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!

-realmom

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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.

-realmom

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.”

Ouch.

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:  http://kwqc.com/2016/02/04/miracle-from-mccabes-25-years-after-the-fire/

 

Lucky?

As an adoptee, I grew up hearing “Aren’t you lucky, to have been adopted!”  As if I was some second class citizen allowed to sit in first class just to see how the other half lived, but only to visit.  Now let me be clear, it wasn’t my parents doing this, they didn’t drone about how lucky “we” were to be adopted by them.  But it was other people.  As a kid, I don’t know how my parents reacted to that statement; politely, I’m sure, and probably the same when they heard what “saints” they were for adopting children.  I hated it.  Lucky?  Lucky to be born to a teenage mom, who was herself outcast by society because she got pregnant, so by default I was an outcast, discarded by an entire society, rejected the second I became?  Lucky because I spent the first part of my life in a hospital, both birth mother and I nearly dying during my premature birth, so that when I was released, I was no longer a newborn?  Lucky because ‘nobody’ wanted the toddler in foster care, they only wanted healthy newborns, as they dug through the piles of “nos”, finally hitting on a farm couple that didn’t care that I wasn’t a fresh newborn and said yes?  Lucky because I was a reject from day one?  Yep, I’m sure lucky.  Thank you. (insert sarcasm font)

That sort of beginning of life never goes away.  No matter how much your adopted parents love you, no matter how much they give you, no matter how much they pour into you, there will always be a loss, a great one, associated with adoption.  There will always be a rejection of some kind associated with adoption, and that kind of rejection will always hurt, always make you struggle against feeling “not good enough” no matter how well you do in life.  It’s not your birth parents’ fault, necessarily.  It’s not your adoptive parents’ fault.  It’s just a part of adoption.

So when I overhear people telling my kids how “lucky” they are that we adopted them, I shudder.  Lucky?  Lucky that they were born into a poor country, that their father died slowly in front of their eyes, that they spent over a year in an orphanage, fighting for food, lucky that their own relatives didn’t come forward and take them?  Or how about the one whose mother filled his little body with so much alcohol and drugs before he was even born that he will never have an easy life?  Lucky?  Or what about the one who was rejected simply because she “would never be beautiful like her mother” because she had an extra chromosome?  Lucky?

None of us are lucky in this journey.  Not the kids who had losses in their lives that most adults couldn’t handle, and not the parents who have kids who have such great losses that nothing they can do will fully heal their children.  Sure, there are some rainbows and unicorn stories out there of adoption, but they really are rare.  So if you have one, or know of one, that’s great.  But those are the exception, not the rule.

So don’t put adoptive parents on a pedestal as saints (they’re not) and don’t put adoptive kids up as second class (they’re not).  Adoptive parents are parents who simply took on more than the average parent, sometimes knowingly, usually not.  If you’re looking for something to say in regards to the adoption, how about “I’m so glad you have each other now!”  Because that is true.  Whatever past, present, or future, whatever struggles or broken dreams, they are in it together, and that’s worthy of a comment or compliment.  For adoptive parents, instead of a “you’re such a saint”, how about “Hang in there!  You’re doing great!”  because whatever you see at that moment, be it good or bad, is just the tip of the iceberg, and I can pretty much guarantee that parent thinks they are screwing up their kids and doing everything wrong as parents.  If the kids are behaving, you caught them at a good moment, if they’re not, you caught them at a bad moment, don’t judge their parenting skills based on that moment.  Just smile and offer support.

And to my parents, thank you for not making me feel like I should be exceptionally grateful to you for adopting me, but that I and my siblings were just like any other kids, we just happened to also be adopted.  We weren’t second hand or rejects, we were just us.

-realmom

5 Things Adoptive Parents Want Teachers To Know About Trauma by Mike Berry

Excellent resource – and provides sample letters, a video, etc.  Follow the link to their blog.  You will want to share this with your kids’ teachers, after school providers, etc.

5 Things Adoptive Parents Want Teachers to Know About Trauma

Dear New Therapist

I know you have the best of intentions.  I know you have a lot of knowledge and have spent a lot of money, time and energy on  your schooling.  I respect that.  I really, really do.  But there are some things I would like you to know….

Don’t ask me to talk about my kid in front of my kid.  Not only is this demeaning to a child who already has issues, if I say good things about the child’s progress, it can backfire into the child’s regression, if I say the bad things that are going on it just reinforces to the child that he/she is bad.  If you want to know what’s going on, ask for a parent meeting, but do not ask me about my child’s behavior in front of my child.

I love this child with all my heart.  I am this child’s parent.  I do not beat, torture, neglect, ridicule or lock this kid in a closet from dusk til dawn and feed him dog food.  Part of the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder is playing the victim.  You will probably hear a lot of horrible things that he claims I have done.  Take it with a grain of salt. If you have concerns, ask for a meeting with me (and him) to talk about these events.  And believe me when I say I have heard a lot of terrible things you have said and done to my child in that 50 minutes a week you meet with him, but I know better.  I know you don’t have a torture chamber back there nor are you performing satanic rituals when I’m not there.

The books are written on generalities, commonalities, and do not mean that all children react in exactly the same way or have exactly the same symptoms.  It also means not all children will respond to a certain therapy in a certain way.  Please be open minded.  Please be mindful that you are dealing with a living, breathing, thinking human being and not a two dimensional book.

Although I, the mom, have not gone through a decade of school to learn about attachment disorders and mental illness, please keep in mind that I know my child.  I have spent day in and day out with this child, possibly from birth to now, sometimes only a year, but I know this child better than anybody.  Please don’t blow off what I say and remember we are on the same team.  What I know about my child is truth.

Kids with attachment disorders lie and charm.  If you are buying into those, then you need to step back and recuse yourself from being my child’s therapist.  Keep your own distance and attachment issues.

The goal of attachment therapy is not for the child to attach to you, the therapist, but to attach to the mom, or the parents.  Meeting with a child alone for attachment therapy is not attachment therapy to attach to the parents.  Unless you are planning on adopting this child, you are causing harm.

Keep in mind that I did not cause the trauma in this child’s life, I was not the parent who neglected and harmed this child (if that’s what caused the trauma), I am the parent trying to fix it.  I made mistakes, I will continue to, but I am trying to the best of my ability to help this child.

We need to be working together, as a team, our goal is to facilitate the healing of this child.  Triangulation is one of the key features in attachment issues, pitting adults against each other.  We need to be in communication, open and honest, and keep that communication flowing.  Please do not side “against” me with my child.  Remember he’s doing the same thing to you.

I may not have gone to school for a decade to know what you know, but I have researched and gone to seminars and talked to people and other therapists and possibly read almost every book out there on my child’s diagnosis.  Don’t dismiss what I know just because I am not a professional.  At least read the book I am talking about and discuss with my why you think that approach would be harmful to my child, if you haven’t already read the book.  I’m not being a know-it-all or trying to tell you how to do your job, but my only job is to help my child.  Your job is to help all your patients with all their various issues.  So I have the luxury of focusing on a single thing and reading every book on the subject, talking with other parents about what works and what doesn’t, attending seminars devoted to just this topic – and you don’t.  So any information I bring to you is just that – information that I think would help and I am bringing to you to see if you agree.

Parents – hang in there.

-realmom

GIrl missing for over a year, police just find out

This news story hit my news feed today.  An 11 year old girl was “just noticed” to be missing, over a year since she was last seen.  Mother refuses to say anything about the girl’s whereabouts and is currently in jail for “contempt of court” for not answering the judge’s questions.  My first thought was, OMG, and nobody notices? Neighbors? School? Relatives? Seriously?  My next thought was, contempt of court? Are you kidding me? Such a minor charge for such a serious thing!

The final thought I had was, this is what trauma births.  Trauma begets trauma.  Everyone can rail and scream at the mom, but I am damn sure she is from a trauma background herself.  Untreated, most likely.  And the kids she had left at home, now in the care of so-highly-qualified-CPS (is there a sarcasm font?), who have obviously been exposed to trauma by the very fact that a sibling is missing and no one else cared enough to report it, but you can bet there’s a whole lot more trauma in their lives than that, are they going to get on a treatment plan to address their trauma, work through it, and deal with it so they can live productive lives as adults?  If they live to be grown ups, chances of them living a trauma filled life and causing trauma to their children are so high statistically that no gambler would ever walk away from that table.

Until we wake up (those not in the know, if you’re here, you know already – the hard way, through the innocent cherubs you adopted that turned out to be not so cherub-ic nor innocent), trauma will continue to breed it’s ugliness.  Unless we can treat the youngest victims at the earliest stages of their lives, unless we take this seriously, this cycle will continue.  How can we (as one in the “know”) make a difference when we’re already so under water with our own family situations we’re using a straw to breathe?  For one, speak up.  Enlighten those who don’t know.  Educate.  Yes, in little bits and pieces, not a long barrage of how your life sucks (save that for your support groups or your blog) but educate about trauma and how it effects children.  Speak up about the need to revamp CPS to actually “care” about the children.  Support each other, either online or in person.  Join a support group.  Start a support group even if all you do is pass the wine bottle around once a month and pay the babysitters hazard pay.  Write a letter to your Congressional and Senate representatives about the need for more support, resources, and aid for foster and adoptive families in your state.  Join a grassroots organization that is pushing for these things, I know of several that have been started by personal friends of mine, because they saw a need and didn’t see that need be filled.  Even if all you can do is lick stamps or share info on your Facebook page, you’re doing something.  It doesn’t have to be hours a week.  It doesn’t have to be hundreds of dollars.  Another thing you can do is when the public gossips.  You know, when the stories hit the news and your friends gossip, your co-workers, etc.  Even your Facebook friends.  Stand up for what you know to be true.  Be willing to get flamed and don’t flame back, but stand up for the truth.  An example is the Rosie O’Donnell story where her daughter ran away to be with birth mom.  Drug addict, still drunk and high after 18 years, birth mom.  Yes, what we all dream of for our kids, to have THAT as a role model.  The media, the general public, blames Rosie and believes whatever the media makes up about her or twists the truth into being something bad.  Those of us in the know realize that the kid probably had trauma, FASD in utero and could very likely have Reactive Attachment Disorder, or a mental illness, having absolutely NOTHING to do with Rosie or her parenting or her gayness or her celebrity-ness or whatever else someone wants to blame it on, the girl came wired that way.  (And for the record, I highly dislike Rosie the celebrity, as a parent I don’t know anything about her parenting, BUT I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and not judge and even defend her to those who are judging because I am “in the know” about trauma kids, lying media, and lying kids, the effects of drugs and alcohol in utero, etc).  And maybe Rosie did eff up.  I don’t know.  But I’m not going to START there because everything that the girl has said that’s been published or posted doesn’t have the ring of truth of actual abuse to it.  That’s how we start to change things – by speaking up, for ourselves, for each other, by teaching others.  We need to learn everything we can and teach everyone we can.  Yes, a lot of times we teach our kids’ counselors about RAD and how to treat it because there are no good counselors in our area within a 4 yr radius.  We teach our teachers, our relatives.  We get backlash, we get called drama queens, we get called over-reacting.  But if we are all speaking up, if we all have the research and the knowledge and we defend each other – won’t that make a difference?  Won’t that at least make a statement?

I wonder.

-realmom

Why humanity has not evolved

Trauma is not new to the human race.  It may be new to the DSM.  It may be new to the general public that you don’t just “get over” traumatic events.  It may be new to the medical profession that emotional trauma physically affects the body and brain, not to mention the mind.  But the trauma itself, is not new to the human race, or to human experience.  From Genghis Khan to the Holocaust, from feeding Christians to lions to the Spanish Inquisition, from stick figure drawings in caves to child porn movies, humans have shown again and again the ability to harm another of it’s kind without conscience or compassion.  The effects of trauma are genetically encoded in each and every one of us.

So then why are there good people in the world?  Why aren’t we all murderers, sadists, evil?  How can a Mother Theresa come from such a history?  The ability to overcome trauma, evil, cruelty must also be built in somewhere.  Not that everyone can – I highly doubt if Genghis Khan had a nice, happy childhood, rocked to sleep and cuddled.  So as society evolves technologically, in math, language, science, knowledge – how is it that trauma and its effects seem to be tearing down that very society, with the overpopulation of jails (where a high number of that population were in foster care), and a basic disregard for another human being?  Animal instinct of “me” vs. the evolved “us” that is trying to become?

I have to wonder if it’s because the highly evolved “us” aren’t really as highly evolved as we thought.  We may be smart in language, literature, art, science, math – but we aren’t smart in the human condition.  Individuals may have evolved to a “us” mentality, filled with compassion, selflessness, a willingness to get dirty and do the hard work instead of expecting someone else “less worthy” or “less educated” to do it for us, but as a whole, we’ve only evolved the outside appearance of the human race, not the inside.  It shows by how we treat the homeless, the mentally ill, the foster children, the disabled, the refugees, by how our “aid” programs have CEOs that make upwards of a million dollars a year for their “service” to the world, where it’s workers can’t be bothered so sort supplies donated for flood victims and hand them out because it “wasn’t their job”, a society that puts on a pedestal a fat guy who became a skinny guy – never mind his little fetish, how our version of “giving” is throwing money at something, aka a relief project, and feel we’ve done our part, never caring that little or none of that money actually gets to the people whose lives were devastated by the tragedy to begin with.  In other words, we just pretend to give a crap.  Pro-lifers who are really “pro-baby” because you see them parading signs at clinics but you don’t see them at the volunteering at the homeless shelters, battered and abused womens shelters, free clinics, or becoming foster or adoptive parents to help those babies who lives they’ve just “saved” or help the women they’ve just judged and put down who can’t afford to feed themselves, much less a baby.

Yes, trauma is not new to the human experience.  It just feels new because we’ve put on bling and sparklies, and so the obvious effects of trauma in our society show up so much more against the backdrop of what we pretend to be.

If you’re not a trauma parent, but know one, find out how you can help.  If you’re pro-life, become pro-LIFE and assist.  If you have money to give, know where your money goes.  Hell, fly yourself to Haiti and hire locals to build houses for those lost in the earthquake years ago.  The “big guns” never did, even though millions were raised!  Get personally involved with your neighbors, your co-workers, that cranky guy down the street who sits on his porch and glares at you when you walk your dog.  Stop elevating the Kardashians and start elevating people who really make a difference in the world.  Take that Armani suit you never wear, sell it and buy cheap suits for halfway programs for people who need clothes for job interviews.  Stop watching reality TV and go meet some people.  Stop tweeting and start talking face to face.  Be the evolution.  We CAN do this – TOGETHER.

-realmom

I think we’d be friends!

I almost want to print this out on a flyer and hand it to everyone I meet, and add “adopted kids” as well. – realmom

“What do you wish you could tell ‘society’?”

“I don’t really have much positive to say to ‘Society’.”

“My kids have enough trauma without people being insensitive. First off people need to find a filter. Stop saying crap in front of these kids that you have no business saying.”

“Seriously, they are people with feelings, ya know? Don’t ask me in front of them if they are my ‘real’ kids, or what their parents did, or if I am going to keep them.”

“Also I don’t need you to count my kids and ask me if I know what causes that and if they are all mine. I assure you I know what causes it: a broken SOCIETY causes it, as well as a call from God to CARE for these children. If you need to have an opinion then find a way to help. The system is broken and a lot more people need to follow God’s call for care of orphans to fix it.”

“Honestly, I am doing the best I can to follow that call. If ‘society’ is not finding a way to help they are part of the problem.”

Standing ovation for this hard working foster mom!

Shared with permission from Humans of Foster Care #HumansOfFosterCare and special thanks to Humans of Foster Care for their amazing stories into the lives of the people that work so hard to help these kids. I’d repost every single one – I love them – but I think that would be cheating as a blogger.   Humans of Foster Care

Artificial Intelligence The Movie

My kids recently watched the movie “Artificial Intelligence.” with the little kid from “I see dead people” in it as the robot.  I watched the first part of the story with them (it’s a long movie!) where the robot is “programmed” aka attached to the mom and then set loose in the woods when the “real” son wakes up from whatever disease he has.  Although I enjoyed the movie the first time around, it was pre-RAD life.  Quite a few things disturbed me this time around, though, and seemed to echo some things in our lives as RAD families.

The robot child was needy, helpless, constantly wanting attention and love.  He was a never-ending hole of “give me love”.  He acted younger than his supposed age, even asking her to dress him when he was well beyond the age when a mother would dress her child.  That whole part of it made me shudder.

Either they cast the role with a child way too old, or they cut out scenes that would have made this clearer, but it seemed the robot child didn’t learn or didn’t know anything.  In the pool scene where the biological child pushes the robot into the pool out of meanness, the robot being terrified of water, the robot grabs onto the human child and nearly drowns him.  What 8 or 9 year old child wouldn’t realize the danger of standing on the edge of the pool and not move themselves away from the danger zone?  The robot acts more like a 3 or 4 year old, than an 8 – 10 year old.  And if the parents realize he has the mentality of a small child, why are they leaving him unsupervised near a pool?

Human child has some serious emotional problems in this movie as well, setting off the baby-ish robot into situations where it gets him in trouble and eventually gets the mother to decide to send him back – aka have him destroyed, and the robot run away to save himself.

The mother and the brother never do treat the robot boy nicely or even like he’s a real person.  Of course he’s not, but he thinks he is, that’s the design of the robot, and that’s what truly creates all the chaos.  All the robot wants is love and that is the one thing he is denied.

Sooooo why am I talking about this old movie that is probably older than my kids?  I see my RAD as the robot in a lot of ways.  Acts helpless in ways he shouldn’t be, acts younger than his age, and like the robot should be damn capable of dressing himself at 10!  The constant need for attention, “Love”, the level of neediness, the never-ending level of need, the babyish behavior, being easily set off by siblings in situations most kids could walk away from.

But then there’s the other side of the coin, the one that makes me feel guilty and question myself, because in the movie, it seems that if the robot child got love then the behavior wouldn’t have been serious and scary, and its’ clear from the beginning the mother doesn’t want the robot-child, nor does she in any way correct the bio child into treating the robot-child like a real person.  She treats him as a thing.  So…. am I doing that?  Treating my child as  a thing, because of his never – ending black hole of neediness, the robotic act of professing and showing love, which is all for show and not real emotion, the babyishness when the child is fully capable of certain things?  Is the babyish acting around the little bit older sibling and the sibling’s reaction leading to this child feeling unloved?  Are we not really providing this child with the love he needs?

In my mind I know the answer to this question, but in my heart, I wonder if we’re doing things the right way.  And yes, of course we screw up, make mistakes, have bad days.  No doubt.  Where my mind goes down the list of the resources we have for this child, the sacrifices we make, the way our family revolves around this one child, I know we are doing and have done everything we can and continue to do so.  But in my heart, of course, fear sets in, is it my fault?  Am I not doing enough?  Am I not loving him enough?  On those bad days when I don’t like him am I breaking him?  Am I making it so he can never heal?

I think we all feel that way.  Truth is, we’re all human.  We all make mistakes.  And although kids aren’t resilient in the sense that they can come through every trauma without it impacting them, they are resilient enough to handle our bad days.  Even if our bad days are nearly half of the time,  our kids are resilient enough to handle them as long as we are doing good more than half of the time.  My son’s therapist says that and I’m clinging to that with everything I got on those bad days, because that’s all I can do.  My bad days are not breaking him or preventing him from healing if I’m short tempered, say the wrong thing, forget the proper therapeutic parenting thing to do, send him to his room instead of “time in”, don’t want endless “not real” hugs, or snap at the endless nonsense questions.  To add to our own stress by fearing that our bad days are permanent, making things even worse, or damaging this child forever, are only taking away from our own mental health, security, and safety.  We are human.  We cannot be programmed to be perfect.

Just hang in there.

-realmom