I was asked recently to review the book To Hurt to Stay by Casey Watson, when it arrived I started to read it as and then I got distracted not because it wasn’t good but because life just gets in the way of my reading time.
When I was asked to read the book I was given this quote from the publisher
Eight-year-old Spencer takes himself to social services and demands to be taken into care. It’s a desperate act, a cry for help, but his parent’s reaction – good riddance – speaks volumes. Casey’s hackles are immediately up for this poor child.
Spencer is the middle child of four siblings. His parents claim all their other kids are ‘normal’ and that Spencer was born ‘vicious and evil’. Casey and her family are disgusted – kids aren’t born evil, they get damaged. Although when vigilante neighbors start to take action and their landlord threatens eviction, Casey is stretched to the limits, trying desperately to hold on to this boy who causes so much pain and destruction.
Casey is determined to try and understand what Spencer is going through and help him find the loving home he is so desperately searching for. But it’s only when Spencer’s mother gets in touch with social services for the first time that gradually everything starts to make sense.
As soon as I read that I knew that this was a book I could read, a book I would understand, a book I could relate to.
It took me a while to get back to reading it but when I picked it up again I dove in and was quickly reminded of the fact that this book could be the story of one of my sons, in fact it could be the story of so many children I know. Children who were hurt by people who should love them, people who should protect them and instead do unspeakable things to them. Trauma, abuse and neglect affect every aspect of a child’s life and in this book the author does not hold back and lets the reader know just how very hard it can be to care for these very challenging children.
Casey Watson tells the honest truth about what this life like. She is honest and candid about how others react to our children and about some the fantastic stunts they can pull while no one is paying attention. Young Spencer makes my kids look like angels.
Although Casey Watson is a therapeutic foster parent and not an adoptive parent she understands first hand what the journey of loving a child who does not want to be loved is like. I will be searching out some of her other books as there is a great deal of comfort in knowing that I am not alone.
May 10, 2013 No Comments
- It seems as though spring has finally arrived in the great white north.
- The kids and I walked for over an hour yesterday which was good for all of us and there were some interesting conversations while we walked.
- They also jumped on the trampoline for hours and entertained themselves outside all afternoon.
- (shhh this part needs to be whispered because if I say it aloud it will end) Things with Ramona have calmed back down to their regular level of crazy which is so much better than the super intense crazy we did from Jan through March. April began and she calmed way down which is a really good thing. r
- Other people who live here are still crazy.
- I have one child who is not interested in learning anymore and so his morning is spent sitting around bored while everyone else does school.
- He has been at it for over a week, I am sure that eventually the boredom will become less exciting and he will finish the work needed to finish the year.
- Last week was challenging here in other ways, there was an incident with a professional who we were working with who referred to one of my kids birth parents as their “real mom” in front of the kid.
- My head almost exploded I was so mad.
- I threw that one to my loving other half and let him deal with and fire the professional involved.
- I am still mad.
- There is a lot of adoption language that is unimportant and other stuff that is huge, this is one of the ones that I think is huge.
- All of my children have had multiple mothers and they all have names and played different roles in their lives, they are all real.
- Real is one of those impossible to defines terms for a kid and it is not a way to refer to parents, birth, foster, adoptive or step.
- Things are still super busy here but next week we are taking a school vacation week and celebrating Easter, again, long story but you can read about the craziness of using 2 calendars in the Ukrainian church here if you are interested.
April 23, 2013 No Comments
I know I disappeared again. No particular reason, just up to our eyeballs around here. There are so many things on the go in our regular lives because home schooling keeps way busy and then you throw trauma anniversaries, almost 13 year olds and a kid who is really having a hard time just getting through the day and I fall into bed at the end of the day.
I spent far to long working on our taxes… it is not good, I hate taxes.
Anyway, we are alive, we breathing and drinking water and getting up every morning and right now, today that is good enough.
April 18, 2013 No Comments
Then the penny drops and I figure it all out. Sometimes I am really slow, like painfully slow at realizing the obvious and even though other people point it out to me I still don’t really get it.
Let me back up, things have been hard here for awhile, some of it is my kids behaviour, some of it was winter, some of it was my depression and some of it was just that lately life was not quite what I had thought it would be. I was lulled into this false sense of security with my boys and around December things started to fall off the rails with them and things have been really hard ever since.
They have both come so far and I thought that things would just keep getting better, that the healing would continue and that it would all be good. Then it stopped being good, in fact it got really hard and as a certain small girl started to attach to me, to actually love me I realised that the boys only are still insecurely attached. That was a big moment for me. It is normal for humans to give and receive love, it is part of taking care of one another and it was not until I started to be loved by Ramona that I realised that the relationship I have with the boys is much different.
You can google insecure attachment if you want to learn more about it but what it means is that they both still struggle with trusting that I am going to meet their needs, keep them safe and that they will be loved unconditionally. Neither of them is very good at understanding that love is a reciprocal thing that is both given and received. They are both stuck in the stage of toddler/preschooler where it is normal and appropriate for it to be all about you and what you need. They are unable to realise that the needs of the people around them might be impacted by their behaviour and choices. They both often go straight to a tantrum just like a toddler when they do not get there way. There is nothing quite like a 12 year old having an actual stomp your feet and scream your head off tantrum to remind that something is not right in their brain.
We have had the boys for 5 years his July and we are sill having the same conversations about boundaries, personal space, sharing, talking, not hitting, etc that were having when they were 6 and 8. When I say the same conversations I do mean the very same ones.
Calvin is still unable to maintain a relationship with kids his own age, when we go out he gravitates towards the younger children and will happily play tag or in the sandbox for hours on end. I have no problem with his this but other kids are starting to wonder about his behaviour. Kids his own age whom we have known for years will no longer really associate with him because they are maturing and moving on to being teenagers and he is not. Calvin is unable to understand that other people have emotions and that his choices affect how other people are feeling.
Fudge is a different story, there are other factors at play for him and in many ways the profound neglect he suffered as an infant has and will continue to affect his daily life. That being said he has made huge strides in his attachment to me and unlike Calvin he feels remorse and tries to make things better after he makes a mistake. I have some of the best apology letters from him because he although he has cognitive issues that effect his impulse control and other aspects of his daily life he genuinely wants to be in relationship with people even if it scares him to death because he so very afraid of losing the people he loves. He works at having friends and although he struggles with being socially appropriate he wants, and is mostly able to maintain superficial friendships with his peers.
And although I try not to compare my kids it is really hard because parenting Ramona is so different.
Ramona has been here a year, her ability to understand when she crossed the line, ask forgiveness and change her actions amazes me. She is empathetic towards others when they are in pain and tries hard to make amends when she has wronged someone. She gets that she makes poor choices and can talk about how her choices effected the outcome of a situation. She is attaching to both P and I and actually desires to be loved and accepted by us as her parents. Now that being said she does rage, tantrum and manipulate every single situation and without her meds I can barely contain her. She struggles with friendships, sharing and tries to control everything but I expect that from her and things are getting so much better and she grows and feels safe here.
So the other day when I realised that Ramona was loving me, that she was genuinely concerned for my well being I had to stop and have a little cry because I have never felt that from the boys in the same way. To be honest I am not sure that they are able to love in the same way. Not because they do want to but because the damage done to them as little kids means that their brains are not wired the way they should be. I know that, I understand that, but my heart often forgets because I pour myself into these kids everyday. I do everything I can and when there is nothing in return it hurts, it hurts because being loved is a normal part of relationships and it makes me so sad that they are still having such a hard time loving and being loved.
April 7, 2013 No Comments
- I’m alive.
- not much to say
- just working on getting through the day.
- lots of posts in my head, no time to write them though
- hoping things slow down soon… not likely though.
April 2, 2013 No Comments
- Things have settled down here and frankly that is a damn good thing.
- Last week I came as close as I possibly could to throwing in the towel with one of my kids without actually doing it.
- The boy I know and love has returned but he did spend 2 days in his room and a 3rd on a really short leash before the nasty little brat left.
- It’s a good thing he figured it out because there was little patience left by Friday and if something did not change I was going to blow in a big way.
- The thing is I can manage the Ramona stuff and one boy but with both of them acting up I was sunk.
- Last week was the kind of week I longed to be able to send them to school.
- School is not a good place for any of my kids though and it would bring it’s own huge set of challenges.
- The snow is finally melting here and we are well into the season of mud, there is mud everywhere.
- I don’t mind mud, it is better than snow.
- After mud comes flowers, I like flowers a lot.
- We are heading to New York this weekend to visit friends we love, yeah for friends.
- Thanks for all the love last week, it means a lot to be reminded that I am not alone even though there are says when that is exactly how I feel.
March 25, 2013 No Comments
I’ve been feeling close the edge with the boys for a long time and this week that edge has crept ever closer. I am so tired of the constant lying, stealing, sneaking, arguing, picking, poking, accusations, screaming, back talk and general nasty behavior that has become our new normal.
It’s been 5 years, this could get easier with them any time now and I would be ok with that. If this keeps up I am not sure how much longer I will be able to manage it. When they were little I had so much hope, I saw so much progress and today I am not feeling very hopeful for them. This regressive stage seems to be going on forever and I am not handling it very well.
If I was not dealing with all the one year trauma anniversary stuff with Ramona I might be in a better place but I am dealing with her and I had sort of banked on them doing better. Three being out of control all at once feels like more than this depressed Mama can manage. Actually I should say that I am managing it but I could be doing a better job and I could be way more therapeutic than I am being.
Is it spring yet… sending them outside all day would help.
March 21, 2013 5 Comments
- oh it has been a day around here.
- Monday is therapy day for Ramona, it always proves amusing if nothing else because she is so on top of what is going on and we will only talk about the things on her agenda.
- Calvin has some serious pre-teen attitude going on, it’s not working so well for him.
- Fudge thought playing with flint and steel in the play room would be a good plan yesterday, I was less than impressed.
- Yesterday Ramona thought that calling me every name in the book was also a good plan, again it didn’t work so well for her unless writing sentences and an early bedtime was her goal.
- We are supposed to get a storm here tomorrow, shooting me might be a better option.
- The flower photos are not nice people.
- Last year at this time it was warm, sunny and my kids were wearing shorts.
- This year we are wearing snow suits.
- I am so done with winter it is not even funny any more.
- I also spilled a huge bag of rice all over my kitchen floor tonight, I posted the photo because letting other feel my pain was the only thing that kept me from crying.
- I’d be lost without my friends, I am so grateful that I have people in my world who live lives just like mine and who get what parenting kids from hard places is like. It makes all the difference int he world.
- here’s to hoping the week gets better because if today is repeated there is going to be a lot of early bedtimes.
March 18, 2013 5 Comments
It has been a year, a whole year since we packed you up in the van with your brothers in the back and brought you home. It was a long trip and you were so scared. I know that now, I didn’t know you very well then, didn’t understand your signals and your cues. I am much better at that now because we have had a whole year together, a whole year to grow and change and learn about one another.
I now know that if I tickle you in just the right spot you will actually laugh, not that little fake laugh you so often use but a real Ramona laugh from the depths of your belly. I have learned that when you do not like what you are eating you will slow to a turtles pace in attempt to get out of eating it. I know when your tears are real and when they are just for attention. I have learned that you like to pretend you can’t do things and when you are mad at me you hide my stuff. You are fantastic at changing the subject and controlling a situation when you do not like what is happening or being discussed. You love all things girl but keep up with your brothers as if you were 11 instead of 7 and I am sure you could take them if they really challenged you to. You are a voracious reader and love to draw and paint. You will spend hours playing imaginary games with Calvin and you drag Fudge kicking and screaming into your imagination as well. You can convince all of your brothers to play with you even though they totally all think that they are told old and cool for such games. You love to sing and our beloved “teenager music” will calm you down quicker than any thing else.
You are one of a kind my dear Ramona.
Since we finalized your adoption you have danced on my last nerve more times than I care to count. You have tested and pushed and shoved to see if we meant it, to see if we meant that this is forever. This week has been better, now that I have said that aloud you are going to self destruct. I do need to say that since I came back from Orlando you have been calmer and have been talking about what is going on inside instead of just screaming at me. Yesterday you had a pretty spectacular meltdown but I had been waiting for that. I did not mention to you that March 12 was day 365 but I know that you knew some where deep inside that this was the day you came home for good. So the combination of Orlando and day 365 was a bit more than you could handle. I knew that though, I was waiting for it we worked through it.
You continue to heal and grow, you inspire me one minute and then infuriate me the next. Sometimes I wonder about the ways of the universe and how exactly I ended up with you. Actually how we ended up with one another would be more appropriate because you remind me so much of a little girl I once knew and she grew up to be rock star. I made you a glass a little while ago that says – Rock Star in Training – you will get there baby girl, it is going to be a long road but I have so much hope for you. We can do this together.
love your biggest fan.
March 15, 2013 1 Comment
I wait all year for Orlando, I literally count the days until I get to spend days on end with women who get me, women who accept me, women who love me just because I am me. I did get to do that this year, I did get to just be me but this year was not the same as last year. Last year Orlando changed who I am. I know that is a lot to say about a 4 day event but it is true. Things happened in Orlando last year that made me a better parent, a better person and a stronger advocate. I went back this year thinking it was going to be as amazing as it was last year and then I was disappointed when it was different.
See that is the thing with annual events, you get your mind set on what it is going to be, you pump it up in your head and then when it is different you are disappointed.
It was not what I expected it to be, it was not what I hoped it was going to be, but it was still good. I mean that. It was good, fantastic in fact. Looking back there was no way that it ever could of been what it was last year, my expectation that it would be was unrealistic and in many ways I set myself up to be disappointed.
I see that now.
So what was so fantastic?
Where do I even begin? It is so hard to explain to people who have never experienced Orlando the wonder of being welcomed and accepted by all those women who live your life. Women who struggle with attachment, PTSD, RAD, depression and so much more on a daily basis. Women who laugh about the volume of pee that we see in places it should not be and who can joke about the antics their kids have pulled lately without shocking anyone. We laugh, we cry, we support one another, it is unlike any support group I have ever attended. These women get me, they love me, they think I am a rock star even when I do not. There are women from this group who would move heaven and earth to help a friend in need, a friend who just 3 years ago was a stranger or perhaps just a virtual acquaintance. There are women will take your kids when you have reached the end of your rope and women who will hold you while you sob because you are so tired of your life. There are women in this group who talk to me and check in on me more often then I talk to people who have known me my whole life.
There is something amazing about being so deeply understood by others, by being accepted just as you are that does good things for my soul. Knowing that I am not alone makes world so much less challenging. Knowing I have a place to vent and talk and cry gets me through the hard days.
Last year I walked away from Orlando knowing that I was enough, this year I walked away knowing that no matter what I have friends who have my back and love me to my bones. That love is going to get me through the really hard days around here especially the ones that start with a certain finger being showed to me over and over again.
I am, you are, we are, it is ENOUGH was the theme this year in Orlando. It says a lot about how we should think about ourselves and about how we parent our kids who are from hard places. I am enough each and everyday and so are you.
March 14, 2013 1 Comment