Good Deal

30 10 2009

Back to a serious post… if anything that goes on here can be considered serious.   We go from OMGWTF? to HAHA-AWESOME! in less time than it takes to butter a piece of toast.

The kids are starting to get a lot of our sense of humor (finally) and we haven’t even started indoctrinating them with Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies.  They have seen Down Periscope multiple times, so that helps.  It’s pretty awesome to see them crack cynical, sarcastic filled jokes and it’s even better to see them understanding and using puns.  LJ is a LOT like me – he says “puns work because of a misused homophone.”  Absolutely child.  Absolutely.

Me and LJ – we have an odd sort of relationship.  It’s been hard for me from the beginning with him.  There was a time where we almost refused placement with him – it was that bad.  See, I’m an alpha female.  I have been since the moment I was born and everyone in my family will tell you that.  LJ, when he first came to us, was under the impression that a woman’s job was to cook and take care of the younger babies.  This woman who will never exist was supposed to see a 7 year old boy as having more status in the household than her.  (I know I’ve written before about how the household is like a dog pack.)  Well… as you can tell, this attitude didn’t work.

So, over the 2 years we’ve known him and he’s come to live with  us and become our son, we’ve been working on this.  At times I’m overbearing and at times, he is.  For the most part, he’s figured out that he doesn’t get to tell A&E what to do and I try and give him responsibility over himself.  (I do get to overrule stupid things like wearing shorts to school when it’s 50 degrees outside.)

We meet at loving books.  He loves to read and so do I.  We’d rather read in our bed than talk to anyone.  The problem is that he’s not real sure where the lines between fiction and reality are.  He told some teachers at the school earlier this week that a dragon had bitten him on the neck.  Of course, no one believed him, but the counselor called home to tell me what was going on.  He’s had some pretty big stuff come up in the past few weeks so she knew this may be something we need to discuss.

He and I sat in the car and talked while in the carpool lane to pick up his sister.  We talked and talked and talked.  He didn’t understand that the words he says to people cause reactions – no matter what you say, you’re going to get a reaction.  We talked about how if people knew he just made stuff up all the time that no one would listen to him if something was actually wrong.  We talked about believable stories – dragon bit you?  Obviously not true.  (though, it’s probably better to make up a story that can’t possibly be true than say something equally untrue but believable.)

We talked about appropriate things to share with people (conditional boundaries) and what would happen if those boundaries weren’t respected.  We talked about kids in the foster care system (when we were picking up our AA check at DFCS, he saw some classmates in the waiting room) and the different things that could cause a child to need care.

We spent a lot of time talking about severity and differences – not all kids go through the same thing he did.  For some kids, they had an easier time of it.  For some, they had a time that was much worse than his.  We talked about how everyone, everywhere has something in their past that hurts and how we deal with it determines the kind of person we are.

After all that – we made a deal.

Until November 15th, he is not allowed to either make up fantasy stories or read fiction novels.  He still has to read every night – but he gets true stories.   He’s involved in a biography of Cal Ripken Jr. right now.  I’ll probably go to Goodwill today or tomorrow to pick up more kiddo friendly non-fiction books.  If not that, then we’ll visit the local library.

Things have been moderately better since then.  He’s been meeting my eye and making jokes with me.  He’s been helpful and respectful to the little bits.  Last night, we even put everyone to bed with the sound of laughter even though it was an emotionally difficult day for everyone.  He woke up this morning and told me – amazed – “I didn’t have any nightmares last night, Mommy!”  Awesome.  Pure awesome.

This morning we talked about how to say “its not your business” to people who made them uncomfortable with questions.  We talked about whose business it is – the family’s and the doctors.

After going through foster care and adoption, this is something all of us need to rebuild.  We all need to work on appropriate levels of privacy for ourselves and each other.  We’ve all just gone through so many years of having to report every little thing by phone and in writing.  There were always people in and out of our house – I couldn’t let the laundry go or not load the dishwasher because at ANY moment, someone could pull up and get to judge our worthiness.  This is partly why I’m so open on the internet – it would be hard to rape our privacy and background any more than what it took to become a foster/adopt parent.

Now, we’re having to work on telling people it’s not their business.  Truth is, most people aren’t looking to help – they’re looking for gossip.  Shaun and I are also having to relearn to trust our own judgment.  We’re both grown but we’re too used to having every move picked apart.   That causes stress and anxiety for all of us – we can’t just relax and have normal everyday fights.  Everything is a possible catastrophe.  Everything is caused by this event or that event, and everyone has a different opinion of what caused what.

I mean, I just want my child to feel free enough to scream “I hate you – you’re the meanest mom EVER.”  Right now, we’re still all worried about what we’re saying and trying to use proper communication skills.  In foster care, if they said “I hate her – she’s so mean” to a case worker it wouldn’t be about whether I confiscated the Nintendo DS – it would be “are you feeding them properly?  Whats your discipline policy?  We need to have a face to face meeting about this placement.  I need to talk to my supervisor.”   Basically, if you get mad and immature, your whole life could be turned upside down  (and immature is probably 30% of my personality.)

I want to be able to say “I don’t even want to see you right now” without it meaning “she may not love me enough to keep me.”  No, I just need some time not seeing YOU.  I’ll get to where I want to see YOU again but first I need 5 minutes to look at something else.  Every word that I say has to be examined from how they’ll receive it and how it will sound if they repeat it or how it will sound when I tell the therapist about it (because I can’t lie worth a shit and they can tell when something is going on.)  Then the kids see that I’m uncertain and they start thinking that maybe I don’t know what I’m doing and maybe they don’t have to listen to me.   Or something.

For now, it’s just repeating “I’m your mom.  I was your mom yesterday and I’ll be your mom tomorrow.  I’ll be your mom next year and the year after that.  I’ll be your mom when you get old and have babies.  I’ll be your mom no matter what.”   If we say it enough, maybe we’ll all start to believe its not fiction or fantasy.

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your hard work is about to pay off

11 10 2009

I’m consolidating all the little “do this” lists that are on my workstation, and I just found a fortune from a fortune cookie:

your hard work is about to pay off

God, I hope so.  I’m so damn tired.  I’ve been trying to stay upbeat and focus on the blessings instead of the distance we still have to go, but it’s so fucking HARD.

We’ve had some major breakthroughs these past couple of weeks with regards to LJ’s therapy.  He’s finally starting to talk about what happened to him at the group home he was in.  He’s been doing therapy two or three times a week since there was a BIG ISSUE and he finally started to talk about it while we were dealing with the BIG ISSUE.

It’s really too much to know… I couldn’t imagine living with that secret inside me, thinking that terrible things would happen if I told.  Now that I know part of the “secret” its hard to see it in a non-emotional way.  I’ve counseled and mentored sexually abused children for what seems like forever and this is by no means the worst I’ve heard.  It’s a fairly common story.

It is really just hitting me hard.  This is MY kid.  MINE.  I could decimate every person or circumstance that enabled this to happen.  I could sit down and cry for a week.  Neither Shaun nor I are able to sleep without nightmares and we’re always listening through the baby monitor because he’s been having nightmares.

Thank God for our therapy group, though.  This center has been the absolute best place.  They deal with foster and adopted kids, and they know the system.  They also haven’t lost their ideals.  This isn’t the first time they’ve had to report to the state about something that’s come up in therapy and mostly it goes without ever being checked out, but this time they flipped shit.  The proprietors involved with running the home didn’t seem to care one way or another what was going on.  They actually said that LJ was “a damaged, retarded kid” and was probably lying. (This is from the home that had him classified as autistic and mentally retarded.  He’s not autistic and his IQ is in the 120s.)

When this asshole said that to the lady who runs our local center, she… well… the Bible says “vengeance be mine, saith the Lord” but God sometimes subcontracts.  I would not willingly set foot in her path while she’s pissed off – and I’m one of those people who would stare down a hurricane.  So, now the COO of the national treatment center is making a report to the group that runs the DHR – which is over DFCS.

(Yes, this is the same home that called DFCS on me because of a facebook status where one of my friends joked that I was a dominatrix.  Didn’t you know that I’m a harlot because I have short hair, wear makeup, and have tattoos?  Well, I am, and that means any sort of deviance from the straight and narrow means I’m a BLASPHEMER!!!! AND OMG, I HAVE KNEE HIGH BLACK BOOTS!!!  I’m obviously a tool for the Devil himself and my facebook updates should never go unnoticed.)

So, back to LJ.  He seems happy during the day – almost carefree.  He’s a very somber kid so this is really a shock.  He has gone back to soiling his drawers and hiding them, throwing tantrums, and forgetting personal space b0undaries.  It’s expected… it’s not acceptable behavior, but it’s expected.

We’ve been talking a lot about what to do when you have scary memories that seem real.  (PTSD flashbacks, for us grown folks.)  We talk about how to get to a safe place physically where you can’t hurt yourself or other people, and then find someone who you can tell about it.  I told him the important thing is to talk.  It doesn’t matter who – and we’re not going to spread it around like “oooh, guess what LJ remembers!”  He just needs to get it out before he does something stupid.

We also have been talking a lot about other people having scary memories that seem real.  A (chickpea) has flashbacks during October and last year scared the living hell out of LJ, so this year we’re talking about how its normal for people who remember scary things to have this happen and also what to do if a flashback does happen.

I’ve had to tamp down most of the talk about Halloween.  LJ is so excited about it, but because he was separated from chickpea for so long he doesn’t realize what Halloween means to her.  Her little brain learned the routine: dress up for Halloween, get candy, eat dinner with family, then get sent to live with a new mommy.  She LOVES pumpkins and getting dressed up and the pretty colored leaves, but she gets so amped up thinking that she’s about to have to leave again.  She’ll get in trouble and scream “I’m bad so I have to go to a new house!”  I told her that I’m much worse than she is and I’m not in a new house yet.  If she doubts it, she can ask Grandmommy and Grandpa exactly how bad I was.  So, we’ve been talking a lot about how adoption means she’s my kid forever and how hard we worked to get her and that no one was taking her without a fight.  A very messy, nasty fight.

It seems like we’ve talked about good touch/bad touch 500 million times and its still an issue.  We’ve talked about “games” that predators play to make a kid think its ok to touch each other, we’ve talked about safety plans, we’ve talked about the rules that we have to have while they’re having scary memories… we’ve talked about secrets and about personal space and being respectful.

We’ve talked our little throats hoarse and still, we have to keep going “omg, wtf” then keep on saying it.  One of these times it will sink in and hopefully be remembered.

And E… poor little guy.  He’s taking a lot of crap from LJ and chickpea during this and he’s getting so mad.  He’s 4, but the size of most 7 year olds.  He doesn’t know how to process all this drama right now, so he’s acting out and destroying things.  He’s yelling and kicking and throwing tantrums.  He’s stealing food and lying.  Gah… It’s hard to even work with a 60 lb preschooler, much less try and peel him off the ceiling.

Next on my list is to write a post on my post-op appt with my OBGYN.  I won’t put it here because it’s absolutely not male friendly.