"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."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Found a Peanut

My sweet Peanut. She has been on the move the past six months. It is pure pleasure to watch her grow and heal.

When Peanut began kindergarten this past fall, I was heartbroken. She has loved preschool, and all signs pointed to her being very very ready for kindergarten, even though it is all-day in our district and she would be starting at age 4. I should have been forewarned when she went into a depressive tail-spin when preschool ended for the summer. But of course I wasn't. Who ever is?

Kindergarten started. I had Peanut placed with the same teacher my older two had, an amazing, fabulistic woman equally magical will typically-functioning and special needs children alike. Who had her second knee surgery over the summer. Who had a LOT of follow-up appointments in the fall. It didn't take long to notice the pattern: substitute teacher=principal's office. The principal is just as wonderful, and Peanut is the type of child who charms the crap out of people, even when she's acting rotten. However. I started to wonder if I needed to pull her out after lunch. Maybe it was just too much for her little self. Then she tried it on her teacher. We knew she would, so no one was surprised. At least, not until I got to class. She looked possessed. Her sweater was half-off, her hair was standing on end, and she was running around the room tearing stuff off the walls. I had to carry her out of the school like a log while the principal handled the Cuddle Bear and the backpack. It took me and the principal both to stuff her into the Suburban while she slapped and scratched my face. Fun stuff.

A few days later, I found that she had felt ganged up on by some girls at school and I started to think, "this is happening when she doesn't feel safe." Not long after, she had a sub again. I got a call. Peanut had gone ballistic. The sub was very pregnant, and Peanut had kicked her and threatened to kill her baby with a knife. That was when I realized that subs in general make Peanut anxious she won't be cared for. This sub in particular was even more complicated.

Peanut was 20 months old when she and Princess were removed. Their birthmother left them with her sister and her sister's husband, who ran a flourishing meth lab when she went into labor with the Cuddle Bear. Birthmom stayed home alone with the Cuddle Bear for one week; then the Cuddle Bear was hospitalized for stomach surgery. No food was getting through to her digestive system, and she was down to four pounds. Then birthmom disappeared for three weeks while the Cuddle Bear healed up alone in the hospital. Meanwhile, my girls were living in a trailer mostly alone with an empty fridge. Princess and her five-year-old cousin cared for Peanut and her younger cousin. Their uncle frightened them, threatened them with a knife, and I suspect some other things, too. So. No parent or teacher=how do I know I'll be taken care of? And I can only imagine what the vision of a large pregnant woman did to her. So it would have been no surprise if I put it together earlier.

For a while I brought Peanut home early when I knew there would be a sub. I gave her some ideas for when she started to feel angry and worked them out ahead of time with another teacher. The real breakthrough, though, came with the "Worry Worm" exercise with Dr. S. Peanut was able to identify situations that make her anxious, rate her anger appropriately (right between "livid" and "homicidal maniac"), and implement a plan. And it worked! She's five, for pete's sake! I told her there are grown-ups who can't do that. She liked that one.

Now she can handle subs with barely a blink. She told me the other day, "I almost don't ever have fits anymore." Two nights ago I corrected her during our bedtime routine. Embarrassment usually makes her go nutso. I noticed she slowly covered her head with her blanket. As I moved my arm to put it around her (fully expecting her to jerk violently away), she leaned into me. Huge for an attaching child. I'm so proud of her. My heart is lightening.


  1. That is such huge progress. She is so lucky to have a mom who gets her and appreciates all the moves she makes towards normalcy. Good day!

  2. God has certainly gifted you and Josh to raise your children!