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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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

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

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

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

Dear Teacher

Let me start out by saying that I am in awe of teachers, of the profession, and I highly respect them.  There are a few teachers in my kids’ lives that walk on water as far as I’m concerned (Mrs. L, Mrs. C) and others that are incredibly awesome.  So this post is not to “all” teachers.  This is for the teachers, a lot of them new, a lot of them who haven’t raised kids yet and for all of them who haven’t raised trauma or special needs kids.

“Dear Teacher:

I’m a parent of a special needs kid.  The special needs my kid has are invisible.  At the beginning of every school year, I write a letter to the new teacher and let them know the things my kid does (lie about everything, steal) and nobody believes it’s my child because they act so sweet at school.  Hence the warning, so you know to check their backpack when things go missing.  I’m not out to vilify my child.  I’m not a mean parent.  But I know my child has problems, we are addressing those problems, and it’s only fair to let you in on the common behaviors of my child so you are forewarned.

My child is manipulative to the extreme.  You will be charmed into thinking this is the perfect angel child, arms wrapped around you for a hug while your wallet is being stolen behind your back.  We understand our child has that affect on people, that’s survival instinct.  We are trying to teach our child that we are there to provide for them, that we can be trusted to always feed, clothe, house them and make sure all their needs are met, but it takes a long time to teach a child to trust adults after their trust has been broken.early on.

I also try to outline what behavior modification methods work for my child. Every child is different, of course, and it took a long time for us to learn what worked best with my child.  I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job, but trying to help you do your job by short-cutting the learning process – the process of learning what works for my kid.  I know the books tells you this one thing “always” works and experience might tell you that another way works, but my child is not your typical student.  Things that work for other students backfire with my child.  We have learned a way that works, consistently, with our child.  The books cannot tell you about my child, about their past, and their trauma, or why they do the things they do.

I want this to be a partnership.  There are things about my child’s past that I do not feel should be shared – so if we make special requests, like “please don’t hug my child, even if they are constantly requesting hugs” – there is a reason, a very important reason.  You need to trust us as much as we need to trust you to to do what’s right in teaching our children.  Get to know us as parents.  Our only interest is what’s best for our child.  We have no interest in telling you how to teach or how to manage any other child in the classroom – only ours.  We are not arrogant in thinking we know everything.  But we do know our child.  We know our child’s past.  So please don’t brush off our concerns or requests.  You have the goal of getting our child through this school year successfully.  We have the goal of getting our child through life successfully.

Thank you for what you do and all that you are about to take on this school year.  I respect and admire you and your profession.

Sincerely, A parent of a child with invisible special needs”

As I think back to the teachers in my children’s lives who I think walk on water – it struck me: they also have kids with special needs.  Their kids are much older than mine, and each of them fought to get their kids the help they needed to be successful.  Even as teachers, approaching other teachers, they were still viewed as “just parents” when it came to talking about their kids and had to fight and claw for their kids.

Wow.

-realmom

Parenting takes a village

But then again, sometimes that village is effed up…  The stories of the “free range parents” has died down with people freaking out about other parents letting kids out of their sight for 10 seconds.  (I notice how only the middle class/wealthy people who judge others when the kids walk home from school alone, when the poor kids have been doing it for decades in the very worst of neighborhoods and nobody but their mommas seemed to care… but that’s another story.)

People are getting a little out of hand at “parenting” other people’s children when they really should be focusing on their own.  We were accosted in a grocery store parking lot the other day with our brood of 1001 toddlers and tweens (or so it felt like) trying to get the multiple carts of groceries in the back of the van, get the kids in the van, with a fussing toddler, a kid hitting all the buttons in the van making things go on and off, up and down, another one poking his brother to tears,  and we were trying to wrangle them and not drop the eggs and keep the ice cream from melting in the hot sun and as a man walked to his car with an infant in his arms, one of us dropped the f-bomb.  His car was parked several spaces from us but there were no cars in between. He started screaming at us about how he worked for the state and he was going to follow us home and take our kids away from us because no one should say that word in front of kids.  And He. Wouldn’t. Let. It. Go.  We yelled back at him to mind his own business, etc, more as a way to attract attention for witnesses than anything, because what was this lunatic doing?  He would take a few steps towards us, yell, and as hubs and I would stand together between our van (that was holding our children) and him, then he’d back off.  Meanwhile I was digging through my purse to find my phone to call 911, not expecting to be threatened in the middle of the day in a store I visit weekly!

We did not back down, but neither did we take his bait and walk towards him or threaten him.  We first tried ignoring but then he started walking towards us, screaming and yelling.  When he said he worked for the state, I actually laughed, because my first thought was,what, the DMV?  When I finally got my phone out and got his license plate (tried to get a picture of him, he thought I did but I didn’t), suddenly he wasn’t interested in sticking around and drove off, peeling rubber.  I’m not actually sure his baby daughter was strapped in the baby seat, he had been so focused on us.  What his problem was, I don’t know.  What I do know is my children were frightened, confused, and now the grocery store parking lot is somewhere they don’t feel safe.

If we were hitting our kids, beating them, abusing them, and he called the police or intervened, yay for him.  But we weren’t.  “Normal parents” of “average kids” do sometimes yell and say things like “*&^&! Would you quit!”  No one will ever convince me that “normal parents” do not get frustrated.  When did we evolve to a society that thinks the children are in charge, and that parents should give control over to the kids?  And when is CPS a threat to use against other people to make them parent  “your” way?  Isn’t it supposed to be for abused children, as in beaten, injured, neglected?  Not because you don’t like the fact that their parents swore in front of them!  No wonder so many kids are getting abused and killed in foster care, and many others are being left at home for the same, if this is the kind of calls they’re getting.  (And if he did actually work for CPS, that would explain a lot about the screwed up system… but I highly doubt he does.)  What has happened to common sense?

It’s bad enough as parents of traumatized children we have to be very careful in who is in our circle, those who will support our very special and thought out parenting techniques and not undo the work we’ve done, our methods individualized for each child, and where we take them to so they aren’t triggered, but this wasn’t even a RAD moment, or a trauma kid moment (although thanks to this guy my kids did get traumatized that day, scared that they’re going to get taken away, scared that the big yelling man is going to find them and steal them, etc). This was an every day, normal moment in the life of a parent.

If he really cared about the kids, why did he start out screaming at us?  He could have said, hey, dude, it’s not good to say that in front of your kids, Jesus don’t like it or something to that affect and it would have been cool with us.  He’s allowed his opinion, after all.  But screaming at a van load of kids, their scared faces plastered against the windows, walking threateningly toward them while screaming at their parents – really?  You’re concerned about their fragile little psyches?

Oh yeah, and by the way dude in the parking lot – if that’s how you’re going to live your life and act in front of YOUR daughter, you”ve got a lot more things to worry about than whether or not I swear sometimes in front of my kids.

-realmom

The price of arrogance

Most of us trauma parents, if we adopted, were suckered into it by cute faces on the brochure and the myth that “these kids just need love and they’ll be just fine!”  We aren’t saints or heroes for wanting to have kids, or for adopting out of foster care or internationally or whatever.  We adopted for whatever reason – infertility, genetic disorders we didn’t want to pass on, because we were adopted, because the child was a family member, a million different reasons – and we drank the punch.  There are a few among us, however, who knew about the man behind the curtain – and adopted anyway.  Teachers, therapists, special ed specialists, psychiatrists, experienced foster parents – knew about RAD, ODD, trauma kids – and they still went forward and adopted a kid knowing the kid had RAD, or assuming the kid had RAD if it wasn’t in the documentation.  They knew life was going to be hard, hard, hard.  They went ahead and did it anyway.  (yep, I call ’em saints)

But from what I’ve learned, from the ones that “thought” they knew what they were getting into, is that they have have the same line after awhile:  “I was so arrogant!  I had no idea it was going to be like this!”

So even with all their knowledge, and even experience, with special needs kids, even degrees in the stuff – as parents, they end with us, the naive, the gullible, the drank-the-punch crowd:  dazed, standing around, wondering what the hell just happened to our lives.

I don’t say this to put them down – not at all – you are saints for going in knowing what you knew!! – but to encourage the rest who were blindsided.  Even the knowledgeable got blindsided.  Even they are dazed and confused by the way things go with RAD, they struggle with the questions of what is the right thing to do, am I failing this child, am I doing this wrong, am I making things worse?  Regardless of how we ended up in this water-logged boat, we’re all in it together now, furiously paddling and bailing out water as fast as we can, hoping to reach our destination before we sink.  Might as well encourage one another, since we’re all trying to keep from sinking as best we can!

So why did I call this post the price of arrogance?  Because in this case, that’s just one more thing to stop beating yourself up about.  Whether you drank the Kool-Aid or had the PhD, it’s still the same damn boat so stop beating yourself up over it…  And remember what an incredible person you because you are parenting a trauma child, you aren’t giving up, and you are plugging holes in the boat as fast as you can with one hand while throwing water overboard with the other!

Hang in there!

-realmom

Photo credit: Kim Plante