Dear Teacher

Dear Teacher:

I don’t want your unsolicited advice on how to handle my kid at home.  No offense intended, but here’s why:

  • She has a plethora of therapists/doctors already working on her care that know a lot more about her diagnosis and treatments, and have decades of training in these fields.
  • I get unsolicited advice from people all the time.  It gets old.

So if I seem frustrated with you, I’m sorry.  But here’s the deal: Most of what you tell me is either going to blow up in my face or has already been tried and failed.  Your experience and training is with neurotypical, undamaged children.  My child is brain damaged, literally, from trauma, abuse, neglect, fetal alcohol, fetal drug abuse, a multitude of things that made my child anything but neurotypical in how her brain works.  I’m not trying to be rude by shutting you down when you start rolling off the advice.  I’m not trying to be a “non-compliant” parent.  But in reality, you do not have anything to offer me.  I, however, have plenty to offer you which is why I’m here.

You may not see the behaviors in my kid that I do.  If I’ve chosen to share the details that I see with my kid, then you should take that as an honor that I’ve entrusted you with the details of my child’s life.  That doesn’t mean I’m looking for advice.  I’m trying to give you insight into how my child thinks and what drives my child when she’s in your care.  I certainly do not expect, intend, or want you to take these details and share them with ANYONE ELSE – EVER.

All kids behave differently in different situations.  That’s reality.  So when say “I NEVER see that here, little Janie is soooooo sweeettt!” the message you are sending is: YOU are doing something wrong, parent, because I don’t see the behavior here, so YOU must be causing the behavior.  In this day and age, that just is contrary, not only how neurotypical kids act in general, but also contrary to psychology of trauma children as well.  Trust me, as the parent, because the only thing I’m doing is trying to make my child successful.  It’s a painful, horrible journey at times, and I need your support.  And you may need mine when my child brings out her true self in your classroom.

If you really want to help my child – not this group of kids this year as a whole, but MY child – then work with me, not against me.  Don’t judge me or waste our precious meeting time with advice on my parenting skills when I’ve already told you all the doctors and specialists already involved her care.   When I say, “Don’t overpraise my kid for things she should/can already do” and your response is, “But all kids need praise! It makes her whole face light up!” I know I’ve already lost this battle.  My kid has won, all she has to do, instead of learning and trying harder under your care, is do something she can easily do, and wait for your praise, and give you a fake facial expression, and she’s off the hook for actually working and learning in school.  You’ve been manipulated and you’re not listening to the one person on this planet who wants this child to succeed more than anything in life.  You’re talking to the person who would die for this child, jump in front of a bus for her, do you really think I don’t want her to be praised when she does well?

I get it, my kid is hard.  She requires thought and not roboting your way through a teacher day, and doing what you’ve always done in the same old way.  You as a teacher have a lot to do in that classroom with all those little minds.  And you’ve got a lot of special needs little minds in there too, each with their own special way of looking at things, and mine’s just another square peg being shoved into a round hole.  I do get that, I think teachers are the greatest and I think they are wonderful.  I had the best teachers and education growing up, even though I was in a teeny tiny rural area.  I wish the same for my children, to get the best education they can.

I’m trying to work with you.  If I’ve shared details of her life outside of the classroom it’s because I trusted you, and I felt it was necessary to help you in helping my child.  You’re not the first one to throw it back in my face, and you won’t be the last.  But my child is not the first child of trauma you’ve encountered, and she won’t be the last.  So I hope the next time you see a frustrated mom snap at you to listen to her rather than blaming her for what’s happening at home, you think of this mom and dad crying themselves to sleep because this young girl is destroying her life at such a young age because of the trauma she endured, the money they’ve spent, cleaned out their bank accounts to find help outside of what’s allowed on their healthcare plan, no vacations for this family, no new cars, it all goes into medical for this child, you think about the fear these parents have if their child continues down the path they are going – because they’ve seen it before, in other children with the same issues – where they see their child on the streets, in a life of crime, being abused or being the abuser, and how it breaks their hearts because they love them so much.  Dear Teacher, think of this mom who took a risk to share details with you in order to help you help her child, and what she goes through every day in trying to help her child.  And maybe, just maybe, next time, you can give a bit of grace if the exhausted mom gets a bit snappy when you keep interrupting her.  And just maybe, instead of cutting off communication and writing the mom off as crazy, think about what this mom is trying to do for her kid.  So many parents of the children in your classroom don’t even show up for anything.  They don’t sign paperwork, help with homework, communicate with you in any way, shape or form.  Their children wake up by themselves, fix their own breakfast, and walk to school, locking the door behind them.  Here’s a parent who is involved and wanting to help their child.  You should respect that.



It’s a bit much, ain’t it?

I’m going to veer off from my regular topic a bit and talk about the gorilla and the boy.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve been asleep for a week, have no internet or television, or are blissfully unaware of the world around you.

I am not following the story, even.  I am not purposefully reading articles on it other than a few headlines to see what happened and that the boy is ok. But holy effn shit, is that mom getting crucified on social media.  People on my Facebook friends list are posting horrific mean memes about here and even meaner comments. OMG.  Of course me, with my big mouth, is speaking up and probably my friends list on Facebook is becoming smaller by the day.  Am I defending the woman, saying she’s the pillar of all motherhood? No, because I don’t know.  But neither am I calling her names and belittling her on social media.  Again, because I. DON’T. KNOW.  I wasn’t there.

I do, however, know 4 yr old children, especially boys.  I do know what it’s like to have multiple kids in public and having one have a meltdown or an owie or whatever that you have to attend to and for a second your attention is focused on the one child.  And in that small space of time, anything can happen.  I would never expect that my four year old could that easily get into the habitats at the zoo!  And all those judgey-judgies who WERE there, at the moment – didn’t THEY see him, before he fell in the moat?  Why didn’t THEY grab him before he fell?

Everybody’s blaming the mom for the death of the gorilla.  When it comes down to it, the boy’s life was more important than the animal’s, sorry, that’s my opinion.  This is a child.  A child who believes in Spiderman and the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus.  He couldn’t possibly have understood the ramifications of his actions.  The mom wasn’t dangling him over the edge for a picture op, or so he could “see better”, she didn’t toss him over because she was tired of being a mom. She was distracted by another child for a few seconds.

Society, if you want to verbally bitch-slap parents, I’ve got a whole lot of them for you to line up and criticize, but I don’t think this situation, this mom, is one of them.  I don’t think the “meanest mom ever ice cream lady” is one either.  Let’s save our verbal, anonymous holier than thou lashings for crappy parents who really deserve it.  I’ve got all kinds of dead babies beaten to death, or scarred for life by abuse from their parents.  Those parents deserve more than a verbal lashing.  Those are parents in my opinion you are welcome to whelp on.  But a moment of distraction, come on, every parent has dozens of those in their child’s lifetime.  Some turn out ok… and some don’t.

–Keeping it Real


What do I do?

That picture, that was our dream, wasn’t it, when we adopted?  Those adorable moments of having children, the joy, the perfect photographable moments, the heart moments?  But instead we ended up with something out of a Stephen King novel

What do we do?

That’s what parents keep asking.  What do I do when… my kid keeps hurting my heart?  when my kid refuses to heal?  when I don’t like my kid?  when I’m ready to run away from home?  when I’m ready to give up? when…..

Dear friends, I’m going to get Biblical on you for just a moment.  It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not, or you are a Buddhist or a Hindu or an atheist… the general principal applies.  The quote just happens to be from the Bible.  “Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Here’s what I mean:  Believe in a higher power.  Believe in more than yourself.  Believe in the power of healing.  Believe in miracles, for you and your child.  That doesn’t mean throw everything else to the wind, and stop therapy – it means when everything else is failing – keep believing.  It means if you pray – pray.  Ask others to pray.  If you believe in Reiki – have it performed.  Whatever it is – that higher power – use it.  On you, on your children.  Whatever doesn’t harm might help.

The second part is actually a two-parter. Loving your neighbor as yourself.  Well, first that means you have to LOVE yourself.  Sometimes love is a feeling, a fuzzy warm oh look at the kitten or oh-my-god-i-love-red-velvet-cake feeling.  But love is also an action.  A I-can’t-stand-to-look-at-your-face-I’m-so-mad-but-I-am-still-doing-your-dirty-laundry action.  Now apply it yourself.  As parents of trauma kids who manipulate others and beat us up verbally and emotionally and sometimes physically, we get beaten up at home, and we get beaten up everywhere else as the kids make everyone else think we are horrible mean people when we’re not. We are beaten down from all sides.  On top of that we are constantly not just second-guessing but third, fourth and fifth-guessing ourselves that we are making mistakes, that we did something wrong, when we do make mistakes we flog ourselves relentlessly.  We don’t allow ourselves to be human.  Ever.  Well I say LOVE YOURSELF.  Actively LOVE yourself.  Give yourself grace.  Pamper yourself.  Take care of yourself.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, psychologically.  You can’t give what you ain’t got.

Then love your neighbor – aka your child.  It doesn’t say “your nice neighbors, your good neighbors”, etc.  It says all of them.  So… apply that to your children.  Love them equally.  Again back to that sometimes love is a feeling and sometimes it’s pure action.  Loving your children equally does not mean everybody gets a popsicle at the end of the day.  It means providing for them equally according to their needs.  I don’t buy each of my kids a new pair of shoes just because one of them needs a new pair.  Does that mean I am not treating them equally?

Take care of yourself.  Realize you are doing the best you can.  The results are not up to you, only that you do your best and provide all the resources you can for your child to heal.  The rest is up to your child and “that higher power” (even if that higher power is fairy dust).

Hang in there!


The Moon

The moon was very visible today.  Late afternoon even, it was still completely visible in the sky, and I couldn’t help but marvel at it as I walked to my van.  But even when I can’t see it, I know it’s there.  I don’t need to take it on faith, really, because it’s effects are constant: it affects  the earth itself, the tides, and it can even block out the entire sun at times. It is a constant force.

Such is trauma with our kid.  My mostly healed son was ranting at the misbehavior of some foster kids who were visiting our home.  He was going on and on at how the siblings were attacking each other, not listening, etc.  He ended his tirade with “Boy, you guys sure got lucky with us!”  An expression must have crossed my face in that split second, because his big grin faltered and he said, “Didn’t you?  We never acted like that, did we?”  I just smiled sweetly at him, which he knew (correctly) meant oh hell  yeah and he turned way muttering to himself, “We were like that?  Really? Oh my gosh poor Mom and Dad!  I can’t believe we did those things!  Oh boy!”  That’s the first time I think he ever crossed that line of understanding in his mind.  Now in a day, a week, a year, that trauma will raise it’s ugly head again in that child and his behavior will show it and he’ll have yet something else to work through and he’ll forget all about this experience, but for now, he is starting to understand himself by learning through their life experiences.  But the force beneath the surface, for now invisible behind the sunshine, is still there, is still guiding him, driving him to some degree.  Our goal is to weaken the force, but it will never be completely powerless.

As parents of trauma kids, we need to remember and understand the force the trauma will always have in our kids, even when fully healed and attached – it does not mean the force is not still there affecting their decisions, thoughts, and emotions.  Like the moon, it will always be there.  It doesn’t mean we have failed as parents, or even screwed up at all.  It truly is a power in and of itself.

Hang in there –



How do you not parent out of fear when your child is out of control and has attachment issues?

Use the fear to do what you need to do to keep him and your family safe – motion detectors, alarms, cameras – locks – whatever it takes to alert you when he is in an area he should not be in. After that – you have to let it go and know you’ve done your best. Document everything, have a therapist and all his paperwork with his diagnosis, drs who support you, etc PRINTED OUT in a binder and take it everywhere when you go on trips. I say printed out because they take it more seriously if it’s printed off a computer vs. handwritten, even if it’s written by you. I understand your fears. I wake up every day in fear of “what’s next”… how will he escalate, will he escalate… but the future is not my problem – THIS MOMENT IS. IN THIS MOMENT I must make sure, to the best of my ability, that my family is safe, he is safe, my animals are safe (if I have any), the children in our neighborhood are safe, the things important to me are safe (keepsakes). So I do what I have to do to protect them. IN THIS MOMENT I must work on attach with this child, touch him lovingly, make eye contact with soft eyes, use a firm but gentle voice. IN THIS MOMENT I must be aware of the needs of my other children, and not let them go on the back burner regardless of the chaos my RAD is causing. If we need to go on a family trip without him, so be it. If we need to go to a movie without him, then we do. If he needs to rage in his room while my other children and I bake cookies together and sing silly songs, we do. But most important of all, in this moment, I must breathe deeply, listen to my body, and take care of myself first.



Stages of Attachment Parenting – Part Two

Shock and denial – Pain and Guilt – Anger and Bargaining – Depression and Loneliness – The Upward Turn – Reconstruction of your life and Working Through – Acceptance and Hope.  Sound familiar?

I think we work through those stages constantly throughout our child’s life, as do all parents of special needs kids. The reason I keep pointing that out (special needs kids) is because when you look at it from that perspective, we are in a HUGE group, we are not alone, and there are so many people experiencing the exact same feelings as we are. It’s not just “RAD” or adoptive parents, it’s all parents mourning the loss of the life they thought they’d had – and learning that (a) it’s ok to have had those dreams and (b) it’s ok to mourn their loss, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your child and (c) it doesn’t diminish your child in any way to mourn your expectations of life.

So work through those feelings, don’t bury them, or allow yourself to be consumed with guilt.  See a grief counselor if you need to.  There’s no shame in that!    Allow yourself to mourn so that you can move on.  And you can, and you will.  This may not be the train you thought you were getting on, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be an enlightening journey, worthwhile, all the same.

Hang in there!


Are there stages of attachment parenting?

“I feel like I’m stuck in a rut.  Are there stages of attachment parenting, like there are stages of grief?”  This was a question posed in a large on-line forum.

The poster hit the nail in the head so much closer than he/she realized.  Feeling stuck in a rut in your attachment process to your attachment challenged child is an indicator that something is out of whack with you.  Now that’s not a judgement or pointing a finger.  Bear with me.  With attachment challenged children, or mentally ill children, kids with conduct disorder, etc. we are asked to go against nature, instinct that has kept humans alive for thousands of years.  We are asked to love even though we are being abused, we are asked to forgive when no forgiveness is asked, we are asked to give when we are constantly being taken from.  As a matter of human survival, we instinctively recoil from abusive relationships.  We have bad feelings towards that person, we get angry, bitter, feel used.  We don’t have happy happy joy joy thoughts about that person!  If these situations were in a spousal relationship, you’d tell your friend to leave the abusive bastard (assuming your friend is a she)!  But when it’s our child, whether adopted, step, or bio, we’re supposed to just go, oh, ok, that’s ok, beat me some more, call me some more names, wreck my house some more, that’s ok because you’re my kid, I have no bad feelings about it?  Not possible!

We have to be super human, in a sense, and go against nature to help in the healing of our kids.  We have to respond therapeutically when we want to rage and scream right back.  And the only way I’ve seen to do that is to have your own emotional tank filled to the top, so that you have all this extra to give a child that never gives back.  Every day things in life take from us emotionally, even spiritually, and drain our tanks to a certain level.  Our spouse will drain it some.  Our “normal happy children” will drain it even on the best of days, especially when they’re teens.  But a kid with attachment issues, trauma backgrounds, will suck the tank dry in seconds.  And if you’ve got a low tank to begin with, they’re going to feel like they’re sucking the life out of you.  Which in a way, they are.

This is the one time in life when it is critical that moms – parents – put themselves first.  #1 priority is themselves, their relationship first.  That may mean Precious doesn’t get to go to Disney every year because mom and dad need a week away from the kids.  That’s ok, because in the long run, you are doing your kids a lot more good than Mickey Mouse.  It may mean Mr. Charming doesn’t get to shop at Hollister because mom and dad are taking a cruise so that everybody waits on them hand and foot.  Again, Hollister won’t notice, Mr. Charming will throw fits anyway, and you will get a lot more mileage out of that cruise than the worn-twice sweatshirt that ends up in the back of the closet.

So – no guilt.  Do what you need to do to take care of YOU – in healthy ways! Take time away, eat right, exercise, join a gym, date your spouse, hazard pay the babysitter, whatever it takes – do it.  In the long run that’s the best thing you can do for your kids, both the troubled and the rest, because you’ll have more to give to all of them.

Hang in there.


Good Info for your Teachers/Schools

I just came across this article and it is spot on.  It’s fairly long, but is awesome information to go over with your school, your kid’s teachers, assistants, and anyone that has regular contact with your child in school.  It explains their behaviors very well, the whys behind it, and supports the parents.


The Attachment Disordered Child and School

Oh yeah, and it’s from The Institute for Attachment & Child Development, and some something you’ve written down and sent to the teacher/principal.  After all, you’re “just” the parent, what could “you” possibly know about child-rearing and your child in particular? (shaking head)  Or maybe your child is in a good school and they actually listen to you and respect what you have to say.  If that’s the case, hurray! and here’s more info to give them.  I like how it explains things out in layman’s terms and details the common behaviors in school vs. home.

I kind of laughed while I was reading this, because I was in the middle of the passive-aggressive portion of the article when my attachment challenged child went into the living room and started watching a show his older brother had requested to watch… something maybe a bit old for him, maybe not, but certainly something he needed to ask if he could watch, since it wasn’t on “their” tv (which is locked down six ways from Sunday as far as channels go).  I said that he needed to ask before watching that program with his brother.  In typical form, rather than just ask right then if he could watch it (the answer would have been yes), he got up and went back into the playroom and turned on cartoons.  That’s such a typical example of “You’re not in control of me”.  Passive-aggressive, not in your face defiant, but I am certain that will be added to his list of infractions he keeps in his mind and he will “get even” later, even if later is a year from now (providing he hasn’t made a breakthrough by then).

We are lucky that his teacher is on board with us and does everything we suggest (like not repeated warnings, not buying into the “poor me” crap, victim thing he plays at school so much).  I had hoped that it meant he would do well this year, because instead of spending the first part of the year charming the teacher, playing the little games, then seeing how much he could get away with and upping the ante every week, so by the end of the school year the teacher is pulling her hair out and calling me every day (even though she’d been warned!), I thought that maybe if the teacher was on board from the get-go, and his little charm games didn’t work, that maybe he’d focus on the work.  It’s halfway through the school year and I can say this year, with this child and where he’s at emotionally/mentally, it’s been a failure.  He’s not the biggest or worst behaved child in his class (usually by this point in time, he really pours on the juice).  So for me, that’s a win.  For his teacher, OMG, that poor person!  But academically, he’s not doing well at all.  He “can” do well, as a lot of our kids are, he’s quite bright intellectually, but thinks he knows everything and has no need to learn what they are teaching him in school.  Some days he does above his grade level, other days, it’s like his first day in this country not understanding the language.  And I’ve watched it long enough to know it’s not based on events, things happening at home, traumaversaries, none of that.  It’s something he turns on and off at will.  And he can even verbalize that.

I’m not sharing all this with you for any other reason except to commiserate with you.  Same boat, we’re in, rowing as hard as we can to get to the other side, but a bunch of jerks on a speedboat named Trauma keeps throwing us off course!

Hang in there.



Pre-Trauma Momma Me

Pre-Trauma Momma Me remembers the story of the two local boys, aged 10 & 8, who accidentally set fire to a scrap yard – where they had sprayed gasoline all around and then continued to play, completely oblivious to the danger – until the entire place exploded around them.   (One boy was burned over 98% of his body – you read that right, he survived – and the other 28%.)  Pre-Trauma Momma me remembers my judgement of those boys at that time.  “Well at least the trouble-makers were hurt instead of innocent people.”   “They deserved to get hurt doing what they did.”


It’s 25 years later, and those brothers are still alive.  25  years later, I am a mom to traumatized children.  I know a lot about kids who do things they shouldn’t do, regardless of how their parents try to parent them away from dangerous situations.  I am a parent of children whose 10 year old was doused in gasoline (thank God no fire) because the 8 year old broke into the neighbor’s garage and stole some, thinking it’d be fun to play with.  I am the lucky parent without burned children and whose house did not explode or whose child did not burn down the neighbor’s house with them inside accidentally.

The brothers from the fire have spent the last 25 years (after recovering) trying to help other kids who have been burned, and to help prevent kids from doing what they did.  Now in their mid 30’s, it’s still a message they continue to share.  The older boy, the one who was burned the worst, lost his arms and legs and endured over 100 surgeries as a 10 year old child.  This “trouble-maker” as I labeled him back then was placed into foster care with his brother after the incident by their mother (who couldn’t take care of two severely burned children and their younger siblings).  So here he is, basically his entire body burned, he’s awake, not in a coma, he knows his brother is hurt too, but he doesn’t get to see him, and he’s completely alone as he undergoes these horrible procedures burn victims go through.  And when he comes through it – he and his brother, now foster kids, now “nobody’s kids”, “trouble-makers”, start a campaign to help other kids, to prevent other kids from doing what they did.

And I judged them as deserving what they got.

I am ashamed of my 25 years ago judgemental self, who lacked the compassion for 2 little boys who “should have known better” but didn’t, who gave no thought at all to the future of these two little boys and where they might end up.

It also makes me realize that people that judge my kids, my family, not knowing what my kids have been through, not knowing what my kids are going through, not knowing how we are parenting our kids and how hard we are trying to get them on the right track, to help them see the bigger picture, these people are only judging from that one snapshot, that one event that they see in our lives.  They don’t know what they don’t know, what they haven’t experienced.  And maybe they too will be looking back in that moment years from now and be horrified by their thoughts and actions in that moment of time.  So maybe I can allow some grace to them, having stood in their shoes myself.  I can try, at least.

For the story on the fire, see the news stories at: