"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."

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.


  1. I don't have any words of wisdom to say except praying...

  2. Holy cow that sounds rough - I'm sorry :(.

  3. Princess stays home, with a really boring babysitter until such a time that she has demonstrated that she can behave.

    Princess bites you, scratches you, hits you hard enough to leave bruises and you're blaming *yourself*?! That *you* should have known better? You sound like a victim of domestic violence. Oh wait, you *are* a victim of domestic violence.

    Princess says she's sorry? And you believe her? Despite the fact that she hits you again and again? Um, no. No, she is not sorry. If she *was* sorry, she would not keep assaulting you. Really. Even peaceathome.org says so.

    What does allowing Princess to assault you teach your other kids? That assaulting people is a perfectly reasonable way of communicating displeasure. That as long as you say you're sorry afterwards, all is forgiven. Even if it's the 5,346th assault. Reinforcing bad behavior much?

    Have you considered crisis respite as part of a safety plan? Every time Princess assaults you (or anybody, under any circumstances), she has "chosen" to spend tge next 48 hrs in crisis respite. Period.

  4. oh! Sorry. HARD stuff. I'll pray for you and your family and the little princess. God can give you wisdom.... it sounds like you guys are plain worn out.

  5. Chalk one up for not being able to see ahead. Praying to God for help in difficult situations is best. Listening extra hard helps too. Sounds like Princess just didn't know what to do with her fear. Sad how tempting the fried chicken in the park looks now. Sometimes I really wish we could re-live portions of our lives over again and make better choices!!

  6. No, Suzee.

    Princess found herself in a situation where she was TERRIFIED. Proper, red-button, flight-or-fight-response TERRIFIED.

    She reacted accordingly.

    That's not bad behaviour any more than flinching when someone kicks you is.

    That doesn't - at all - make it Kerrie's fault, she slipped up, in such a context it happens, perhaps is unavoidable sometimes. But don't blame Princess, not for being the damaged child she is, not for failing to have the skills to cope with the situation, or to communicate in a clear enough way that she needed to leave (which is, of course, exactly what she was doing with her behaviour - it just got missed this time).

  7. Suzee, are you parenting a traumatized child? Princess reacted to trauma that happened to her in her early life that she doesn't understand and can't process. Trauma that wasn't her fault. She's not having "bad" behavior. She's a special needs child with emotional issues having an emotional disturbance. If she was epileptic and had a seizure, you wouldn't call it bad behavior. Kerry, that sounds so rough. We had a similar issue on Mother's Day - in the pool area and lobby of a swanky hotel. And I totally missed all the triggers and could have avoided it if I was more on my game. It's a sucky feeling, but we're not robots. We can't always be on, scanning for triggers. We're human. (((hugs)))

  8. Fine, Princess is emotionally disabled and cannot help violently attacking people since she does not yet have the skill to verbalized "I can't take this anymore". Until such a time as she develops and demonstrates said skills (ideally over a period of weeks) for things like a vacation or impromptu trip to the crab shack en route, she stays home with a boring babysitter.

    If my kid had epilepsy, of course I wouldn't punish her for having a seizure -- but if her seizures were not under control (say, in need of an adjustment to her meds), I wouldn't let her go on an all-day canoe trip with her BFF either. It would be totally irresponsible to let her paddle away, as she'd be a danger to herself (there is no ambulance service in the middle of Lake Tamarack if she seized) or others (if her seizure turtles tge canoe, BFF is stuck in the middle of a cold lake).

    And no, I'm not raising a child of trauma, but I am one (foster care alumna).

  9. ((((Kerrie))) I so get being emotionally bankrupt and unable to be there to help the kiddo process everything. Hang in there! You are a Good Mom! We all miss cues and potential triggers.

    I think what maybe Suzee is missing is that Princess is learning more about how to self-regulate all the time (as crazy making as it seems) and if all she did was stay home with a boring babysitter she would never have an opportunity to practice her skills, or to share in those happy successes. I mean HURRAY! she kept it together for the entire vacation (and it sounds like you all enjoyed it). I have a boy who can't take too many good things too, but that doesn't mean he doesn't get any good things.

    You are not Alone!


  10. Awesome discussion, ladies. And of course you're all right. I am aware that I am living with domestic violence- or something that looks an awful lot like it. I am also aware that I live in a state that is cutting funding from everything everywhere, especially if it has to do with children. There just aren't a lot of options, aside from paying a friend or family member privately. So far, I have had very little luck finding someone willing to be at my beck and call whenever I want to take the kids to the library or out for ice cream. Or every time Princess slaps someone. Sadly, there is no simple solution. Or even a mildly complicated solution.

    Parenting a child who experienced early trauma and neglect is different from parenting one who didn't. When I say that I believe Princess was sorry, I don't mean the way that my other children would be sorry- I mean that she showed signs of realizing that her actions have an effect on others- a relatively new thing for her. I should have been more specific.

    Suzee, I would be really interested in hearing more from your perspective, but I was unable to find a blog from you. :(

    Thanks everyone for reading!