Making parenting mistakes since 2008

Category — Fudge

Love

I have this boy, he is funny, adorable and has the ability to light up a room with his laughter. He has a great sense of humour,  he loves sports and music, he is his little sisters hero. His name is Fudge and I love him in a way that only a mother could. He makes me crazy with his misbehavior and his antics but underneath all that silly little boy behaviour I see a glimmer of the wonderful man that he is going to grow into. A man who will be a fabulous at whatever paths he chooses to pursue because if there one thing that persistence is good for it is being successful.

I have not always been able to speak of him in that way, there was a long time when neither of us wanted to love one another. We have moved through that in many ways, it took a really, really long time, years in fact but then this week, he reminded me how very hard things can be with him.

On Wednesday he took me to a place I have not been to with him for a while, a place where he reminded me just how tenuous our relationship was for much of the first 3 and half years that he was my son.

There was a time about 2 years ago when I had given up hope that Fudge would ever love me. I talked about it then and you can read about here and here. They were dark days for me, days when I thought that things might never get better. Weeks and months when I had to let P be the only parent Fudge’s had because he was not willing to let me be his parent. I cooked his meals and did his laundry, I kissed him goodbye and goodnight but really that was all. P did everything else, all the nurturing, all the conflict resolution, assigning of consequences, all the stuff parents do for their kids was up to him. It was the only way to make it work. Fudge hated me, yes I said hated. It was not me as a person he hated, it was me as his Mom. He had been so hurt and he was missing the Moms he had before so profoundly that there was no way he could attach to another woman who said she was going to be his Mom. He had no reason to trust that I was not going to leave him even though I said was not.

I almost gave up more times than I would like to admit. I almost threw in the towel and stopped trying because I felt like it would never change. In the spring of 2011 he and I started therapy together again. I was committed to giving our relationship a chance to be something more than it was, something more than just a kid and his caregiver which was how I felt. Therapy was hard, he consistently talked about how the grass was greener everywhere else, about how I was not as good as everyone else and how really there was nothing that I could do that would be good enough.

It hurt.

I cried a lot.

But I kept going.  Looking back I am not sure how, I am not sure what kept me going during those really dark months. I know that I was holding on to the fact that if he never attached to me it was not my fault, that I would of done everything I could to make him feel safe and loved. I could only show it to him though, I could not make him love me, that was up to him. There were times when I wondered what giving up would mean for our family, his brother was doing well and after much discussion we decided that it would just mean that P would be his only parent, that was really hard for me to think about and admit.

Week after week we pushed through, things got way worse, way harder and then almost a year after we started things started to change. I wrote this post then, the changes I was seeing in him gave me so much hope for our relationship. He let me do things for him, he came to me for comfort and just to say hello, he wanted to brush my hair and to touch and to be touched. These were all huge steps for him and although there were times when the last thing I wanted was to let him touch me I did it, I sucked it up because I knew that this was what he needed.

When things finally started to change I was apprehensive, I was not sure that this was going to last but it did, he is slowly but surely attaching and it makes life with him so much more enjoyable. It makes me happy to be his Mom, I look forward to being together and not dreading our every interaction.

We have our moments though, it is not all roses and sunshine around here let me tell you. This week I was reminded of that, on Wednesday he and I had an epic blowout, we were both so mad at one another the other kids were steering clear of both of us. Later when we were both calm, I talked through what had happened with him and apologised for totally blowing my top and he looked at me and said, ” you kind of had a right to be that mad, I was being a jerk.” I just about fell off my chair, I was floored by his ability to notice what he had done and admit it such a short time later. He is attaching, I am attaching and we are going to be ok even if it did take 4 years to get here.

This was also posted today at Hopeful Parents, it is a great place, you should go check it out. 

September 8, 2012   6 Comments

44 months and a ball

Fudge has been my son for 44 months which is about 1341 days or 32 184 hours… that’s a lot of hours.

For the first 38 of them he merely tolerated my presence in his life. I was not the Mom he wanted and there was little I could say or do to make him change his mind. In many ways we tolerated each other, he tried to make me miserable ( and succeed frequently) while I tried to make him love me. Although I did make some progress ( in the processing of teaching him to trust me) I really felt like was rowing backwards at the edge of a waterfall. He did come to me for comfort on occasion, he did occasionally reach out to me, there was a part of him that wanted to be loved but the walls he had built around his heart where solid and very, very high.

He let P in first and as a result for a long time P did much of the parenting of Fudge on his own. I met his day-to-day physical needs but when it came to handing out consequences or dealing with big issues P handled it. I supported him as best I could, I participated and Fudge knew we were in this together but since he was so very good at making me crazy it was easier to step away and let P deal with it.

There were so many days when I felt as though nothing was ever going to change and that I had to be ok with that. He might never attach to me, it may always feel as though he is someone else’s child and I am just taking care of him. I began to accept that he might never heal in the ways that his brother had. In many ways I had given up hope that anything was ever going to change. We were destined to tolerate one another’s presence, nothing more and as heartbreaking as that was for me I had accepted it as best I could.

( please excuse me while I now compare my relationship with my son to a baseball game)

Then one day in October, literally out of left field there was a ball, he threw it to me and I caught it. It was a small ball, a little tiny piece of love thrown from him to me. Slowly but surely he started to throw more and more tiny little love balls in my direction. Weeks passed although he was still throwing little love balls my way he was also throwing great big huge balls that screamed you don’t love me enough to keep me. As he threw those huge screaming balls he tested out how he could make me stop loving him. Catching those huge balls as they screamed toward me was infuriating and hopeful at the same time.

This past week he ran out of left field, circled the bases and met me at home plate. He ran straight into my waiting arms. I think he might be here to stay ( that doesn’t mean he’ll stop testing but he believes me when I say I love him) and it warms my heart to think that maybe, just maybe he might let me love him the way he deserves to be loved.

He is a fabulous kid with a compassionate and loving heart and I am so glad that he is finally trusting enough to let me take a little piece of it and keep it all for me, his Mama.

April 27, 2012   8 Comments

Cathartic

Fudge and I go to therapy together every week. We are working on his attachment, it is long and slow and some days it is an uphill battle from the moment we walk through the door.Some weeks his therapy means that I need therapy after but I don’t have a therapist anymore. That is not to say that I will never have one again but at this moment in my life I do not have one so after therapy with Fudge on Tuesday left me close to the edge of a cavern of self-pity I did the only thing I could think of, I had a good cry.

Crying is cathartic, sometimes I think I should do it more often.

Luckily for me there was space and time for me to do that, I took Fudge back to school, went and got a latte and let myself be sad for a while. Then I sucked it up, dried my tears and went to pick up my kids. Once we got home I realised that if I did not talk to Fudge about the things that he said in therapy that day it was going to be a long afternoon because I was hurt and upset by being told that nothing in his world is ever good enough and life here sucks. There was no way that I could just let that go and not mention how it made me feel even though I try not to bring home the stuff he says in therapy this time I did.

So I calmly approached the issue in a cavalier sort of way, he got mad, I got upset, we went back and forth for a long time. Finally he heard what I was saying, he heard that I was hurt because I work hard at being his Mom and constantly being told I am not what he wants is hard to hear. It took us about an hour but he finally realised just how much what he said hurt and asked for a hug, he melted into me and had a good cry because he is grieving, grieving is hard and crying is cathartic for kids too.

He felt better after that and so did I. I took a risk telling him how he made me feel, it could have made things worse. I really had no idea what he would say when I told him how hurt I was but once he got past mad I realised that it was the right thing to do. He needs to learn that words hurt too, sometimes way more than fists.

 

December 15, 2011   5 Comments

Not typical kid behaviour

I often hear from other parents that my kids behaviour is typical, that I shouldn’t be so hard them. I often just smile and nod because it is not worth the battle. Last nights actions give me a great story for the next time someone says that to me.

Yesterday I realised after a rough 24 hours around here that I needed to shake things up with my kids. I sat down at my sewing machine and made them new quilt covers ( had been meaning to for ages) and once I got them put on to the boys beds I sat down and wrote them each a letter.

I am going to share Calvin’s here because the one I wrote for Fudge talks about stories that are not mine to share.

Dear Calvin,

You have had a rough couple of weeks. I see you behaving in ways that you used to behave in when you were scared as a little kid. There are a lot of things going on in our lives that might be scary for you. I need you to know and remember that no matter what I am here for you and I am not going anywhere. I might yell and scream and get mad but I will never, EVER, EVER leave you.

I know that sometimes it is hard to be adopted and to understand all the things that happened to you. It is hard for me as a grown up to understand it all and I am not even the one who lived it, you are.

Calvin, I need you to always remember that everyone makes mistakes, me, you, Dad, Fudge, it happens. We learn from our mistakes and try to make better choices next time. I see you making awesome choices so often and I am so proud of how hard you are working to make choices that will be helpful.

You are a wonderful kid and I thank God everyday that you are my son, don’t forget that.

Love

Mom

I  put the letters on their beds and when they got home from school I sent them up to their room to see what I had done. They were both thrilled. I heard them share their letters with one another, I got huge hugs and thank you’s. I knew the love and thank you’s were the first (good) shoe and thought that the other (bad) shoe might drop but we got through the afternoon and then dinner and dishes without it dropping. I thought I might get off scott free, I thought maybe there had been enough healing that they could receive a gift and some positive affirmations and not have to pay me back for having the audacity to tell them I loved them.

I was wrong.

Just as they were finishing the dishes Fudge got a paper towel to wipe some spilled water up off the floor, then he walked over to the stove and squeezed the water from the paper towel into the large pot of soup that was on the stove from supper.

His brother tattled on him ( thankfully!) and we spent the next hour trying to get him to talk. It was a long hour. We were calm, well not really at first but we managed to get calm. I did walk away once and we were angry but I think we were pretty justified in our anger.

See the thing is we are challenging Fudge to heal, we are challenging him to realise that many of his behaviours are hurtful to the people around him and he needs to change them. In therapy we are challenging him to deal with the pain of his past and his many losses. We are forcing to him to go to places he would rather not go but we know that if he does not work through them he is going to remain a very, very angry little boy.

I am not for a minute justifying his behaviour and he is indeed on a very short leash when he is around any food at all until further notice. But, there is a part of me that understands that because I told him I was never, ever going to give up on him he needed to see if I meant it.

Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

 

December 9, 2011   7 Comments

walk away

I walked away from Fudge this morning, well first I started to get frustrated then I thought about just making him comply ( read yelling till I got what I wanted) with my request  but then I realised that would get me nowhere. So instead I walked into his room, turned out the lights, closed his curtains and told him that perhaps he needed more sleep. I lifted him into his bed, said goodnight and closed his door. He yelled and screamed for about 5 minutes and then he realised that I was not playing and stopped hollering.

When I was ready I went back and asked him if he was ready to start his day again. He said he was. I let him know that I was not interested in starting my day by fighting with him and if that was how he wanted to behave then he was welcome to get some more sleep because clearly he was over tired. He was not interested in missing school so he pulled it together.

All of this was because I heard him hollering at his brother, who then tattled on him which caused me to ask him a question. Yes, I asked my child a question about what happened with his brother. He did not want to answer, I kept asking, he began to lie and shift the blame. I began to get frustrated, I told him that I did not want to play games, just answer the question – it was a hard question – I asked what they were fighting about. He would not answer so instead of continuing the battle I walked away, he kept yelling so I went back to his room and put him back in his bed. It worked, it stopped the spiral of destruction* we were getting into where he yells, I yell louder and then I give him a consequence because I am the adult and I can do that. But that spiral teaches him nothing except that I am louder than he is and I can get what I want because I am the adult. It is not healing, it is not therapeutic, it does not foster attachment.

I do not do it often enough, Fudge and I often get into the spiral of destruction because I forget that he is still healing. I forget that he is not his brother and they are not in the same place in terms of their attachment to me. I forget because the chinese water torture games that he plays with me do exactly what they are supposed to do, drive me crazy. Crazy Mama yells at him, crazy Mama loses her temper and freaks out which reinforces him that I do not love him and that he is not good enough to be loved.

We go through this almost every day, it gets exhausting. He pushes me into the spiral, I take the bait and down we go. There are times when I am successful as I was this morning, times when I can step away but more often than not he is back at dripping water on my forehead before the day is through.

I think I need to a shirt to go with my patient pants that say – end the spiral of destruction…

*my own personal super clinical term

October 25, 2011   5 Comments

Big Emotions

Yesterday Fudge and Calvin got caught trying to blow themselves up with a barbecue, well I am reasonably certain their goal was not to blow themselves up but it could of definitely been an outcome of playing with it. Regardless of what their motivation was they were in trouble, lots of trouble.

Calvin showed an appropriate amount of remorse, understood the problem ( cause dead is not really something you can come back from), apologized, accepted his consequence and moved on.

Fudge not so much.

Fudge wailed and gnashed his teeth and generally tried to convince us that we were being to hard on him. We were unmoved. He continued to wail and cry and then once the flood gates had opened the damn broke and the poor boy cried about all the things that he has been carrying around for the last little while.

He cried about his sister and why we could not adopt her, about why they were not together and how he had not seen her. I held him and the poor boy just kept on crying. He doesn’t understand and there is no way to make it make sense to him because I can not make it make sense for me. Anne is clearly in crisis again and we are as usual, shut out, due to stupid rules about confidentiality and such. How do you explain that to a 9 year old who wants to see his sister.

Once we had heard about Anne for a bit he started to talk about how hard it is to wait for more kids, how he is trying to patient but he does not want to be patient anymore and he just wants it to happen already. You and me both buddy was about all I could say to that. I wish we could make this whole process easier but sadly that is not something I can control.

Then he just lay in my lap for awhile sniffling and sobbing. Fudge carries everything so deep inside his heart, he is so afraid to talk about his feelings that when he finally does there is a flood of emotion that overwhelms all of us. It’s hard.

We cuddled and then moved on with our night. He is still mad at us because we would not budge on our consequence and he might still be mad next week but oh well.

We will be leaving shortly for Toronto, if you have not yet bought a raffle ticket please consider doing that and help us raise money for adoption in Ontario. The raffle closes tonight and the boys and I will draw names and post the winners in the morning.

September 24, 2011   4 Comments

chaos

Fudge thrives on chaos. I think that it makes him feel calmer inside to know that everything around him is turned upside down. He has spent a great deal of that last week of his life creating chaos both at home and elsewhere. I am worn out and close to the edge, I have yelled at him more times than is good and now I am paying the price because he knows that he is annoying me so he just keeps doing it.

Luckily for me P was home last night and I was in a good mood this morning and P was home this morning as well and we out crazied his crazy behaviour and moved on. He was going on and on about being yelled at even though no one yelled at him so I had him close his eyes,I spun him around, put his hands on his head, stick out his tongue and say I love you. It worked, it broke the pattern but oh my he was making me crazy.

Last night he turned a little tiny thing into a huge 20 minute tantrum, it was really just a little thing that he did to annoy Calvin, no one was mad we just wanted him to repeat what he said… you would think that we pulled a gun on him the way he reacted to the simple request to repeat himself. Dinner was late, we listened to him yell, both boys were in tears and P and I just stood there looking at one another wondering when we got an invite to live in crazytown – who lives like this – trauma mamas and papas that’s who.

I am a better parent when I have had enough sleep, caffeine, food and P is home. I can parent just fine without P but he helps keep things calm by dealing with Fudge’s increasing behaviours and at least 3 times this week I have needed him to deal with Fudge because other wise I would just yell at him.

Fudge can trigger my anger in a way that shocks and worries me. He knows how to push my buttons in a way that I have never encountered in a small person before. I know that, it helps that I know that because it allows me to process his behaviour and it also helps me to step away and let someone else deal with him.

Today when we were at the optometrist I sent Fudge in to the exam room alone because I knew that if we were together I would just constantly be telling him to stop playing with things and fidgeting while the optometrist was going to be a whole lot more patient than I was. I sat in the waiting room and knit instead until I had to go in because he needs glasses, like his brother, which is a whole different post for a different day.

It has been hard to learn where my edge with Fudge but I know now and whenever I can I pass the reigns to P. I  need to say that I commend single parents, I do not know how you do it, really I have no idea. I also need to say that P keeps me sane and makes me be a better parent. Sometimes we disagree but mostly we are on the same parenting page and that makes being a mother to my boys a whole lot easier.

June 4, 2011   4 Comments

Sometimes I do not want to to admit it…

Sometimes I do not want to admit it but there are days when Fudge is the last person on earth I want to spend time with. There are days when I force myself to tell him that I love him. There are days when I put a smile on my face and say fake it till you make it lady, you can do this. There are days when I would like give up and stop trying to help him heal.

Being his Mom has been really hard for the last year.

Before that it was easy because Calvin took up all the space with his behaviours. Calvin was raging and yelling and hurting us and so Fudge was the complaint well behaved child. Then Calvin stopped raging and started attaching and Fudge did not know what to do. It was his experience that Calvin’s behaviours would cause them to move and so if Calvin was not raging and making life miserable for everyone then he better step in and fill that space.

He has done a stellar job at being a first class shit disturber for the last 10 months.

The difference between Fudge and Calvin though is that Fudge is not a rager, he is passive and he is smart and he works hard to push you right the the very edge and then he stops. He works hard to create chaos and make  people angry, I mean that, he really does work at it. His teachers comment on how he seems to be trying to push kids away at school and at home he is often sweet and caring towards his father and horrible to me. He is doing on purpose, he is trying to make himself unlovable because he believes that he not worthy of being loved.

We are working on changing that for him, we are working on getting him to heal but oh my goodness it is HARD.

When he is in trouble we always talk about the hows and whys of what we have done. His newest behaviour is to wait me out, he thinks that if he refuses to answer me for long enough eventually I will give in a yell at him. I have resolved within myself to not let him win this one and so I will not yell or do any of the other things that he would like me to do in order to feed into his negative self image. I just wait.

We had one of those waiting days yesterday, It literally took 4 hours before he would answer a simple question and out of respect for his privacy I am not going to get into what that conversation was about but needless to say after 4 hours I was pretty tired of waiting. I finally let him know as we got towards 9:30 that I was done for the day and that we could resume this conversation in the morning. I pushed a little and held out a carrot (or a threat depending on your point of view) about our plans for this afternoon that he did not know about and let him know that if we needed to continue this conversation tomorrow they would not be happening.  He started to cry, real tears, not the crocodile ones he does so well. I pushed a little harder and finally he answered.

“I (insert behaviour) because I like the way it makes me feel” he said. It was the truth, you could see the shame he felt about admitting to the fact that he was doing this on purpose in his eyes. He clearly had never been that honest about this before and he was taking a huge risk by saying it aloud

I just about jumped for joy, but I was tired and he did not need to see me jumping up and down because that would of confused the poor tired boy. The point is he was honest, it took four hours but he was honest about a choice that he made and honest about the reason that he was doing it.

That my friends is huge, a huge monumental step for a boy who is so very afraid of being loved. Fudge trusted me enough to admit that he is doing something on purpose, doing it because he enjoys it regardless of it’s impact to others. He trusted me enough to share something that he had probably never said aloud before even though he was terrified of what might happen when he spoke those words, he did, he said it.

I hugged him. That’s what I did. Then we talked about the behaviour and how it needs to change. We talked about how sometimes even though we like something that does not make it ok. We went to bed and as I tucked him I said to him, you know it would of been a whole lot easier if we did not spend 4 hours getting here, he agreed.

Today he is in a good mood and is doing as he  is asked, well except at breakfast but that was not a big deal, just some poking to see what Mom is going to do when Dad is sitting right there. So I am going to keep on faking it on the days it is really hard and enjoy him on the good days and trust that he is going to attach, even if it does take a really long time.

March 15, 2011   9 Comments