"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."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Erg. Shame. Hate It.

Oh, my goodness, Princess has been beautiful. We have had between ten and fourteen gorgeous days. Others participating in the attachment challenge spoke of their RADlings getting scared of all the closeness and pushing away. Hard. I kept waiting. Ok, it'll be today. Nope. Today? No. Boy did it feel good.

And then. Yesterday I came in the kitchen to get my coffee and Princess was hard at work making cards, assembly-line fashion. I poured my coffee. Glanced down. There, on the floor, was the drawing pad with Princess's name on it. Baaaaad sign.

Background: Princess consumes art supplies. Not, "uses." Consumes. She has had that art pad seven days, and all but maybe ten pages have a medium-sized mark on them. Very few pages have a picture or writing. This had gotten so bad that during the school year I saved all the school papers with blank backs (so, just for perspective, maybe fifty paper per week) and put them in a bin. They were for Princess's sole use. Everyone else had a drawing pad. One drawing pad lasted each of them six months. They used them for, you know, drawing. Just for illustration purposes: over Thanksgiving we left the kiddos with my dad, brother, sister, and brother-in-law for an hour while we ran an errand (alone!). When we came back, Princess had traced her hand on roughly 200 sheets of computer paper. *

So. Back to my coffee. I say, "Princess, that is not your art pad. You may use YOUR art pad. Please find it and tear out four not-drawn-on papers to replace the ones you used." Princess then pretended to be absolutely shocked that she was not using her own art pad. Baaaad sign number two. This went on and on. Everything was either a mystery or done incorrectly. I was pondering the sudden appearance of this behavior when I mentioned it was time for Princess to put away her laundry.

ROOOOOOOAAAAAAAAR! The rage rushed in like nothing I have seen since the Christmas Trip From the Bowels Of Hell. It was bad. Very bad. Crying on the phone to my husband while he tries to earn a living bad. It was during the Crying on the Phone to My Husband part where I discovered the problem. He said, "oh."


"That might have been my fault."

"What do you mean?"

"I mentioned to her last night about what great days she's been having."

"Crap. Stop doing that."

We had plans that day. Complicated pans that involved more than one set of friends and a time we needed to be home by. I was mad. I did not want my summer held hostage by my daughter. So I decided we. were. going.

Really, this wasn't a totally off-the-wall decision. We were going to the beach, and there's nothing more regulating for any of us than the beach. Princess already knew she would be having lunch, but not treats (pudding and kool-aid). She knew she'd be hanging out with me with a book, if she wanted it. I really thought she'd be ok by the ride home.

And, really, for the most part, she was. There was one thing: she was suddenly wearing her bathing suit. I said, "you're wearing less clothing."

P: "I want to wear this."
K: "Yes. But I wonder if you remember the part where I said You Will Not Be Wearing Your Bathing Suit and you whipped it against the walls and said I Can Do What Ever I Want Because You're Stupid and I Hate You?"

She put her clothes back on.

And all was well. And then we got back in the car.

I have had a lot of bad car rides. I've got a bag of tricks to deal with them. But those were nothing. NOTHING, I tell you. The other kids were terrified. I was terrified. I was so upset about feeling like I could not protect the other children that it couldn't have even been really safe for me to drive. Plus the ear-piercing screaming. Later, I discovered that one of my nails was bent back and bleeding, and I'm not even sure how it happened. That bad.

I called my husband crying. Again. Then I e-mailed my sweet Christine, who gave me more car-riding tricks and talked me off the ledge. She pointed out that Princess didn't actually DO the stuff she was threatening (stabbing Buddy and Peanut with a pen she found, opening the door, biting off the Cuddle Bear's toes, removing eyes with a headband), and she actually COULD have, which shows quite a bit of restraint, really. Which was very comforting. In a "this can't possibly comfort normal people" sort of way.

And I e-mailed Dr. S, who came up with this gem:

With regular kids we acknowledge their positive behavior so they will do it more…with irregular kids when we acknowledge something, often they don’t get the whole “oh so this is good and I should do more good things”…instead the calling attention to it makes it feel shameful and they don’t like the feeling they get from the attention.  Even though it is that “aw shucks, dad” feeling, it feels like anxiety, like ‘bad’ so they act out to get rid of the bad feeling…even though it is supposed to be a good feeling.  The line between feeling good and feeling bad is a bit thin.

So hence, note to self.  Do not reinforce what is going well by calling attention to it…treat it as normal verbally and give extra ‘treats’ (again with the bag of hotdogs in your pocket.)  

So, I'll hit the ground running this morning. I'll have to. There's a birthday party today, and if I'm not wrong, she'll do her darndest to show me she doesn't "deserve" to go. But she's going.

Because she deserves it.

*We love you, Uncle J!


  1. If I knew i'D be quoted....I would have said something funny like carry a bag of hotdogs in your pocket (that is dog trainer talk for TREATS).

  2. Urm, you, um, DID say that, Dr. S. ;)

  3. {{{{{Applause}}}}} to you for the way you handled the day! (This is me acknowledging such positive regular-mommy behavior!)
    I didn't know that about irregular kids. Very insightful information.
    I have lives the car scenario more than once, but with my bi-polar child instead. Scary, scary times.
    I'm sorry it was such a difficult day.

  4. Oh, I do hope she pulls it together, because K definitely wants to see her tonight!

  5. You are an incredible parent. This is as hard as parenting gets and I am quiet and reflective and amazed by your insight. This is just a virtual hug.

  6. Kerrie, I am amazed at your perseverance in raising your special kiddos. God has certainly gifted you and Josh! You definitely have your ministry 24/7!