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

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Empathy One Day at a Time

Poor AB, home from school again with another stomach upset. I was thinking about last year and I think I recall that he had several missed days for illnesses. Typical of developmental delays, our kiddos get sick more easily than others. Thank heavens for the medical excuse waiver for school - any of AB's absences or tardies that are GI related are excused. In other words, the county can't send a truancy officer to my door.

I've got laundry running and coffee in hand, classical music running on the laptop and a quilt all over the kitchen table. I was supposed to be at a hair appointment at 10, AB was supposed to have OT this afternoon, ah. Life was supposed to happen today but I knew at 2 am that those plans would all be altered. Here's to life raising kids with challenges. SAHM? Try work-at-home-nurse-educator-housecleaner-cook-therapist-tutor-scullerymaid-laundress-chauffer-cook-financial advisor-secretary-administrator-handywoman-organizer-interior decorator-plumber-electrician-painter-mechanic-mom

Did I forget anything? Probably. And on a dime, the plans can change and you're grounded, all flights cancelled due to inclement tummies or runny noses or fevers, chills and the trots.

Where's my salary, health benefits, 401K and paid vacation and sick days? That's what I want to know.

And how is Sissy? Here's a copy/paste email to her EBD teacher this morning:
She has still not returned to the raging and self-injurious behavior she was displaying before hospitalization which is amazing. However, I have noticed that she is quicker to tantrum and is increasingly more short-tempered and less tolerant of irritants. She is quick to talk back and refuse consequence but settles down moderately well when she's pushed to accept her limit.

She is still mostly green level behaviors at home but this weekend was on yellow for not following directions which put her in danger. (We were leaving the pharmacy, I gave her a verbal cue and began exiting the store only to realize when I got to the van that she had not followed. I returned inside the store and she was completely unaware that I had even left - scary!) That said, I will add that she is definitely needing more physical cuing as I've seen her space out more frequently the past ten days.

This weekend was monumental however. For the first time in five years, she had a sleep over with a friend! WHAT?! So amazing. Of course, this friend was a mom-orchestrated relationship but hey, that's just one more of our many jobs: social coordinator. Not only that, but she expressed empathy. WHAT?!?!

OK, let me be specific. First, Sissy expressing ANY empathy of any kind is HUGE. COLOSSAL. GIGANTIC. ENORMOUS. HOLD-THE-PHONE-WOW. She was watching Edward Scissorhands and began wailing and hollering and sobbing when Edward was being unfairly picked on and arrested because he was misunderstood. She was nearly inconsolable. It was fantastic! When she calmed down, I invited her to just turn off the movie, which she did. Then I gave her a hug (ALSO HUGE) and said, "Do you know what just happened? You expressed EMPATHY!"

*dear in the headlights look*

I explained it and she changed the subject. No matter. I know what happened. And I am so proud of her. Now, will the empathy she had for a fictitious character in an absurd fantasy movie translate to empathy toward real-life humans and situations, more specifically, her family and friends? Eh, probably not any time soon. But hey, a milestone is a milestone. I'll take it.

I'm glad to see Sissy doing so much better but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't on pins and needles waiting for the other shoe to drop. We've seen her remissions before. I can't safely conclude that she's past some hurdles and that she isn't just running the paces of her mental illness and trauma. RADs is still alive and well but since she's not raging or hurting herself and others, it isn't tripping me up emotionally.

One day at a time, that's all anyone can do. One day at a time.

1 comment:

kisekileia said...

Wait, why did you punish her for not following you when she didn't even realize you left? Maybe Sissy is different from me in this case, but I know I sometimes haven't noticed when the people I'm with have moved on (generally because I've been hyperfocused on something), and it hasn't been something I could control. It's not fair to punish her for something that's completely involuntary.