind of week with Sissy. i love her but man, she can burn me up in a skinny minute some days.


GB's Mom said...

You still sound so much better than just a couple of months ago! {{{Hugs}}}

Integrity Singer said...

gb's mom - true, true. but wait, there's more. pdoc appt is next monday and he wants to discuss coming off resperidal. NOT cool.

Kerrie said...

AAUGH!! I SO hear you!. Princess is finally where she can actually SAY yes or no, but only after 3 or 4 false starts. And another yes to the chanting in unison: what Princess says/whines/moans/screams during tantrums is sooooo predictable that I can say/whine/moan/scream along with her. Which annoys her to no end. Especially when she starts laughing. Then she really gets mad.

Bren said...

It is really tough to separate the RAD and the "normal"...."I don't know" is a very common kid thing. The RAD kid will take something normal to the extreme, as we well know, but rejoice that this is actually a common, "Normal" kid thing. I always told my boys (and Charlotte) "I don't know" translates "I don't care" so when they said, "I don't know" (and you knew they did) I made them say "I don't care". They hated that and soon enough they stopped using it (as much). I am prone to the "I don't know's" myself if I am tired and do not want to talk! LOL

Kelly said...

Oh man. If you ever get an answer on why she is so good at school and makes such horrible choices at home, please pass it on to me. I would love an answer to that one. Nate is an absolute angel at school but home..not so much. I am grateful he is good at school, believe me, I do not want to deal with another thing but why, oh why can they not be good at home too?

Lisa said...

We do the exact same thing with my SIXTEEN year old son. He's so stuck in this and always has been (sorry, I'm not going to tell you she'll outgrow it - in whatever weird way, it's working for her). Now, after years and years of this, we finally saw an interesting change in the "I don't know" answers. Now, if we ask anyone else a question - anywhere within his hearing range (and my does he have good hearing) he answers for them!! We could ask him the exact same question and he cannot/will not answer. Ask his sister it 30 seconds later and he is just full of information and doesn't mind sharing it with anyone who wants to hear. Augh...

As to the actual school question - wth??? I am sure I look like an absolute b-t-h to his teachers because they praise him and his behaviors (although he is in an emotionally impaired classroom so not everyone thinks he's wonderful - he's there for a reason) and I either stare blankly or give a quick, stiff smile or I just look growly (imagine that!) because I DON'T CARE anymore how good he is at school. I honestly don't. The psychiatrist could care less if he's tanking every family relationship in favor of charming a teacher who he won't even see 9 months or less from now. Better to have lots of short-term relationships where both parties walk away happy than anything long-lasting where (gasp) someone might hold him accountable for his actions. CRAZY??? - yes