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, April 29, 2012

New Problems

What is "under"?  Because if I say, "the dishwasher detergent is UNDER the sink" why does my daughter reach for the Palmolive ON TOP OF  the sink?

What is "be quiet"?  Because if I say "Sissy, stop talking and BE QUIET" why does her mouth keep running?  And then when I say, "BE QUIET!!!" a little more forcefully why does she scream at me that she's "NOT TALKING!"

What is "eat politely"?  Because if I'm out in public and I ask my daughter to eat politely when she is having an ice cream, why does she have so much chocolate all.over.her.face.hair.hands.chin.and.clothes that it looks like she fell into a pile of poop?

What is "stop screaming"?  Because if I say, "Sissy stop.screaming.at.me" why then does she proceed to get nose-to-nose and scream louder?

What is "put your things away"?  Because I've asked Sissy ten times to put her personal items away and yet, they remain on the sofa, table, kitchen floor, hallway floor, kitchen counter, bedroom floor, back porch steps ...

What is "take your medicine"?  Because I literally have to stand over my daughter at med dosing time and tell her five hundred times to take her pills while she gabs, talks, giggles, fusses, shouts, you name it.

What is "close the back door"?  Because I've told her to close the door behind her countless times and yet, it remains open.

What is "do your best"? when my daughter comes to me with her sleeping bag all balled up and twisted into contortions with the string double knotted somewhere around the mid section and says, "i  can't do it"?  Because I know she hasn't done her best.  And so does she.

If someone can please tell me where I'm erring in my efforts to communicate directives in the English language, I would be much obliged.  Until then, I seem to have new problems to conquer, the least of which is that my 12 y/o daughter seems to have a hearing issue.

The best part so far for my Sunday morning that began three and a half hours ago?  Sissy announcing that she'll be a teenager this year (eight full months from now) and not three seconds later she was in a full-blown two y/o toddler tantrum.

eh, perhaps I'd be more forgiving if I hadn't had the brilliant idea of spending quality time with the children in the tent in the backyard ... all night.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another week of crazy looms on the horizon

After last week's school fiasco, Sissy ended up on a two week restriction at home and with much narrower parameters at school. Voila. With the exception of Thursday night's rabble rousing event over toothpaste (why is it always toothpaste?!?) she has done SO.MUCH.BETTER.

We had a quiet weekend. She wanted to go full-tilt but I refused, refused, refused. We spent one and a half hours out of the house Saturday doing chores like recycling, a quick trip to the grocery store and a fun outing to browse the pet store with our dog in tow (it's silly but the kids really enjoy being allowed to take the dog into a store so even though we walk out of there empty handed, they have a blast.)

 Her restriction is no TV, no Wii, no DS, no music beyond radio, early bed time. Two weeks. On her restriction contract we've included what she IS allowed to do. I made sure the list of DO's was longer than the list of DON'Ts.

The past 72 hours she's been so much better. Of course, she initially had trouble finding ways to amuse herself and wanted to pester, pester, pester for time with someone else and entertainment from another person. I simply said, "well, I have plenty of chores you can do..."

She's played with her dolls, her b.arbies, she finished another biography on E.lvis, she played outside, drew pictures, tidied up her space, brushed my hair, sat on the swing, took a bath and put herself to sleep.

Amazing how narrowing parameters makes the intense emotions fade. Of course, I'll probably be eating crow next time she hits another roadblock but I made sure to compliment her on her success of excepting her limits thus far. We've only had one ten minute time out for being mouthy since Friday morning.

 I sure do like quiet in the house!

AB is loving life with his new glasses. He's also self-modulating by spending an inordinate amount of time on the trampoline. And may wonders never cease, the boy said, "mom. canIopenmywindowtogetfreshairinmyroom?" He recognized that his adolescent self had made his room a den of pre-teen boy aromas. He's such a cool kid. He watches M.thbusters over and over and over and laughs heartily at the same funny scenes a hundred times, begging for me to watch them time and again.

 I'll politely say, "well, you've shown me that one before."

"Oh yeah. I forgot. It's so funny."

But I watch it anyway because I love to see and hear him laugh. He's also tremendously helpful. We made a quick run to H.ome D.epot to get a replacement blind for the back door, WG having annihilated the old one. Looking at the vinyl blinds, AB said "mom. this one is good." He was pointing to the bamboo version. He's right. It's much better. I like it when he makes suggestions that seem innocuous but are spot on perfect.

Their Aunt was here this afternoon just hanging out and I can't believe that he is only one inch shorter than she is. Good golly that boy has grown!

Speaking of growing, our caterpillars have hatched into beautiful painted-lady butterflies. One didn't make it but nonetheless, it's been so much fun. I never get tired of the wonder and curiosity of metamorphosis. Tomorrow we plan to release them and hopefully in the morning before the bus comes so the neighbor kids can participate too.

I'm rambling. It's late and it's Sunday and there's another week of craziness looming on the horizon. My but 6 a.m. comes quickly. Love to all!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Screamfest 101

Yikes. A new blogger format. It scares me! *shivers*

 Learning new technology stuff is annoying. I don't have the time to readjust. I'm too tired. Why do things change? Oh well,if they didn't I'd probably complain that it was boring.

 Change has smacked me in the face this week. Sissy... she's coming undone. How she managed to avoid suspension this week is beyond me. She bribed another student: if she was paid $1.00 she'd stop stalking the student. When confronted by the teachers and the stalked student's parents, my daughter decided to reduce her fee to $0.50. If that wasn't enough, she marched up to the parents of the victimized student and told them what was what - explaining that it was THEIR daughter that was the liar.

 I may have to insist that my daughter be returned to the EBD classroom. This is the third outburst during school in two weeks. Last week the PE coach was rather put-out to say the least when she approached me in the car rider lane, handing me a fist full of nail polish vials and a miniature skate board she had confiscated. Apparently Sissy was refusing to participate in PE, huddled in the corner fiddling with things. When approached by the coach who inquired what Sissy was doing, my child's first response was, "I didn't open the nail polish." But of course her hands and skateboard were covered with various colors. And whom did Sissy blame for her choice to squirrel away these items? The student she was stalking.

 *bang head here*

 So pretty much, it's been screamfest 101 out of Sissy's mouth every night this week including a crisis call Tuesday night. The therapist's opinion was that should she get that bad again, I should call 911. But do I REALLY want to go down that road again with her? Um. No.

Bottom line, I think this school business is driving her monkey train and moving back to EBD is likely the best bet. Let's hope I can convince the county of the same. I think I'll mention the fact that on Monday, just a few hours south of here, a six year old was handcuffed for her classroom tantrum. And do they really want that kind of publicity for our perfect little county? I don't think so.

That's enough of my pity party for today.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A welcome Return

I had the privilege of spending 16 days throughout the last month with my youngest sister as she passed in and out of town. I love her very much and wish she would stay but she's a free-agent, a traveler and has other things to do than make her big sister feel loved and at peace.

However, she did leave me a few treasures, including Tibetan meditation music, fresh sage for burning, a macaw feather,a medicine bag and the strength to keep on keeping on. With the addition of new skills learned in Orlando like hooping and practicing my own henna art (with paper and pen for now until my hand is steady), I feel like an energized woman. Incense, meditation, relaxation, mandalas all of it have given me hope.

Being back in the classroom has helped me spend my days productively. The teenagers are still teenagers but I don't mind. It gives me something else to think about during the day. My own kids think it's too cool that I'm back in the classroom and AB and Sissy are begging to be enrolled at my school next year as rising middle schoolers instead of the public school they're zoned for. Oh how I wish I could make that happen. The tuition bill alone doubles what I'd make teaching for the year. WG likes to come to my classroom and pretend she's a teacher. Sissy likes that we have a library. AB likes all the science stuff I have every where. It's really neat to see them interested in ME and what makes MOM happy.

We are even doing our own home experiments. The girls caught tent caterpillars and one has already gone to chrysalis. I think the other will die because Sissy keeps handling him. I purchased painted lady butterfly caterpillars and in one week they went from being one centimeter long to this!

The kids can't wait until they're all in chrysalis. I'm a little panicked that the tent caterpillars in the butterfly tent won't have hatched yet and as future moths, may pose a threat to the survival of the butterflies. Time will tell. But as luck would have it, cleaning out my classroom from the previous instructor, I found a certificate to order more butterfly larvae so I can repeat the experiment with my biology students. I don't know why but that just makes me so happy. Literally, I squealed with excitement when I found the certificate. I showed my students the postcard sized piece of paper and gushed and gushed about it but 14-15 year old teens don't much care about such things. So I guess that makes me the nerdy science teacher? Oh well!

AB has had some changes recently. He's walking so much better that he's not been wearing his AFO's for several months. It's a lot less hassle in the morning getting him dressed, I assure you. His growth has slowed some and he is steady at 85% height and weight. His voice is DEEP, it changed so fast and he's convinced he's part werewolf because his body hair has grown in so much. He's still not ready to shave his mustache and I teased him that it looked like one of the caterpillars we're growing. He thought that was hysterical. He's back in glasses, this time for near-sighted vision. He was so happy to put them on that he actually smiled! (If you know my son, you know that expressing outward emotion in a public place is HUGE.) Alas, in addition to getting glasses, he has failed the initial hearing test too so we're off to a specialist to rule out or confirm hearing loss. C'est la vie. We've been down this road with him before. We'll see what the tests reveal and go from there.

WG is doing much better at managing her anger and anxiety but the PTSD still affects her sleeping. She has nightmares frequently and despite my best efforts, I've not been able to convince her that sleeping alone or with a sibling will be just as good as being with mom. Thus, she is putting up royal fusses at bedtime, sleeping in the recliner, on the sofa, on the floor, in the hallway ... it's a mess. I really need to have my bed at night or I'd just let her sleep with me every night. But as tiny as she is, she can fill up a bed all by herself which makes her a lousy bed fellow. For now, we've tentatively agreed to her sleeping on a palate on my bedroom floor. *sigh* I keep telling myself this will pass. I remind myself that in no time at all she won't need me and I'll be the bane of her existence so I should revel in this time. But those admonitions are always usurped by my desperate need for alone time.

Sissy fussed and hollered at me this evening when I cut her outdoor time short for bedtime routines. Our county is doing state standardized testing and she needs proper sleep. She insisted that it didn't matter: she has already repeated fifth grade, doesn't need to pass the standardized test to move on to sixth grade and please, please PUHLEASE, she'd do anything, ANYTHING if I just let her have a few more minutes of scooter time. And anyway, she begged, she thinks she got all of the reading questions correct today. My can she wail and holler. In the long, narrow hallway her shrill screeches really echo.

When she gets like that, you can't reason with her. So I just stone-faced wait until her mouth is closed and there's no sound coming out of her being. When I open my mouth to speak, she usually starts in again with her wailing so she can't hear me. That's when I hold up my hand and count down from five with my fingers, her queue that if she's not silent to hear mom, she's getting a time-out consequence (and close to bedtime that means just going straight to bed.) My ears were still ringing when she stopped begging, just one finger still standing. "Sissy, if you hurry and do your routines you can read quietly until 8:30."


It's so hard not to laugh! She dashed up lickety split and then when all was said and done, opted to just go straight to sleep. OK then. So all that screaming was for nothing. Fun times, fun times.

I'll never get used to seeing a 12 year old behave like a two year old but at least it doesn't ruffle my feathers anymore. I let her use up that negative energy but I don't reflect it back. Instead she gets a hug and love as a welcome return.

A quilt I made for my friend's baby who will be here no later than next Friday. I have two others like it just about finished and ready to put up on the etsy site.

My sister sporting a leather skirt she made by hand. It, along with many other items is for sale on my etsy site as well. Go check it out. The link is at the top of the right sidebar.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Where the Sun Don't Shine

I gave up anger for lent. The intensity of that emotion was weighing me down and impacting everything in my life. I purposefully chose to lay down that emotion so I could concentrate on the other emotions that get hidden behind that blind wall. I felt grief, longing, happiness, hope, courage, wisdom, fear, strength, sorrow, despair, hatred, love, beauty and so much more. Anxiety came visiting a few times but it became easier and faster to snuff it out. It was very satisfying and I'm glad I made that choice.

Now that Easter has passed, anger has risen up hard and fast. I have good reason to be angry. Having spent 40 days refusing that emotion, I now feel that I have more control over my anger so I can use it as a positive tool that propels me into proactive directions as opposed to destructive paths.

I grieve that I haven't blogged as much. For so long it has been my lifeline to sanity, hope and strength. Knowing that other families were just a few typed characters away from understanding my situation has fortified me and allowed me to keep plowing headlong through the chaos that is mental health illness no matter how difficult it became. Sissy still has difficult moments, as does AB and now WG who is finally processing the trauma of the past several years but we are a cohesive unit and more often than not, support each other instead of hinder.

Just this morning I was agitated, having not slept well last night. I tossed and turned, brooding and stewing on some recent events that have been upsetting to me. At two-thirty in the morning I reminded myself that anger only helps me if I use it to better myself. I finally fell back asleep but awoke to a fresh wave of frustration. Unintentionally, I allowed my frustration to ooze all over our normally peaceful morning routines. I apologized quickly and explained briefly why I was upset and acknowledged that it was still no excuse.

I was standing at the sink, filling the dishwasher while this exchange occurred. Sissy was practicing her math skills on the computer while gibbering on and on to no one in particular, WG was in my room doing her homework, frustratingly waiting for me to get her some breakfast, and AB was pacing in front of the counter waiting for me to dry my hands so I could tie his shoes for him. With or without external life stressors, the particular set of circumstances would unnerve the most patient of moms, I know that and I give myself some leeway in my fallacy. No one is perfect but I except no deviations for myself. It is who I am and how I operate.

Sissy, after hearing my apology and explanation said, "Mom? Do you think a hug would help?"

Typically, when Sissy is agitated or perseverating on an emotionally troubling conflict, I say nonchalantly, "Huh. Sounds like it's hug time." So I was taken aback that my typical response to her difficulties was coming full circle. I stopped what I was doing and stood still at the kitchen sink, AB still pacing, WG still hollering from the other room for her breakfast. Would a hug help? I asked myself. Is that what I need at this time? I decided physical contact could never be a bad thing so I said, "You know what Sissy? I think it would. Can I have a hug?"

She got up from the computer, walked to me and wrapped her arms around my middle. Even though she's 12, she's still so very small so her head still fits under my chin perfectly when we hug. I breathed in her essence and allowed her hug to warm me. I took three slow deep breaths and let out my tension. With each exhalation, a little more melted away. "Thank you Sissy. That was EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you for knowing what I needed and providing it for me."

"Your welcome." And she walked back to the computer. I bent down to tie AB's shoes then poured the cereal into WG's bowl, walking back to my room to give it to her while she finished her homework. Magic. I can't believe such simple magic occurs in my house now. It's so beautiful and peaceful. There are many bends and twists, hills and valleys, rocky and steep paths still ahead but we take them one step at a time.

I've not allowed the "sun" to shine on some aspects of my personal life in this blog. But I feel it is unfair to my readers who have followed our family's story for so long to not offer further disclosure.

I have filed for divorce. I have been separated since December 3rd. This blog became a point of concern at the first hearing on February 8th. At that time, it was intimated that I had used this blog to misrepresent our story, manipulating the goodness of my readers, abusing the system for selfish gain and to "get rid of" Sissy all while telling everyone how they could abuse the system in like turn. The entire blog was printed and presented in court.

It has been very hard to continue our story in light of such strong, blasphemous accusations none of which are true.

In the long run, although blogging has been so supportive and amazingly restorative not to mention the life-long connections I've made with so many readers in addition to finding and plugging into the ETAAM support group, it has become a weapon used against me. I'm not the only blogger that has experienced such a turnabout. Ultimately, if your life story is a challenged one, people will begin to question the verity of your tale. All I can say is, every person perceives an event or series of events in their own way with their own backgrounds, histories, emotions, trauma, anxiety, behaviors and preconceived notions. 100 people could witness the same event and yet all 100 will write a different account. This disparity is not error, it is humanity. Thank GOD we are all different. What a boring world this would be if we were drones experiencing life in exactly the same measure.

That said, a blog is never "wrong" unless an individual begins blogging with the expressed intent of deception. But that is not my nature, never has been. My expressed intent of blogging our story was to make it known that we were in crisis and were desperate for help; desperate to know if others were experiencing the same trauma; desperate to help others in like kind.

There are still several areas of my personal life that I won't disclose in this blog as is my want. But my nondisclosure does not make this story any less true.

Why is Sissy so much better? I believe it is because the anger, violence and abuse in our home has finally stopped. I believe choosing to get divorced was the path that led to such clarity.

Today Sissy asked ME if I wanted a hug when I was feeling bad. THAT truth alone speaks volumes - more than any blog could put into words.

Be well this day. Be good to yourself. Let an unexpected someone hug you today.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools

I've never understood the reasoning behind April Fool's Day. I suppose it doesn't help that I don't like to be tricked. Trickery and deception are a quick trigger for me. Nonetheless,Friday Sissy announced with glee that Saturday would be April Fool's Day.

Me: "Um, no. April Fool's Day is Sunday."
Sissy: "huh? No it's not, it's tomorrow."
Me: "Tomorrow is Saturday the 31st."
Sissy: "No. It's April first."
Me: *sighing* "There are 31 days in March. Today is the 30th. That means tomorrow is the 31st. April Fool's day is not until Sunday."
Sissy: "But I thought there were only 30 days in March."
Me: "There are 31."
Sissy: "are you sure?"
Me: *sighing deeper* "yes."
Sissy: "So Sunday is April Fool's Day?"
Me: "Yes."
Sissy: "YAY! Mom! Sunday is April Fool's Day!"
Me: "Yep."
Sissy: "So I can play tricks on you on Sunday?"
Me: "technically."
Sissy: "YAY! Mom? Why aren't you excited?"
Me: "I don't like April Fool's Day."
Sissy: "but why, it's fun!"
Me: "I never think of good tricks and I don't like tricks being played on me."
Sissy: "Oh. So can we still celebrate April Fool's Day?"
Me: "I wouldn't necessarily call it a day for celebration, but yes. If you want to."
Sissy: "YES!" and she skipped away.

The kids woke me up this morning and not one of them has remembered it's April Fool's Day. I'm not about to remind them. I MIGHT mention that it's Palm Sunday but April fool's Day? I'm no fool! I'm keeping that little nugget a secret for as long as possible ... say, until tomorrow morning?