New boundaries, therapy edition

24 07 2009

The kids appt went well enough – everything is about the same.  The psychiatrist let us know that today was her last day and they should have a replacement by the time the next appt comes around.  It’s too bad, too.  I like this doctor (all three times we’ve seen her) but I understand the position she’s taking is much better for her.  Hopefully our next psych will work out as well.

The center we go to does monthly health screenings at the same time as the psychiatry screening and it’s done by a nurse.  She’s always a little aloof and distant but today it was just weird.  It’s hard when they fit both kids in at once because I can’t be with them when they do the health screening – I’m with the other one with the doctor.  They have this form they fill out every month and it’s a little intense for elementary school kids.  Stuff like “do you have discharge from your nipples?”

So the first thing that happens when I go in to check on Alyssa – the nurse comes out in the hallway and says “Alyssa says that a male cousin tackles her a lot and he does it because he loves her.”  Ok, they have to ask about this – I’ve actually counseled a number of children who were abused by a relative.

I asked her “did she say anything else about it?”

“No, she thought it was fun.”

I’m trying not to laugh at this point.  The nurse HAS to ask me about it.  Apparently, she didn’t ask Alyssa anything else after she said this, otherwise she would have known.  Alyssa has only one male cousin… and he’s two years old.  He LOVES Alyssa.  Alyssa was one of the first names he learned – right after Mama, Da, and Bob.  He calls me “Lyssa’s Mommy.”  Every time he sees her he squeals A-LYYYYSSSSA! and runs at her full speed.  If he sees me first, he goes “where’s Lyssa? An Cinny – where’s LYSSA?”

I filled the nurse in and she didn’t even smile or act like that fact relaxed her.  The rest of the visit was TENSE to say the least.  Like “did you know that LJ has been having pain when he pees?”  LJ was at the time giving her the silent treatment and staring at his shoes, only answering with a twitch of his chin.  “Alyssa says you gave her a laxative.”

Now – first of all, Alyssa does not know what a laxative is.  Second, she can’t tell last year from yesterday.  This is developmentally normal – and yes, if she’s constipated, I sometimes give her a dose of children’s medicine.  I’m allowed – they sell it, doctors recommend it, and I’m her mother.  She has a pediatrician she sees if it’s too often or if it’s abnormally colored.  Guess what, I don’t have to document it anymore and I really don’t remember if it was two months ago that she was last constipated or a week ago.

During this time, E is in with the psychiatrist, waiting on LJ to get done with the nurse.  He’s not allowed to talk today because he’s been willingly defiant.  So I hear the doctor in there asking him questions.  What part did you not get about me telling YOU that he’s in trouble and his punishment is to not be able to talk – which is his absolute favorite thing to do.  He’s sitting still and being quiet – just ignore him!  The kids are pushing boundaries BECAUSE of the adoption – they are testing me out as a forever mom.  I do NOT need people who should know better to undermine me.

Ethan does not (and did not) want to talk about Mom beating him up – which is what it felt like she was trying to get him to say while I was out of the room.  In my experience, that’s why caseworkers and therapists want to talk to children alone.  He wanted to talk about spider guts and how he stepped in an anthill outside when he was playing.  Those were the first words out of his mouth all at once. He didn’t even want to talk about his most recent reason to be pissed off – Alyssa gets to go to school and he doesn’t – or how he set a fire in the sunroom or how he’s been throwing violent tantrums.  I mean – he’s FOUR.  He’s supposed to be thinking and talking about spider guts.  You aren’t going to get him to talk about anything else by the time I get back.

I thought we’d stop playing these “are you abused at home” games once the kids were adopted – but apparently no.  At least now we don’t have three people a month coming into our house to ask them, but still their mental health workers get to quiz them every time they see them.  How long do I have to be their mom before people stop second guessing my judgment?

I know it’s just my perception because I still get asked when I go to the ER if my husband beats me.  I’m like “it’s a migraine… he didn’t cause THAT.”  It’s just something they have to legally ask so that they don’t come down on the wrong side of the media.  We all have seen the headlines and even judged people without the facts.  We have to believe that there are signs that point towards tragedy, and people are so scared of missing the signs that they lead this very scripted life.

What happens is that the kids end up thinking that they’re asking because I’m doing something wrong or that they need to be worried about.  My job is to give them safety and boundaries – that’s what they need right now.  They need to know that not only am I their protector, but I’m also the law-maker.  When I’m questioned in front of the children about such and such an event, they start thinking that maybe I’m not right.  Their experience has told them that adults aren’t right all the time and sometimes adults hurt little people.

Foster families are built on structure.  Everything is planned, everything goes on the schedule, there are rules for everything.  Everything is documented, everything is scrutinized.  Now that the kids are adopted, I’ve been loosening up the rules little by little.  Things like LJ can ride down the street on his bicycle instead of staying in the driveway.  The kids can spend the night at Grandmommy’s.  We can watch PG-13 movies when Shaun and I agree they’re safe (we don’t worry about curse words – we just don’t allow sex or violence on TV.)  I can walk out in the living room with only my nightgown and a pair of undies on – I don’t have to be robed from head to toe.  We can make stupid jokes when before we’d get disapproving stares from the caseworkers if the kids told one. We’re attempting this idea that we’re a “normal family” now.

The kids know this and they also know the “back-up plan” is gone now that they have forever family.  They’re testing the waters, seeing when how far they can go before they hit a wall.

Ethan hit that wall around noon yesterday.  He’s been skirting it for a week or two.  This morning, he had hit it by 7 am so I told him that I didn’t want to hear another word out of him for the rest of the day.  Then, I have to justify it to the center because if I don’t, I’m afraid they’ll make “that call.”

When we left, Alyssa immediately started in on me with the superiority BS and the defiance.  Before we even got out of the parking lot, I had to have a come to Jesus meeting with her.  Developmentally, this is on target, but damn.  If there was anywhere I should have been backed up on my choice of discipline, it should have been at the center.   Aren’t they there to make life easier on everyone?

So I’m not touchy feely baby-talk kind of mom.  Whatever.  That’s ok.  I tell em how it is and how it’s going to be.  There’s no hinting or “mommy would really like it if…”  These kids are too street savvy to fall for that pleasing adults bull.  It’s easier on everyone if we’re straight up about what’s the rule and what we can negotiate on.

One of the rules is that they don’t get to ask why I said something.  I don’t have to justify myself to a child.  I’m mom – that’s why. I know more than they do and I’m smarter than they are and think about more than they think about.  My decisions are based on reason and logic, but I’m not writing a thesis paper.  I don’t have to defend my choices and my choices are not theories and cannot be treated as such.  “Mine is not to reason why…”  They’re total noobs at this whole life thing.  They don’t get promoted until later on in life.

They better listen too because I control the video game system.  So, they’re adopted.  It’s not an excuse to get what they want.  Whatever –  “adopted” doesn’t mean I have to make up for something that happened to them.  I’m not going to let them use that term for pity or to be spoiled, just like I won’t let it be used against them by the school system.

I guess now I just have to set up the boundaries with the service personnel in our lives.  They didn’t get to go to court with us and they’re still in the habit of treating me like I have to answer to them.  I need to get it straight in my own brain that I don’t have to answer to them either.


Lots of work to do, no money to be found

19 07 2009

I know that on Sundays you aren’t supposed to worry about work.  Let it all wait until Monday and just take some time to relax.  Right…

I’d been joking for a few months about going to work at Hooters to get a little extra cash flow.  When the adoption went through, we lost about $1k a month in income because we didn’t want to wait for the special needs waiver to go through on A.  It would have put the adoption off for another 8 months or so and from experience we’ve learned that a lot can go wrong in 8 months.  LJ’s had gotten approved two days before we signed intent to adopt but being A is younger, we didn’t have enough documentation to get the rubber stamp.  It was better to just get the adoption finalized even without getting the special needs care she qualifies for.  We did, however, get federal Medicaid on all the kids until they’re 19 or out of high school.  It covers mental health treatments and that’s what we needed to ensure.

Note to potential adoptive parents:  make sure you get the adoption assistance.  It’s wounding to the pride, but you’re gonna need it and use it.

Back to Hooters.  I found out today that I can’t work there because I don’t meet protocol – tattoos are out of dress code.  Damn, that means I may have to find work where I use my IQ instead of my T&A.

Unless I find somewhere I can flex-work or work part time, work just isn’t a viable option yet.  I say yet, but the truth of it is that I’ll probably never be “cured.”  Shaun has intermittent FMLA leave enacted in his job because the next migraine could literally kill me.  Reading that on paper scared the crap out of me, even though I knew it.  The MVP puts me at a higher risk of stroke, syncope, and fatal arrythmias.  Being the migraines are severe enough to take out my vision and I often can’t keep anything down, dehydration is a major risk.  Not enough blood running through the heart equals regurgitation and syncope.

I want to just scream that it’s not fair.  I’m 28!  I’m one of the smartest, most talented people in the workforce (mathmatically speaking,) I have the will and want to work – but I can’t.  I can’t even lift my head some days.  When I feel like that though, I verbally tell myself to shut up.  One of the kids I went to school with just died from cancer this past week.  He wasn’t one of my friends, but we ran with the same crowd.  Well, as much as a socially-impared art geek can run with a crowd. I’m blessed beyond belief.

I think I’m just feeling older than my age.  Wednesday, I have an appt with the OBGYN to start talking about a hysterectomy.  Friday is Shaun’s and my 10 year anniversary.  September is the 10 year high-school reunion.  I have three kids, ages 9, 5, and 4.  Two of them have PTSD and the laundry list of abuse related and drug-exposure related mental illnesses.  The last one is trying his hand at tantrums, but doesn’t have the stamina to keep up the 4 hour fits his sister is capable of.

The kids keep bringing up in therapy that they’re scared because I’m sick and they don’t want to lose another mom.  I can tell them again and again that it’s just a headache, but they know.  Kids are really good at not accepting bullshit and I’m really terrible at lying.  I don’t believe I’m going to die but I do believe that I’ll probably battle this well into my 90s. I grew up taking care of my mom through the same thing and I’m a productive member of society.

Some days are great and I feel like I did before I got sick… or until the sickness that I was born with caught up with me enough to take me down.  I have energy.  I laugh and smile.  My grammar doesn’t suck.  I have patience and want to conquer the world. I think about another child.

Yesterday was one of those days.  We went out with the kids to thrift stores and antique stores.  We picked up some pipes for Shaun to restore.  I got some $3 keyboards at Goodwill to modify and some clock parts.  We spent the kids’ Toys’r’Us gift card and their McDonalds gift card.  It was beautiful and sunny and great.

This morning was the same way, but a bad night’s sleep and too much caffeine caught up with me around 4 pm.  I got out and cleaned the wheels and chrome on my Durango now that the local road work is done.  I started teaching A how to work the shower since she’s going to start school in 3 weeks.  I took apart one of the keyboards and started cleaning it and sanitizing it.  We had pizza with the big family at Mom’s and the cousins all got to play and we made hand puppets out of paper bags.  I finally gave the digital picture frames back to my dad (one we couldn’t set up without an SD card port… blah) and set up the one for my mom.  I sorted through jewelry with my sister and stole some of her stuff.  The stupid gate at the family’s place was deactivated so we didn’t have to wait to be buzzed in.

Around the time Mom went to church with Grandma, I was a snippy bitch.  I even snapped at my mom.  I snapped at the kids for singing Spongebob’s “idiot friends” song.  I came home and took a bath, finished a stupid book, and tried to steady myself with working on fixing a flatbed scanner.  What I should have done is taken a shot of Zomig.

Now I’m going to attempt to sleep it off after I get Cali cleaned up.  Nola got pissy and and started a fight.  It looks like Cali lost a toenail.  Shaun’s putting the kids in bed and I’ve got the cameras charging so I can download the photos in the morning.

I don’t know who is harder to raise: children or German Shepherds.  They’re all too damn smart for their own good.

Doctor Appt Friday

26 06 2009

This morning I had a doctor appointment with my general practice doc and thank God the kids are adopted!  I dropped em off at Grandpa’s with snacks and coloring books and I got to go to the doctor all by myself like a big girl!  We adjusted some meds – up on the migraine preventative, changed brands on the stuff to make my heart stop the crazy palpitations.

Mitral Valve Prolapse is the most annoying disease you’ll never die from.  I got a referral to ANOTHER cardiologist who will either do stupid tests and dismiss my whining or a cardiologist who feels my pain and tries to help.  I want to discuss the new MV reconstruction surgery at Mount Sinai.  They have this rubber band looking thingy that keeps the valve from “hiccuping.”

So, after that, I went to one of those cash for gold places and sold some broken stuff.  One pink sapphire ring that was broken, a pendant with some sort of jade looking stone in it and a tiny chain bracelet and got $75.  I have another really heavy chain bracelet and now I’m thinking with the gold prices, I may get me some tattoo money!

Then I go get the kids and we go to Chik-fil-a.  I really don’t like it but the kids love it and it’s on the way to their therapist’s office so we did it anyways.  They ate fairly quickly so I let them play on the playground for a bit.  Ethan acted like a wild hooligan, so while I’m fussing at him, checking my phone to see what time it was, and trying to juggle the 30 things I had in my hands, I hear this from my sweet little angel of a daughter:  “I’m your best friend and I’m leaving so you aren’t gonna have any friends.”

Is it wrong to think your five year old is gonna be a great bitch one day?

Then the kids had their monthly psych appt (due to chronic PTSD) and health screenings and their doc has a time management problem.  I guess since she has a doctorate or something, that she can just wander in whenever she wants.  Anyways, she’s really nice and the kids don’t seem to mind her, so we go along with it.  Same meds for the older two, talked a bit about LJ’s encopresis and it acting up again probably being due to the stress of the adoption 2 weeks ago.  Both LJ and Alyssa had grown .5 inch and 3 lbs, which puts LJ in the “hey, I’m a tall boy” zone and Alyssa in the “it’s time to count calories…” zone.

Ethan is now 2 inches taller than Alyssa and he’s SKINNY.  He was my little roly-poly baby.  Now he’s turning into a kid sized boy.  *sniffle* N0 more toddler clothes for little E-baby.  E-man.  Awwwww….  You would never guess that this child is four.  He doesn’t realize he’s big though and does stupid things like run into doors and tries to squeeze into spots he’ll never fit in.  It’s like when Nola, the giant twit of a Great Dane, grew into her paws.  Suddenly under the kitchen table was not a safe place.  She was all clumsy paws and legs sticking out everywhere with knobby knees.

Tonight, Shaun has a sleep study at Emory to test for sleep apnea.  The other night I was laying next to him, awake from the snoring, and he just stopped breathing.  Holeeee shit.  Then, he started again.  That prompted me shaking him and going “dude, you like nearly died!  go to the doctor!”  Of course, the three snoring dogs that surround our bed didn’t like being disturbed so we agreed to talk about it during daylight hours.

Speaking of not getting any sleep – last night I just could not get comfortable in the bed, so I went out to the hammock in the living room.  I slept fine there until I rolled over and hit the floor.  Spooky lifted his head and gave me the “idiot” look only black cats can give and then turned his back on me so I came back to bed.

My brother wants me to see what I can do about some bad customer service him and his girl got at the Quality Inn in Gatlinburg, TN.  So, Vincent, general manager – expect a call!


24 06 2009



Things They Should Tell You Before You’re On Your Own

Today has been a perfect storm of the kids acting out.  This has happened before – it’s not abnormal that the kids have behaviors related to abuse and neglect that we try to work through as they come up.  Normally, we make sure the child is safe from harm, call the caseworker, write up an incident report and then address it at home and in therapy.  For two years, this is how it goes.

But after finalization, there are no caseworker calls, no incident reports, no one person who can say on the phone “this is not unexpected and here’s how we work through it with the other kids who do this.”  It’s a support system that one day just disappears.

Thank God that the kids are still in therapy.  My therapy seems to be this two  cigarette a day habit I’ve picked up.  Shaun called the kids’ treatment center and they gave him some pointers on what to do for today and we’re going to try and get a family therapy appt for tomorrow.

So, here’s what happened.  This morning I wake up to the smell of smoke and Ethan is hiding something in his bed.  As soon as I make sure nothing is on fire, I ask him what he’s doing.  “I’m about to get back in bed and go to sleep.”  Um, no you weren’t.  I’m not stupid, bucko.

The kids know my routine – nothing is going to happen until I’m halfway into my first cup of coffee.  So, I get it and sit down, and I hear the girlchild saying “let me lay on top of you and tell you a secret.”  The oldest boy is going “no, I only wanted to tickle your feet!”  She says “But I have to lay on top of you and give you kisses and tell you secrets!”  This alone makes me want to cry.

We discussed good touch/bad touch for the zillionth time and talked about the kinds of girls who laid on top of people to give kisses and if it was appropriate for a 5 year old girl to be that kind of girl.  Hoochie Mamas and Stupid Girls get talked about quite a bit in our house too.

Then I separate them into their rooms and then I start to smell smoke again.  Match smoke.  I walk out and the oldest is in the kitchen pretending to play with the magnets on the fridge.  My nose traces the matches to an end table in the sunroom.  I hold them up and ask who lit the matches.  The oldest tells me the youngest did it, but the youngest has been in bed since I caught him stealing and lying to me.  I play along: so where did E put the matches that burned?  In the trashcan.  I look, and sure as shit, there are about 15 burned matches in there.

So, I go ask E.  Did you light matches?  Yes… he mumbles and makes square face.  How many?  Just one, then one with the red tip wouldn’t work so I put them back.  Ok, this fits with the story I’ve alreayd figured out in my head.

Before I woke up this morning E and L snuck out to the sunroom with a box of kitchen matches and tried to light one up.  It quickly went out because with the AC and the ceiling fan in there, you couldn’t light a zippo if you were standing in a puddle of gasoline.  They tried another and it didn’t light at all, then they heard me so they disposed of the evidence and ran back to their stations.

Then, after A was in trouble and E was still in his room, L snuck back out in the sunroom and started try trying again.  My bloodhound nose perked up and I caught him disposing of the evidence.

Add all this to the encopresis that has been flaring up again, and mommy needs another cigarette.  L is back in diapers full time again because he keeps pooping his pants.  Night, day, busy times, not busy times.  Is it a physical problem or does it have to do with the Oppositional Defiant Disorder or the ADHD?

Looking on the internet, all of these problems are fairly common but what’s getting to me is that my support system (that actually knows what they’re talking about) is gone.  The moral support system sees the kids as “damaged goods.”   I hope the therapists have something to tell us that will help.

I’m not Catholic, but St. Jude, Patron Saint of Lost Causes – here’s a prayer coming your way.