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, November 6, 2010

A momentary lapse of Alturism

13 years in the running, Operation Christmas Child is still an amazing program. We did it with WG's Daisy troop this past week so I decided to do it again with our crew at home. We've done it before but it's been a really long time.

AB had 15,000 questions. Eventually, out of frustration, we declared a "question quota" for the day and that AB had met his. Then he asked, "What's a quota?" and the quick witted Dad said, "sorry. You've met your quota. I can't answer that question until tomorrow." (we've discussed the need to call his doc on Monday to review his meds. AB is speed, speed, speed again)

WG helped me shop for the items. The original thought was to shop together as a family. That was when I was laboring under the delusion that I DON'T have two medically disabled children [1]. I sobered up quickly and phoned The Dad on the way home from WG's dance lesson. "Um. Yeah. So... are AB and Sissy good right now?"

"Yes. Why?"

"right. I have had clarity of mind and opted to shop for the shoebox items with just WG."

"Ah. Good idea."

WG was adorable. She insisted on pushing the shopping cart and had many wonderful suggestions of items to buy. Really, she is an amazing child. I know I see her through rose-colored glasses because I have AB and Sissy to compare her too. Still, I think she's pretty awesome. Did I mention she read her first chapter book and got a 100 on the AR quiz for it? :)

Sissy had a momentary lapse off clear-headed thinking and decided to donate one of her personal puzzles for the cause, a last minute decision as she'd already filled her box and then tried to shove the puzzle on top and attempted to slam the lid shut. Now my RAD mommies and I are thinking the same thoughts 1. did the puzzle have all the pieces? 2. WHY did Sissy volunteer to donate the puzzle? 3. What unspeakable horror of a retribution did you suffer later for her 10 second act of generosity?

1. Yes, the puzzle had all of it's pieces
2. Yes, Sissy had ulterior motives for the donation. Her therapist gave her the puzzle and she hates puzzles.
3. Yes, we suffered a retribution. And this time the cold shower DIDN'T work to stop her infernal screaming.

Ten seconds after I refilled her box so the puzzle would fit, Sissy said, "I hope I don't regret donating that."


HOWEVER, to Sissy's credit, I do believe she had a brief glimpse of generosity and how good it feels to benefit someone other than herself. I'm sure that at least 15% of her motivation for donating the puzzle was driven by altruism. Sure, she had difficulty writing a note to a stranger (had to spy on WG's letter for ideas and then copied WG almost completely) but she didn't rage about it. Well, at least not until an hour later.

When I watch the OCC video, I cry. Just thinking about it makes my eyes teary and my throat thick. It's simple, really. I'm doing the mundane task of purchasing some stupid crap from the dollar store and stuffing it in a cardboard box knowing that whoever opens it up will be delighted. By participating in OCC, I'm recovering the hope and joy I thought I would have by choosing to adopt, by making the effort to save children that would otherwise have had a very difficult life.

Except, now when I watch the video, it stings my heart. My first thought is, pbft. All those kids are probably RAD kids too and hate their gifts, destroy the stuff and spit on the name of America. My second thought is but that can't be true. They can't ALL have suffered trauma and abandonment. They can't ALL be ruined by their circumstance. Look at their faces. How can that be not genuine? Which morphs into my third thought So why is MY child so irrevocably damaged when we have SO much available to us in America? Why couldn't MY child be one of those that is OK despite the things that happened to her? Why has my act of altruism been filled with so much pain so that I can't even watch this OCC video without feeling jaded? And there are no answers. There's only Sissy screaming an hour after filling her box.

The OCC video we watched to show the kids what were about to do.

Getting ready to fill the boxes

AB fills his box

Sissy fills her box.
There was a picture of WG filling her box too but apparently it has been consumed by the digital camera underlords.

Diligently writing cards to put in their box with photo proof of Sissy spying on WG's progress

The finished product, ready to be taken to church in the morning

[1] Yes, you read that correctly. TWO medically disabled children. We got the letter today, AB's appeal went through and we are beginning the process of starting his SSI. It should be all finalized in the next two weeks. UNBELIEVABLE! With both of them on SSI, it is going to make an incredible difference in our quality of life financially.


sweethoneydoo said...

*hangs head in shame* i still have gotten my package out to you yet. i'm sorry.

J. said...

Well on the bright side at least she got through the activity without a tantrum. I think that you are about the sense of giving though and I believe it ya a really important thing for all kids to learn. Hope today is calm.

Anonymous said...

ugh, my heart really goes out to you and your family. just seeing the photos with that fake smile plastered on Sissy's face turns my stomach. no one would blame you if you hauled off and gave her a smack in the mouth next time she throws one of her temper tantrums. notice that i used the word "temper tantrum" instead of "rage". that's because what she's doing is exactly what a toddler would do -- throwing a temper tantrum when she doesn't get her way.

i'm curious about what kind of reactions she gets from her peers at school as a result of her poor hygiene (including what seems to be constantly dirty face/mouth). must be so frustrating (and smelly!) for you that she refuses to clean herself.

beemommy said...

I can tell you first hand that children in orphanages treasure any little thing they get. In Ukraine at many orphanages however, they're often not allowed to keep personal things just for themselves as clothes, toys, etc. are communal. Don't know about the orphanages where CC boxes are given. Here's the thing in my opinion, they know for however long that someone was thinking about them, cared enough to choose things for them and they are not forgotten. Blessings.

Integrity Singer said...

@ aceobase - you know, actually, I felt that way a lot in the beginning of Sissy's Dx process. This was around age 4 and 5. Now I display to her only disappointment and displeasure with her choices. My struggle with her issues I keep personal (and on this blog)

Sissy is regarded as "special" by her peers. In other words, they all know she's not right in her head. Some pick on her, some jeer her, some goad her, some try to help her.