Making parenting mistakes since 2008

Category — behaviour

From Crisis to Crisis

I love pinball machines, really old ones with actual buttons and paddles and million lights. I could waste a pocket full of change playing them, happily pushing those buttons and flinging those balls from paddle to paddle. The various themes amuse me, the lights and sounds are familiar and comforting, they remind me of the 80’s and of a smaller calmer world.

Lately Pinball has been a pretty good analogy to explain things. I feel as though I am pinball machine ball between paddles and in a giant pinball ball game full of children’s crises. One of my kids is always in crisis it seems and although there are calm patches they are small and filled with the repercussions of the last crisis.

This week Fudge ran away, again. This is not a new behaviour, it is one both Fudge and Calvin have used extensively to try to cope with things that they find overwhelming. This time he was missing for close to 24 hours and he was found quite by accident because someone who knew he was missing saw him. He had mad no attempt to contact us, no attempt to get help, he just wandered the streets all night scared and alone because he could not make a plan to fix the situation he had gotten himself into. It was horrible, it is always horrible when one of them is not where they are supposed to be. Once we had him home we had to pick up the pieces and the running away stemmed from school issues that were underlying things that have continued to blow up all week long. Fudge just does not understand why other teens will not be as forgiving of his behaviour as he would be of theirs.

Ramona creates drama daily, 11 and puberty is killing me. It’s all stuff I can handle but it is so exhausting have to keep your eyes on a kid at all times. She is stealing, sneaking and lying to the best of her ability and I think she gets away with a lot at school that no one even notices. I have been to her rodeo but I was hoping this 3rd trip might be a little less exhausting.

And then there is Calvin who messaged me last night to ask for stuff that we have here in the house that he has decided he has to have. It is stuff I am not going to let a transient 17 year old have, stuff I have saved from when he was a kid and stuff that is not just his but also has been shared with his siblings. When I said he could not have it and explained why he told me yet again that ” he is not my child and it I can control him”. This is his new mantra, I am not his parent and yet he messages me to demand the things that I have saved for him from all the years that he lived here and the memories we built together. He doesn’t seem to understand that he if he hateful and mean to me I am not likely to do the things he asks and there doesn’t seem to be a way to get him to understand that. He is not living in our home, I have million mixed feelings about what has happened with him and am trying hard to work on process it but when he says things like that I just go straight to mad.

Its all chaos all the time and I know that the kids thrive on the chaos, I know their brains think that the chaos is normal but the banging around like a pinball could stop for a bit and that would be ok. I think we would all be able to remember how it feels.

 

November 17, 2017   No Comments

Normal?

I was talking to someone last week about some of Ramona’s antics, I often refer to her as my easy kid and she had gotten kicked off the bus, created some chaos at a birthday party that spilled over into school and then tried to make some other kids feel as bad as she did. While I was rambling on and laughing about how ludicrous it all was the other persons eyes got big. They had been parenting a long time and they had never ever encountered behaviour like I was talking about in any of their kids.

I guess when your version of normal involves having video cameras and door alarms in your home so you can keep everyone safe your reality tends to become a little skewed after awhile. But this is our normal and although it exhausts me and I am so very tired of chaos I often forget that everyone does not live like this. I forget that other families are able to do fun things and not have it end in melt downs or kids asking to go sit the car because their sibling is excluding them and they can’t cope. I forget that tantrums from older kids might not involve smashed dishes or calls to the police when someone doesn’t come home after storming out the front door in a rage and isn’t home by curfew.

The version of normal in my house is exhausting. It has worn me down and there is very little joy found in parenting right now. I try to find it, some days I try to create it or to build it in so that I can feel some joy with my kids who are at home but it is so hard because I have little motivation to do so because it so often ends in disaster. It is easier to let them watch TV and entertain themselves while I hide in my room binge watching Netflix so that we do not have manage functioning in the world outside our home. I know I am not alone, I know other families who are doing the very same thing, trapped in their homes because it is just easier that way.

This is not what I thought I would be doing 10 years after I started parenting, this is not what I planned but this is where I am.

November 6, 2017   No Comments

maybe there will be calm

Calvin is a very angry young man and everyone who knows him can tell. He rages about something most days and lately when he rages he runs. Yesterday went like this

make a mistake, know you are in trouble, run,return, get spoken to and about not hurting siblings, go to room to cool off off, calm down, eat supper, help yourself to something you have already been told is for someone else, get caught, deny it, lie about it, run again, return, have parents try to talk to you about choices, ignore them, yell at them, try to run again, get sent to bed of frustration on part of parents, parent comes in to reassure you that you are loved, ignore them, tell them to go away, other parent tries same thing but now child is hiding under bed, Mama calms herself, puts on patient pants, talks you out and then you try to fold your huge almost 13 year old body into her lap ( as she sits on the floor because she was trying to get you out from under bed) while you have a long good cry about why your birth Mom would not change her life so she could keep you, finally go to bed, exhausted but maybe believing that you are loved.

It makes for really long days and with 3 kids all doing versions of this my time to do things like be here are so limited. I am tired, I am so ready for all of them to take a huge step in a new direction and Calvin needs to lead the way.

May 30, 2013   No Comments

Then the penny drops

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

done

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

Someone broke my babies.

Someone broke my kids. It was not me. Before I knew better,  I probably made things worse for a while  but I was not the one who broke them. I quickly figured out that I was in over my head and started to learn about how to parent these kids in a way that would ensure we would all survive until they were adults. I am still learning though.

That being said my kids are not like kids who were born to me. I have never birthed a child but I do know about family, relationships and child development. My kids are not like biological kids and it frustrates me when people tell me that all kids behave like my kids. Yes all kids do the things that my kids do but attached children who have not experienced trauma do not behave like their whole life depends on lying about whether you took the nail clippers and stashed them in your room. Taking the nail clippers should not create a raging tantrum and days of fallout. But here it does. For kids who have experienced trauma and neglect, this is their normal. Taking those nail clippers, testing that limit with your forever family might mean that you have to leave because you have had to leave so many other places where you wanted to stay so you better deny it, you better protect yourself because if you are vulnerable you might get hurt.

My kids brains are broken. It is not their fault, they did not ask for this.

In-spite of their brokenness I love them fiercely. I love them when they are raging at me and throwing boots at my head. I love them when they scream that I am bitch and that they never wanted to live here anyway. I love them while they sob  ( my heart breaks and I cry right along with them)  about just how very unfair all of this. I love them when they use pee as a weapon of mass destruction and when try to beat the crap of adults and kids alike. I love when they tell me I am not the mother they wanted or that they did not want to be adopted.  I love them they break my stuff and steal things that are special to me. I love them when I have to supervise  them  like a jail guard at every event because one of them might be totally inappropriate of they feel as if they might away with it this time. I love them when they try to manipulate other adults into feeling sorry for them when they are not getting their way. I love them when they pretend they can not do something just to make me crazy or run away and scare the crap out of me. I love them when they remember the pain of their trauma and then spend days making everyone around them miserable because that is how they are feeling inside.

I love these kids in a way that only a mother could and there are days when the last thing I want to do is love them. There are days when I am so angry that I wonder why on earth I ever agreed to this, when I wonder what was I thinking when I signed up for this.

Deep down I know why and most days I actually have to stop and remember that I was thinking they deserved a chance. I was thinking they deserved a family, that they did not deserve to grow up in a world of uncertainty and that knowing you are loved to the core of your being, regardless of your choices,  is so very important.

Parenting these broken babies is so freakin hard, their pain, their anger and their grief has overwhelmed me and yet I am still here. I am still committed. I never knew I was strong enough for this but I am. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, it hurts. There are days when I wish this was not my life. Days when I wish I was just like those people who I used to be friends with, the ones who have regular lives where the effects of trauma does not permeate  every moment. We are not friends anymore, they do not know how to cope with my kids or with the way that I have changed in the last 5 years. There are moments when I miss them, moments when I wish they were able to understand but they are only moments. Then my kids start screaming and they pull me back to reality, that is not my life.

This is my life, someone broke my babies and I am trying to help them heal.

 

February 28, 2013   9 Comments

Keeping it real

I know it’s been quiet around here.

Things have been hard, really hard and when they get hard like that I turn inward, I get depressed and I tend to bury my head in the sand.

About 6 weeks ago something happened with one of the kids, something that made their future, the reality they will live, the challenges they will face seem so much more real than they ever have before. I was angry about what they had done, the child in question did not really understand why I was so angry. 36 hours later after my head and exploded the child did the same thing again. I was so far past mad I could not even talk to the kid. Then 2 weeks ago just after Christmas that same child did a different thing but it was the sort of thing that really made me wonder if anything we ever said was heard or if it was all just gibberish.

The reality is that the child question does not have the ability to understand cause and effect. They should be able to understand that when they bend their finger all the way back it will hurt and then stop doing it but this child can not. They are bending their own finger all the way back, crying because it hurts and not understanding that they are the one who can stop the pain. That may seem like a rather primitive example but some days things just like that are happening.

To top that we are in the heart of  all sorts of big anniversaries for Ramona and that is bringing up all sorts of behaviour which in of itself is more than challenging. I am pretty tired of being called a bitch by a 6 year old. In the midst of all this Ramona made some allegations against a person from her past which a probably true and now we have to deal with yet another interview with social workers.

Last week was one of the hardest weeks I have had in a long time, I was depressed and hiding in my house in my footie pj’s hoping that if I hid long enough spring would come, the light would return and the all the hard anniversaries for my kids would pass and we could just go back to it being summer. It didn’t happen. It’s still winter and they are still being tough as nails.

I did reach out to some friends to vent though, I did express my frustration and sadness and one of my very dear friends made an offer to give me a break, to take all 3 of crazy homeschooled kids so that I could have break. So that is what we are going to do, take a break, without our kids for the first time we are leaving them for a whole week and heading to the southern sun.

The thought of this break, this time to recharge is going to carry me through the next 10 days or so, it is the carrot I so needed. I will also leave all of the people I love and head to Orlando in March which is totally different kind of break and much needed one as well. (If you are interested in coming Orlando because you parent or have parented kids with attachment issues you can find information here)

I am going to be ok, I just need to take of my needs as well as theirs.

January 10, 2013   3 Comments

wash, rinse repeat.

Things are on the repeat cycle. Twice in the last week I have been ready to throw in the towel and each time it has been with a different kid.

I went to our adoption support group tonight and after it ended I stood talking with other Moms, Moms who live my life and it made such a difference.  I so needed them tonight. There are a group of us who keep going, I think we are scaring away other people but oh well, this is it people, this is real, adopting older kids is not all unicorns and rainbows and it most definitely not the same as parenting biological children.

I am tired of trauma.

I love my kids, I would do anything for them but the feeling like a hostage because one of them tries to hurt people when I leave, we do not need that to happen.  And the pushing me till I explode part, we could lose that too, I would be okay with that.

What kid spend 3 hours pretending they are unable to learn to count by 5’s and tells you to go ahead and take their favourite stuff away because they DO NOT CARE – my 6 year old that’s who. That would be the same child who uses every swear word in the book and then hits me when those are not effective.

Yesterday was so many levels of insane I can barely even talk about it without getting angry. I mean that in all honesty. I was so angry and so frustrated that I sat silently for more than hour because if I had spoken I would of said something so horrible to one of my kids that we might never of recovered. They knew how mad I was, they played together without fighting for over an hour. Amazing what  having an insanely angry parent can do.

Someone I love is coming to visit tomorrow and holding on to the joy is going to get me there.

Sometimes it is the little things that make it so that I can try again tomorrow.

November 21, 2012   1 Comment

I spoke too soon

Clearly I spoke to soon. It’s been seven days since Calvin had a tantrum, he didn’t make it to eight.
Frustrated barely begins to cover it.

November 15, 2012   1 Comment

On the upswing

SHHHHHHHH.

Don’t tell anyone but after a couple of very rough weeks here in the great white north we seem to be on leveling back to what is only the normal amount of chaos for our family. I can do chaos and I can do bickering siblings as long as it is not the sneaky lie your face off and beat the crap out of one another siblings that I have been present for the last little while.

I can’t speak this aloud though because if I do it will end.

SHHHHHHHHH

The fact that I am this happy needs to stay between us, whatever you do don’t tell the children.

November 14, 2012   2 Comments