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.

-realmom

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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

-realmom

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

Don’t be tellin’ my kid…

That he/she can be anything they want to when they grow up.  Don’t fill their heads with dreams and ideas of becoming a famous basketball player, rock star, or the next Taylor Swift.  You think are you are encouraging a kid to believe in him/herself, to reach for the stars.  But you are not.  You are ruining the reality so fragile that it may take years to build back up what you just broke down with your fantasy tales.

See, my kid isn’t based in reality.  My kid doesn’t understand how the world works.  He/She thinks if “I want it, I should have it.”  School, hard work, earning, saving, and deserving are words that are not in their vocabulary.  What we call “NT” (neurotypical kids, kids without trauma and damaged brains from god-knows-what was ingested in utero) understand that in order to become a famous basketball player, you first have to learn how to play the game.  Then you have to practice and practice.  You have to work hard.  You have to earn it.  And you have to have a whole lotta luck to be in the right place at the right time.

My kid doesn’t have that base in reality.  He doesn’t understand that first you have to learn how to play basketball before you can even begin to think about making a career out of it.  It seems basic to you, how could he/she not understand that, you think?  Welcome to our world.  These are the basic understandings of life that our children do not understand, they do not connect the dots, and even if they are chronologically 16 they may very well be two years old in their understanding of life and how it works.  It’s not bad parenting on my part.  It’s not that we don’t try to show by example, that we don’t talk about it, that we don’t read biographies of people and learn how they go to where they are.  But my kid can’t connect the dots.

So when I ask you to not encourage my child to do things outside of the “right now”… do your school work, do your best, work on what’s right in front of you at this minute…  Then please do me the courtesy and respect of doing as I wish.  You may think I’m a mean-ass parent, too strict, whatever, and you are welcome to your opinion.  But my child is not welcome to your opinion, and neither are you welcome to negate what we work so hard to instill in our child, so that someday, just maybe, they might be able to live a productive life and provide for themselves.  Because what you’re doing – harsh reality, here, peeps – is showing my kid the path to jail.  The path of if you want it, take it, you don’t have to work for it, because you want it.  And when that doesn’t happen – because if my kid never picks up a basketball other than to throw it at his brother’s head – he will never learn how to play the game, and will never become a famous basketball player.  And when that doesn’t happen, it’s back to living moment to moment.  No millions from playing basketball?  Then steal what you want, someone else has something you want, so just take it.  It’s your right.

Because that’s how our kids are wired.  You don’t tell a kid with CP that if they just focused, or tried harder, they would be able to stop the tics or control their muscle movements.  You’d look like a fool.  Just because my kid’s disabilities and inability to see cause and effect, the linear progression of things aren’t obvious like uncontrollable muscle spasms doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  I took the time to explain to you how to interact with my child because I wanted or needed you to interact with my child.  But you don’t know my child.  You see the charm, the fake, the public personae.  I know my child, how he/she thinks, acts, and understands.  My child has a disability.  Respect that.  Don’t tell a kid in a wheelchair that if they want it bad enough and try, they should be able to walk up that flight of stairs.  When put in those words, you understand how stupid that sounds.  There are some things that not everybody can do, whether you’re disabled or not, whether you have extra challenges or not.  I will never be a seven foot tall basketball player.  It ain’t happening.  I can chase that dream all I want, but I’m going to end up starving on a street corner if I focus just on that idea.  And so will my child.

If you want to encourage my child, encourage them to finish school.  Encourage them to do what most people would call “every day, mundane things” like learn to wash clothes or change their underwear daily.  Because my child lacks those things.  That’s where it all needs to start.  And I need your help to help my child achieve even that in life.  That’s the part YOU need to understand.  My child cannot accomplish even those goals without a lot of extra help and support.  And that’s what I am doing.

Would I like my kid to be able to do whatever he/she wants in life?  Of course, as a parent, I love my child with all my heart.  But as a parent, I also need to live in reality, the reality of being able to hold a job, provide food and shelter for oneself, learn how to have relationships with other people appropriately.  That’s my reality.  That is my sole focus and goal right now.

I need you to help me in order for my child to attain that goal.

-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

Pity: Party of 1 – Your table is ready

Sometimes I get so sick of my child being pitied, of being treated oh so special because of his assumed past, because of his imagined and made up stories about his present and how neglected he is, the attention he receives and soaks up for things that didn’t even happen.  I get tired of the treats, and gifts, the extra everything he gets from strangers, acquaintances, teachers, because he can spin a good lie.  Sometimes I just want to stand up and shout, “What about me? What about his family who has to put up with the rages, the destruction, the violence, the CRAP on a daily basis while you all fawn over him like a wounded puppy?  We are the ones that should be fawned over, treated special, given gifts!”

Sometimes I wish I had some sort of obvious temporary injury, like a broken arm that sticks straight out, so that when I walk into the grocery store, complete strangers rush up to me to help me shop, buy me coffee, do nice things for me, treat me special just because of that cast.  Or maybe a broken leg, stuck straight out, and people rush to move things out of my way so that I can navigate my way around.  I sit and ponder that for a little bit.

Then reality starts to creep back in, where with my luck, nobody would notice that cast, and I’d end up knocking over hundreds of cans stacked up in a display, trying to get just one can, because that stupid cast was so awkward to navigate with, and two other shoppers would fall on the cans and break a leg, so then I could feel really awful.

I get up from my table, leave a tip, realizing I don’t want to be pitied.  I am a strong person, I am a warrior, and this pity shit is for the birds. If I want payback for being nice, I’ll go pet puppies at the pound, nothing like a little puppy love to raise your spirits.  But this raising a kid with RAD, there is no payback, at least not in the short term normally, and that’s just how it is.  I’m not doing it for the paybacks, for the hugs and kisses of parenthood that were in the brochure.  I’m doing to because it needs to be done and he’s my kid.  I love him.  I will do whatever it takes to get him the help he needs.  There’s no room for pity.

Hang in there.

-realmom

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

Brother vs. Brother

I overheard a conversation between the two bio brothers the other day.  Brother #1, diagnosis include Reactive Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, had accused his brother of pinching him or something as he walked by.  Brother #2, who is pretty much healed from his attachment issues, with his voice cracking with obvious pain, said “Why do you accuse of things I didn’t do?  You’re breaking my heart!  Completely breaking my heart!”

Not only was the emotion real for this tween boy confessing to his brother how he felt, he did so in front of several neighborhood children, his peers, who were just as likely to take this confession, this vulnerability, and use it against him, ridicule him.  He didn’t care.  That moment, he was in pain because of his brother’s actions, and he expressed it.  I was proud of him for doing so, especially in the circumstances, and my heart for him, because his pain was so obvious.

When we first brought them home, at 3 and 4 years of age, the older one was the problem child.  He fought, he destroyed, he spit, he swore at us, he threw things.  He cried at night and refused comfort.  We were helpless to alleviate any of his pain.  What’s worse, we didn’t speak his language.  We did our best, but we were afraid he was broken.  The younger one was happy, laughing, seemed to immediately adjust and had no problems at all.  What little we knew….  After a year, the older one worked through his pain and his issues, and settled down, and began to accept being part of a new family.  He had struggles, sure, he had reservations about attaching to us, but the major battle was over.  Now as a tween that attachment battle is won, he wants to be part of our family, he claims us as his own, and he’s dealing with adoption/abandonment/anger issues that he still needs to work through.  That, and the issues with little brother.  Little brother, on the other hand, angelic, smiling, laughing… never attached.  It was an act.  Looking back, I can see the times of mommy shopping, I can see the switch when h realized the cuteness wasn’t working to get his way anymore and he started looking for new parents, and began to be seriously destructive at home.  Looking back, it’s textbook, it’s obvious, it’s clear as day.  But at the time, we’d never heard of such a thing.  Sure, we knew about Reactive Attachment Disorder, but this kid was huggy, always on your lap – that wasn’t how they described RAD!

Eight years in, I’ve met families early in their journey, who have the feeling that there’s something “not quite right” with their adopted child.  They can’t put a finger on it, but things don’t feel right.  The hugs feel fake, the kisses feel overdone, and after awhile, you just want them to leave you alone.  I tell them they’re probably right, the hugs are fake, it is an act, and their child hasn’t bonded, and they need to seek help, learn about attachment, etc.  Even now with the changes to the DSM the “gregarious previously known as RAD” is given barely a glance, as if the fakeness makes it all ok.  It’s not given anywhere near the time and energy in the textbooks as the inhibited RAD child.  And so few therapists are well versed in RAD at all, much less this side of the spectrum!

If this is your child, don’t give up.  It’s a spectrum, but that doesn’t mean one end is worse than the other and harder to heal, necessarily.  Some of the “worst cases” end up healing and some of the easiest behaviorally end up not healing at all.  We just can’t judge and have to throw all we can in terms of resources and our time and energy into healing this little soul.  Don’t give up.  Even if you don’t see the results in their childhood, and they leave at 18, and you think well, we failed…. there’s still hope.  The human brain continues to develop and grow until roughly 25-27 years of age.  There’s still hope.

-realmom

My neighborhood

I love my neighborhood.  I have awesome neighbors.  I’m not bragging, I’m extremely grateful because I’ve never had neighbors like this before.  Neighbors who text me when my garage door is open, who tell me when my kid goes knocking on their door asking for junk food, neighbors who bring my flag back to my porch after it blew off in a windstorm, neighbors who bring me cupcakes and treats for no reason, neighbors who buy too much of something and ask if I want any, neighbors I can text and ask if they’ll pick me up cat food at the store because I feel like crap and we’re out, neighbors who contact me because another neighbor is having surgery and she’s organizing dinners for that neighbor for a few weeks and wants to know if I want to participate.  A real neighborhood, the real meaning of neighbors, that’s where I live.  Not everyone is like that, but it’s more than one, more than two, more than three, and I’ve never witnessed anything like this in my life in a town/city where people come and go.  It’s more like the old farming communities way back when where people watched out for each other, even if they had to hitch up the horse and ride 10 miles to check on their neighbors.

Every day out my front window is a gallum of kids playing.  (How much is a gallum, you ask?  A lot.)  And there is always, ALWAYS, at least 2 moms, if not more, supervising the kiddos playing in the culdesac.  Moms and Dads here “co-parent” whoever’s kids are outside.  They are involved.  The kids respect that and know that not only will they be reprimanded at that moment for bad behavior, mom and dad are currently being texted with the details so by the time the kid gets home the parents are well-informed.  There’s no “don’t tell MY kid what to do!” crap around here.  My one neighbor says, if my kid needs a spanking just go ahead and give him one.  Not that I ever would, but she completely trusts me to act appropriately and deal out appropriate punishment for her kid.  Other kids from down the street flock to our end… but if they don’t follow “the rules” (safety, respect) they will be sent back home or to their end of the street.  Usually the kids learn that it’s a lot more fun to play on this end where kids play nicer and don’t beat up the little kids and say “I’m sorry” when they accidentally knock another kid down” and end up staying.  (That’s not to say we don’t have some knock down drag out football and basketball games with the bigger kids – it’s just done in fair play!)

Why is my neighborhood different than anywhere else I’ve lived?  Almost all of the new people that have moved in – and there’s been a lot – have fit right in.  It’s not a rich neighborhood.  We don’t drive fancy beemers and SUVs.  There’s us with “problem” (aka trauma and special needs) kids, and a foster home, but the rest are just your average regular families, yet our “problem kids” also have limited problems, if any, with the other parents.  Maybe it’s because anyone who plays with my kids gets a little education on some things so they know what to expect and knows they can contact me about anything my kid does, and then when the foster home came into being, they were pretty well-informed, or maybe this set of people is just that open and willing and giving and caring than most of anywhere else.  I just don’t know.

What I do know is that we are involved as a little community here, we spend time together, we watch out for each other, and whatever you put into it, you’ll get out tenfold.  Some neighbors don’t want to be involved and don’t want to know anybody, and that’s their right and choice of course, but it’s amazing what a little friendliness does.  We “belong”.  And in this belonging, my entire family “belongs”.  My kids who don’t belong in a family of different race parents, belong in this neighborhood of families who are mixed race and have parents of different races.  My kids of different races don’t stand out in a group of diverse ethnicities.   My adopted kids don’t stand out when there are step-parents and other adoptive parents, or foster parents.

I don’t live in Utopia.  It’s not perfect.  But it’s profound to realize that 8 out of 16 houses choose to be part of this community, to make it community, and what a huge difference it makes for my kids.  And what a huge difference it makes for me as a parent.  I don’t always have to be the one outside watching my kids play, because there’s always someone outside watching the kids play.  Sometimes it’s me, too, but for once it doesn’t always have to be me eagle eyeing my kids to make sure they do the right thing.  I don’t have to worry about my kid getting into a car with a stranger because everyone is watching and if it’s a car that doesn’t belong, it’s being watched too.  We watch out for each other.

And all it took was a 4th of July BBQ to get to know each other a bit.  A potluck dinner on the front lawn.  Cookies or cupcakes for the new neighbors moving in, along with your phone number so they can contact you if they need something.  Jump-starting your neighbor’s son’s girlfriend’s car for the 45th time because she doesn’t have jumper cables.  A teenager shoveling the snow out of the walkway for the older couple so they can get to their mailbox – for free, and without being asked.  Mowing the neighbor’s lawn while they’re on vacation.  Little things. Neighborly things.  I hope that if nothing else we try to teach our attachment challenged kids hits home, that what they see with our neighbors shows them how things should be, a goal to reach for.

So thank you neighbors, because you’re helping in ways you don’t even realize: by example, showing my kids how people are supposed to treat people, giving, and wanting nothing in return, caring and expecting no payback.

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