"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Captain Beautiful Mom

Yesterday was a rare quiet day. A day that showed how bone tired we all are. And Peanut said, "here Mom! I wrote you a story!" Then she giggled and ran away.

Once opon a time ther was a monster named Princess. She scard evreone but my wonderful mom her name is Captin beautiful mom. She alwes saves everone from the monster. People been screaming intil the superhero came. She tried to scar off the hunge monster but the monster just had a fit . Boom wack boom so mom thought and thought intill she said, "I know somthing!!" She went to the monster and said "why are you scaring thies people." The monster said "row!" That means I do not know. The super herow said, "you should not scary those people!" The very next day the monster got mad. She started to scare everone so mom came out and scared the monster away and the monster never came back. The end.

Needless to say, it was not what I had been expecting to read.

I'm relieved in the midst of this that Peanut sees me as her protector. Not to mention my superhero name is flattering. But I'm unnerved at her clarity that her sister, her older sister, the sister who should be guiding her and braiding her hair and whispering and giggling with her is someone she needs protection from.

I don't have one traumatized child anymore. I have a traumatized family.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Crappy Parenting Gets Pushed to the Wayside

I sat in Princess's therapists' office, depressed, exhausted, numb, defeated. She explains to me something to try against a reoccurring behavior that sets me off like a grease fire at a shrimp boil. I listen. Then I startle. Because what she is saying? I am a pro at. Or I was. A year ago, I would have done exactly what she was describing without even blinking an eye. I was great.


"I used to do that," I sobbed. "I wish you had known me before I was all burnt out. I was fabulous at this!"
"I have no doubt you still are," she said.

The girls were playing in our ugly blue pool, and it was clear Princess wasn't going to last long. She had thrown a blueberry at me (although not in malice- I've long accepted her motives are going to be mysterious), and was feeling ashamed, I suppose. I couldn't pin her ragged behavior on anything else, anyway. Sure enough, the complaints came closer and closer together, each time with swift denial and blame from Princess. The highly suspect kind. I gently reminded Princess that if she wanted to stay in the pool, she was required to find a way to get along with her sisters and follow the safety rules. Then warning one. Then two. Then three.

I gave Princess her new choices: the other part of the yard (which includes the swing set, trampoline, fish pond, sand and water tables, wading pool, deck, and me), or sit with me.

Guess which one she chose? By default, naturally.

And she actually voiced that the problem was that I didn't give her enough chances. That she would have made a different choice if I had given her a fourth chance.

I've been defaulting to the exact wrong thing: the time out. But even before the talk with the OT, I realized that no matter how Princess was behaving, three-quarters of the day in time-out probably meant it wasn't working all that well. For anyone. That, and the memory of her last time-out. The ten-minute one that took three hours (yes, THREE HOURS) because she kept trying to amuse herself by bizarre antics such as parading around (outside her room) with all her pairs of p@nties tucked into her waistband.  Not. Working.

This time, I slowly and cheerfully chased Princess around the backyard, because I know she has almost no endurance and the last thing she really wants to do is run fast for an extended period of time. Then I led her to my lounge chair, sat in a way that made it difficult to get hit or kicked, and picked up my book.

Screaming ensued.
I asked her to please pinch me hard enough to make the bruise show up on the camera.
Which really, really freaked her out, enough that she stopped pinching.

And I held her. Swimsuit skin against shorts and tank top skin.
And held her.
And held her.
And held her.

She calmed.
She asked me to get her a bunch of stuff.
I reminded her she made a choice.
She said she didn't want this.
I said bummer.

And eventually she started talking to the ants.
And I feel much better.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In Retrospect

I've lost my ability to see ahead for Princess.

I used to be so in tune with her. I could see a trigger a mile away. But it got to the point where everything was a trigger; it was too overwhelming, and I started trying not to see them, just so it wasn't constant. And the past six months have been so filled with hurt. Princess's new-ish doctor evened out her meds, which is an amazing thing, but what's left in the wake is Princess, fully aware of the pain and fear she feels. And since she can't process it yet, guess where it goes? All over the rest of us.

It's been a hard, hard six months. And it's harder now that it has ever been. Her doctor says he's seen a lot of families give up at this point, saying that they preferred the miserable they were before to the miserable they are now. I know in my heart (and her doctor agrees), that if we can just get though it alive, it will be better, livable on the other side.

But right now. It's just hard.

We had a family wedding to travel to this past weekend. One of us thought Princess should go, and the other thought she should stay with a sitter. Both of us were experiencing, er, "feelings" from our vacation traveling. The one who thought she should stay caved, and the trip to the wedding was without incident. The wedding activities were without incident.

We let down our guard.

Sunday was Father's Day, but it wasn't really on our minds. Buddy and Peanut had left Saturday night to spend the week with Gramma and Grampa, so we gave Daddy his five-pound gummy bear and his turkey made from compost pile gleanings (complements of the Cuddle Bear) Saturday morning. We were two hours into to four hour drive when we decided against fried chicken in the park and for Joe's Crab Shack.

What Were We Thinking #1.

The first thing I didn't see was that the restaurant was (duh!) full of men. At least half looked like the type of man Princess is frightened of. The wait was about 30 minutes, and about 20 minutes in, Princess insisted she saw a boy who frightened her two years ago by lifting her skirt while the class was in line for the computer lab, resulting in the first total meltdown the school had seen from her. It was obviously not the same boy, but she staunchly and unreasonably insisted it was.

Right then is when we should have gotten out of there like bats out of the seventh circle of hell.

But I've lost my ability to see ahead.

We sat down, and Josh and I consulted the menu to see what would be the best way to order. Princess promptly chose the most expensive dinner of the children's menu consisting of fried food with a side of fried food with some fat as a garnish, and began telling us emphatically and repeatedly what she wanted. Thinking about her food issues and not seeing what was really going on, we showed her the (gigantic, delicious) meal we were going to order and share.

Princess began to throw a tantrum that looked exactly like a three-year-old who is not getting her way.

Which really torked me off.

Even though I knew somewhere in my head that that wasn't really what it was.

While we waited for the food, she kept looking over her shoulder. It's "normal" for Princess to be hypervigilant, especially about food, but this was more like a tic. I actually started to worry she was going to hurt her neck. And usually the presence of food of any type would have snapped her out of a food-related funk, but when the meal came, even though it was all things she likes, even though I went without some things so that she would feel like she had more, she threw her food around complaining about how disgusting it was.

And she just kept escalating. She hid under the table. She flung herself into the seat behind her. She whacked the poor man whose back was to the other side a few times. And she kept insisting, loudly, that she wasn't.

And still I didn't see it for what it really was.

Eventually there was no choice but to remove her from the restaurant. I dragged her out of the booth while she ramped up the volume and walked her outside, where she slapped me and complained loudly about having done nothing wrong and how mean and selfish Daddy is.

Happy Father's Day.

I sat in her seat with her while Josh tried to concentrate on driving safely while she screamed, kicked, pinched, and bit. I am now the proud owner of an incredibly ugly bruise on my behind and a spasm in my back so painful I have to have Josh slide me out of bed this morning.

She just couldn't do it. And I should have seen it.

When she finally got tired enough to cooperate with some breathing exercises and a drink of water, she began to sob about how sorry she was. And I believe her. But now I am physically and emotionally sore, and Josh is really pretty depressed, and neither of us have the reserves to meet her.

And we just have to push through.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In Which Kerrie Congratulates Herself

You know that feeling when suddenly you turn around one day and realize: your baby has a "schedule?" Not one you made up for her, but her own. You've got a good idea of what she's going to do when, and you know what everything she does probably means even though she can't tell you with words.

Ok, so maybe it's not quite so exciting when your baby is nine. Or maybe it is. And that it's only Day Four of summer vacation and I figured it out makes me think I'm pretty awesome.

So here it is:

1:00- Rage
6:00- Rage
Bedtime- Rage

The thing about this schedule that makes me all tingly is that I CAN DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE IT!!!!!

Ideally, this is what would happen:

12:30- Nap
6:00 On! The! Dot!- vegetables or dinner stuck in mouth
Bedtime- Tucked in before Imminent Rage signs start to show

Realistically, this is more what it looks like:

12:30- Nap, but I let Princess take a book because usually she doesn't like to read but she likes to pretend she likes to read so she falls asleep right away only this time it turned out she was m$*#&@&^^g interested in the book so she didn't sleep leading to new factor
4:00- Rage
5:00- Kerrie realizes that, despite the unscheduled rage that actually enjoying a book is new and therefore a very, very good thing
6:00- Dinner is not ready yet, so Kerrie sticks carrots in Princess's mouth and offers them to everyone else because it is 6:00 and Kerrie can't take one more "no fair" without Josh home
Bedtime- Crapshoot
9:30- Congratulate self with glass of wine

Next up: what on earth to do about that 4:00 rage.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mani-Pedi Fail

Hmm. I wonder what that is?

There are those things that I can't really put two and two together on, and I know asking questions will not get me anything useful. Or even close to true. So I file the information away for later. Cachink!

I cleaned the kids' bathroom last week (have I ever mentioned how estatic I am that this house has a master bathroom that no one! can enter! without permission!? Because, eeeeeew), and noticed these weird pink smudges here and there on the counter- but mostly in front of Princess's space- that didn't come off when I rubbed them with the cleaner. It didn't look like anything I could place. Cachink!

Thursday, Peanut asked Princess why Princess's fingernails were red. Princess said, "marker!!!" and stuck her hands behind her back. I looked, and she had kind of a reddish stain around the edges of her fingernails. Suspicious, yes. But Princess has been admonished before for drawing on herself (mostly by Josh, because me, meh. I have bigger fish to fry most of the time), so I didn't think much more of it. Chachink!

Yesterday, I removed Princess's laundry from the dryer. And there were two socks covered in the same color as the counter and the fingernails. A color that did not come out in the wash. Chachink clunk!

Please go get me whatever it is that you have that made marks on the bathroom counter and is covering these socks.

She brought me a marker. A washable marker. From the main floor of the house.
Try again, babe. The thing I'm expecting is from upstairs. Probably hidden in your room.

She brought me a bottle of nail polish. Which no one is allowed to have because they always spill it. Yeeeeeeeah.

Ok! Let's go get the rest of my stuff out of your room, then.

I started to toss her room, and she sat next to me. I was about half-way through when I said, "you know, you'd have a lot less to clean up if you got out what you have hiding in here and give it to me BEFORE I tear up everything."

She swooped in and immediately pulled out a bottle of nail polish remover. The brand new one. That was now empty.

I said, "what else have you got?"
I'm pretty sure that's not the same color as what's on your socks.
It is! See!

And she stuck out her fingers and toes. Which I hadn't noticed. Which were pink. And also pretty much the entire length of her legs. And her carpet. And her closet door.

Evidently she had been repeatedly painting her entire self, and everything around her, with my nail polish, and then taking it all off with my nail polish remover, for a week. At least.

I immediately went bat-poo nutso. It was the stealing. The stuff that I'm supposed to remember isn't a moral issue but actually a response to extreme stress and a cry for help always trips me up. I have not exactly been "slow to anger," as of late. It got a little surreal, because AS I was freaking out on her, I could still hear the Still Small Voice in my ear- I was just apparently to scalp-prickled triggered to acknowlege it. It went kind of like this:

She only steals your stuff.
Shut up.
Because it's you she wants to be close to.
No, it's because she has no respect for me whatsoever.
It's because it's you she wants to be close to.
Shut up.
She tried to clean it up. Usually she just leaves her illicit messes for you to find. Or step in.
Shut up.
She wanted you to catch her so she could stop feeling bad. That's why they're still painted. She doesn't know how to fix it with you.
No, she just ran out of remover.
She feels bad and she doesn't know how to fix it.
Shut up!

And it did.

I made a conscious choice to stay angry. You can imagine how the rest of the day went. I stomped around yelling. Princess had such a huge meltdown she got a hanger stuck in her hair from tearing up her closet from the inside

(because she's been painting her nails and removing the polish during the time she was supposed to be brushing her hair and teeth for the past week. The rat's nest look was starting to go on)

my anger upset the other children and flowed over onto Josh, making him feel depressed and helpless. It was not good. Not good at all. Very sub-par. Fail.

Thankfully, every day I'm given is a day to try again. And the Still Small Voice is louder after a two-mile run with really loud music.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Running Away from Big Girl Panties

I signed Princess up for Girls on the Run this year. Other activities I've tried with her have come to bad ends. With sports, she wants to do certain parts (being goalie, throwing in the ball, batting), but not the rest. She simply won't participate in 90% of said sport. She took tap. She was good. I mean good. But there was one girl who was better. So Princess quit. And by "quit," what I mean is, "started raging on the way home from school so she couldn't physically be forced into a leotard and transported to class."

But I saw her face when well-meaning people would ask all the kids what kinds of things they do and everyone would answer and Princess would say, "nothing."

This year she was old enough for Girls on the Run. It's a perfect program for her. It's as non-competitive as humanly possible with actual humans participating. It has all the girlie-girl stuff Princess loves. It would provide some level of physical activity for her. I would run the 5k with her: something we'd both enjoy! She would get a t-shirt and a medal. And, best if all, she wouldn't be able to use the same method of quitting, because she's bussed directly from one school to another.

Backing up to running the 5k.

I started noticing that whatever time I came to pick up Princess, she was standing around while other girls were running or walking the track. She wasn't the only girl standing around, but it was always. I spoke to her coach, and she said that Princess has very little endurance, but she's participating and doing fine. Ok.

This morning. This morning Josh discovered last minute that Princess had not done something she really, truly needed to do before leaving for school. Not a negotiable in any sense of the word. This event came on the tail of Princess being reminded to do several things she always needs to do, and having to stop something she wanted to do more to go fix it. Things were not pleasant as they were.

The other children and I had to leave to walk to the bus stop, so I asked Josh to make sure Princess ran to catch up with us. She ran until she was far enough from the house that she could pretend she didn't hear Josh anymore, and then she walked. She was closer to me than Josh by then, so I reminded her she needed to run, and if I got to her first, things weren't going to be pretty.

I got to her first.

It wasn't pretty.

I put my hand around her shoulders, grabbed a fistfull of sweatshirt, and started to jog. Slower than I actually run, which is very, extremely slow. Slower than I walk, in fact. We "ran" for 200 feet. The entire 200 feet, Princess screamed and wailed and gasped about how she couldn't breathe and how I was killing her.

Two hundred feet.

Divorce rates for regular people are through the roof. Divorce rates for parents of special needs kids, well, it could be interpreted as "why-even-bother percent." I read somewhere (to be honest, probably Reader's Digest- the foremost leader in bathroom information and bizarre jokes about dogs) that the best predictor of special-needs-parent-marriage-success is a very, very dark sense of humor.

Enter: why I think there's a darn good chance we'll beat the odds.

I came home from the bus stop, like I often do, disgusted and demoralized. I told Josh I was calling Princess's coach and pulling her from the 5k. That there was no point if she couldn't jog 200 feet without dying. He had a look.

What? You don't agree with me.
Maybe you should run it by her coach.
Why? She clearly can't do it. She hasn't even been training.
It can be walked.
Oh sure! Yeah. Three hours with Princess either moaning and complaining, yelling at me, or trying to get away from me. Yeah. That'll be fun.
It's three hours you'd be with her.
Put on your Big Girl Panties.
No! They're ugly!
I think they're beautiful.
Well you're wrong. They're hideous. They're the granny kind. The go up past my belly button, and they billow, and the elastic is overworn, and they're yellowed with weird stains.

That's only because you have to carry so much sh!t around in them.

Yeah. I think we might make it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another Installment of "Things You Probably Haven't Said"

Brought to you by Kerrie. Be jealous.

You know, I think it's really great you're excited about your new deodorant. It's ok to be excited about it: it's new, it smells good, and it's a clue that your body's changing into a grown-up's, which is pretty cool. The thing is...well, the thing is that it's not the kind of thing other people are going to get excited about. They'll get excited about their own deodorant, maybe, when it's time for them to use it, but they aren't likely to get excited about anyone else's deodorant. So if you want to tell people about your deodorant, that fine. Just be prepared that they're going to say, "oh," or something like that. Not do a dance of joy.

But the main thing to remember is, if you want to share the smell of your deodorant with someone, like maybe a sister, for instance, you really should ASK before you shove it under their nose. Because if you don't ask, it's fairly likely they'll snatch it out of your hands and throw it in the wastebasket. You know. Like just now. So it's ok to be excited about it.

Just ask first.