Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reality Check

In the past four days, this has been my reality:

* a child hissed at me

* a child bit me

* a child hit me

* a child punched me

* children refused to be potty trained, thus needing a diaper

* a child peed on my deck

* a child peed on my couch

* a child peed on their bedroom carpet

* a child knowingly led our dog outside the fenced-in backyard and shooed the dog into running away. The child then lied to me about it, but did tell the truth when the next door neighbor told us what she witnessed.

* a child constantly told other children lies about "what mom said." Whether they were trying to get the other children in trouble, or whether they were trying to make me look "mean," is anyone's guess

* a child told the adult family member who was watching them for the day, "My mom told me I can't eat any food at your house," and then "cried" about it. When asked why on God's green earth did the child say such a thing, their response was: "I was mad at you that I didn't get to go to ride roller coasters with the Hattie and Atticus."

* an adult family member BELIEVED that I told a child of mine that they could not eat food at that person's house and became really, REALLY upset with me

* an adult family member who reamed me out because it is not fair for me to ask that the rules and restrictions that I put on my children at home be followed at someone else's house, even though those rules & restrictions my children live within keep everyone safe and allow my children to operate at a healthy emotional level (* more on this later)

* a spouse who I was not "connecting with" on how to handle certain behaviors

* a child who is having anxiety issues due to the crazy and unsafe behaviors of another child in our home

* * * * * * * * * *
It seems to me that for most families parenting PTSD/RAD/ODD/whatever the diagnosis kids, there comes a time when you have to grow a set of steel balls and set boundaries and perimeters within extended family and friends outside your own four walls.

I, not an overly confrontational person and one who likes to avoid drama, was kind of hoping we could sneak by this.

Clearly, I can't.

I have two kids, one quite in particular, who need to operate within a set series of boundaries and restrictions because it is best for them.

Because the reality is, I have a child who is frightened to his very core that he will not be able to boss of his own life and if he hands over control to an adult, that adult is going to hurt him (because when he was little and in Haiti, the bosses of his life at that time did hurt him.)

If you have this child of mine in your presence, and he is overly charming, indiscriminately affectionate, playing your emotions, and acts exuberantly "happy," then

Which is something that most adults don't want to realize, because it sucks to think that this adorable young Haitian child is smart enough and manipulative enough to actually be able to play you.

But he can. Please know that I am not trying to vilify my little boy here. It's not because he's some evil villain or heinous child.

He is doing this because it is exactly what he thinks
he needs to do to survive in this big unsafe world.

That fact, that statement causes me much heartache and grief. Because it tears at me every time I think about this tiny little boy who has endured so much and who feels so absolutely unsafe in this world.

It's not a healthy emotional state for my boy to live in. And as his mom, I am doing EVERYTHING I possibly can do, trying everything I can possibly try, and am trying to learn everything I can to help my child not feel that he is constantly unsafe.

So when he is around adults who eat up that affection and literally ooze over him and jump to his every request and just love, love, love on him, in reality, they are feeding the "I and Only I am Boss of Myself" beast that is living within my little guy.

And that beast is not healthy. Not healthy for him. Not healthy for Me the Mom. And until we can teach him to his very core that he IS safe here, that it is OKAY for Mom to be boss of him because Mom really does LOVE him and Mom will keep him SAFE, he can't attach to me.

This boundary setting and enforcing is hard.

It is hard when you see that what you are doing hurts and upsets others.
Even if what you are doing is the best thing for your child.
And even when you see how their intentions are good.

But good intentions are not always healthy.

This whole situation doesn't feel good.

It doesn't feel good when you have to avoid others.

It doesn't feel good when others avoid you because
the boundaries that you set don't 'feel good' to them
or are easy for them to handle
(and they aren't easy!
by no means are they easy!
but the boundaries are healthy,
and that's what is most important)

But it's what we have to do.

This attachment work is hard.

Really, really, REALLY hard.

And, for now, that is the reality of it.


geralyn said...

Articulate, heart-felt, poignant. All I can add is A.M.E.N!

Hang in there. Some of us get it and are still working on growing balls of steel ourselves.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

We are struggling here as well, not that it helps.
I had a few thoughts, take them FWIW, not trying to pretend I know anything, and every situation is different.
To be blunt, family that does not "get it" should get down on their knee's and kiss the ground that they do not get it. They probably never will and for that they should be really grateful. I have tried to explain things to certain family members for years. Finally, I have said, I know this is hard to get because you do not see it but please respect me as the mom that I am not making this stuff up and am doing the best I can. You don't have to agree with it. We are working towards xyz based on xyz and recommended by xyz the super high level professional who knows everything. Or some variation of the above. I had to yank a fork out of the hand of a family member trying to forcefully hand feed my child. Sometimes, it takes awhile.
My other thought is to ask your kids therapist to talk with the family member about things like invisible brain damage, common behaviors in traumatized children etc. Sometimes it will help the person understand that it is not a matter of perception it is a well documented behavior of children just like yours.
Kids who have uninhibited attachment issues will "parent shop". IMO it's a survival mechanism. They are delightful around other people to up their chances of being fed etc when you are not there. It's automatic and has nothing to do with you or the other person, it's as much of an innate drive as breathing.
It's hard. It is SO SO FREAKING HARD! The start of school has turned Genea upside down for 3 years now. That might be affecting your household, and if I remember right this is the time of year your boys came home? Sometimes the memory is traumatic what with all the new things, airplane travel, leaving their country etc.
So like I said, take it for what it's worth. I'm not trying to be know-it-all- ish or you-should- try-ish. I just had a few thoughts to put down.
I hope it gets better SOON!!!!! Like in about FOUR days!!!!

Marta said...

I'm right there with you sister. I pray for stamina and patience, for you, for me, for all parents going thru this right now.

Ava has improved. She is stronger in her attachment now. With Elle it's ongoing, but it's never been as severe. With Stevenson, we are OK 80% of the time. The other 20% is HELL right now. I know that does not sound so bad, especially for families that are in it ALL THE TIME (been there, too) it's just that my stamina is running thin.

My "other people who don't get it" are not family, as they are on the West Coast and I am here. It is the school. Right now I am in prayerful consideration about what may next step will be, because it will be major.

God Bless, and best of luck. I will be praying for you as well. Love you sister!

Pretty Organizer said...

Awhile ago you won a set of hatboxes at my blog. I decided to check back in to see how the adoption process worked out for you. I just wanted to let you know I am battling (literally) a 5 year old daughter with a degree of RAD at this moment. I have 6 kids and am not unfamiliar with how to raise good kids... I have 5 secure and healthy children... I have one who insists on creating drama and power struggles with me to get me to "prove" my love for her. Not many outside our family see it. Not many believe I have these issues here at home. Some believe I am creating the situation myself. I think we both know the reality of the amount of patience it takes to raise a child who doesn't believe they are loved and secure.

My daughter puts up a tough front but I KNOW her heart. She's tender, wants love and acceptance, desires moment to connect with ME more than others in her life and needs consistent boundaries.

Bless you good lady:) You'll make it through and I'll be praying for you. Loving someone who pushes you away is the hardest thing in the world. The Lord sent him to you because he knew you could love him enough. Keep up the good work and if anyone questions you, hold your head high.

bbbunch said...

Hey Sarah,

Thinking of you so much! Thank you so much for coming to the BBQ the other family just loves you! Melissa was overjoyed to meet another Mom of 5 ;)

Hang in there, sister...LOVE YOU!