Thoughts on Discipline

I’ve been writing about how I’m trying to let natural consequences rule the day when it comes to discipline around these parts. In some ways it’s working; in others, not so much.

As I write this Hope is about to miss the bus again and make her way down to the bus stop. Of this three-day school week, she’s clocking two late days. It’s time for me to look and see if she will eventually get detention for her tardiness; maybe that will make a difference. I don’t know.

I am still struggling with letting it go and not intervening too much. The instinct is to protect one’s kid from consequences. You don’t want them to suffer or hurt, but they also need to understand that life requires some discipline.

I think my strengths are better applied to responding to clear rule breaking.  Recently Hope broke a pretty significant house rule. The funny thing is I wouldn’t have known about it if she didn’t insist on snitching on herself. Seriously, she is a leaky bucket when it comes to keeping a secret.

Anyhoo, I had to sit down after our initial calm confrontation and think about what to do. Over time I’ve come up with a bunch of questions that I ask myself as I think through discipline.

Ok, so, there is a broken rule.

Does this really require a response?

Am I angry?

Is there any humor in this situation?

Do I understand why she did it?

Is this a trauma thing?

Is this a dumb teen thing?

Is this an adoption thing?

Will certain kinds of discipline trigger more undesirable behaviors?

If yes, is it really worth it?

Is safety a concern?

Can I have a glass of wine?

How can I end this unpleasant experience with a relaxing glass of vino?

I’ve created a Venn diagram of my decision tree.

venndiagram

Every tree ends with “Drink Wine.”

I try to be consistent, but I also try to be sure to avoid triggers. I also need to make sure that we stay connected throughout the experience; I don’t want to push her away.

I often think about how when I was punished as a kid I was sent to my room or grounded. I was restricted. With Hope…I can’t do that. I need to find ways of applying a consequence while still drawing her close to me to continue to foster attachment.

It’s confusing, especially when I am annoyed. I don’t want to be close when I’m pissy.

I’ve had to learn how to let things go and let them go quickly. That’s not my nature, but I have to for Hope’s sake.

The evening of our leaky bucket conversation, I sat her down and told her what she was going to have to do because she broke the rules.

Hope was angry. She raised her voice. I kept mine even. I explained my reasoning.

And then I dropped it.

I’d like to think I got it right, because she proceeded to spend the next two hours hanging out with me, being goofy. We laughed. We fixed dinner.

I finally had to send her off to finish her homework.

This isn’t how I was disciplined. I don’t remember wanting to hang out after getting a consequence. I don’t think my parents did anything wrong. But this is super different than what I understood it to be. It feels foreign, but not bad.

Hey, I did get my glass of wine at the end of the evening!

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Alarm Clocks & Drivers Ed

So, I decided that 2017 would really be about fostering improved executive function. Hope told me she wants to be more independent; I told her that she had to take on some basic responsibilities to that end.

One of the things I resolved is that I would stop waking her up for school in the morning. I like to go to work out in the morning and having to wake her up in the am kind of cramps my workout routine since I have to be back to wake her up. I figured if she could get herself up, then I could do my full workout. We would both be #winning.

Now I know that most parents seem to have to wake their teenagers up for school. I get that apparently is a thing. I hear that it’s “normal.” But, I also realize that this is one way that Hope can practice self-care when a backup is around. If she’s not up by a certain time, I’ll wake her up, but this is one way for her to plan and execute in a safe space.

So anyway, I bought a really cool alarm clock for Hope for Christmas. She was jazzed. I was jazzed.

LET’S DO THIS!!!!

Week 1: My girl was on IT! We both marveled and how ‘easy’ it was. It was so easy. She felt so great about herself. I gave lots of positive reinforcement, high fives and extra goodies in her lunch.

Week 2: Like most new year’s resolutions by week 2, we hit some snags. In the evenings I prompted my daughter to check her alarm clock to create the habit of making sure that it was ready to do its job in the morning. I mean, the clock has ONE dang job! Let’s make sure we set the clock up for success, especially since Hope’s success was tied to the clock’s success, right?

Yeah, the suggestion did not go over well with my wanna-be independent daughter.

I backed off.

Oh, did I mention that if Hope missed the bus this year, she has to take the public bus to school?

Please note that temps here earlier this week were in the teens with wind chills dipping into the single digits.

Oh, and that being late to school is an unexcused tardy, and you don’t get to make up any missed work?

Yeah, that.

So, Monday she had to take the public bus to school—she managed to get to school 3 hours late—I don’t even know and I didn’t even ask.

It is my circus, but that wasn’t my part of the show.

Yesterday we overcorrected such that we got the rare opportunity to have breakfast together. It was actually delightful.

Today, I finally woke her up a half hour before the bus came and reminded her that the alternative to missing the bus is the public bus.

I discovered my daughter has superhero powers that allow her to get ready in 30 minutes.

She made it.

I marveled. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her move that fast.

The public bus is great unless you are used to riding in a nice car with heated seats.

We’ll get there.

This is all about building up for eventually driving said car with butt warmers.

Ok, so the idea of Hope driving creates all kinds of mixed emotions for me. To be honest, it’s exciting to see her preparing to take drivers education, and I know that it will be a huge accomplishment for her. It will be an age appropriate hoop to jump through, and it’s so exciting.

But then, I think about our challenges…Oy. I don’t think I trust her behind the wheel of my car. I fret about her level of maturity, her decision-making skills. I think about some of the basic executive function skills that we’re trying to develop and how that ties to driving. There’s a lot going on here.

Hope and I recently attended the mandatory parent/student safe driving program. Hope and I had a good chat afterward. I asked her how she felt about driving, what did she look forward to, what scared or worried her about driving. I shared my concerns about maturity and responsibility. We talked timelines and negotiated a timeline for earning her license that worked for us.

This is such an important time in her life. These teen years can be brutal and in a number of ways Hope is just a little girl in a teenager’s body. It’s like she’s always trying to catch up, much less keep up. I wish I could make it easier for her, but we’ll just have to muddle through.

I’d like to think that six months from now the alarm clock shenanigans will be a thing of the past and I’ll be taking Hope to the biggest empty vacant abandoned parking lot I can find in the local area to practice driving.

We’ll see.

I’m hopeful. I’ve seen so much growth in her when I really sit down to think about it. It will be fine.

I’m still worried about my car.

I mean like seriously worried about my car.


Sport Parenting

As a parent, I’ve learned a lot, but one of the many things with which I still struggle is the parent vs. parent struggle.

It’s the comparison game.

It’s funny because I thought I had a hard time responding to stuff like, “How’s your daughter doing in school?  “Joe” was honor roll last quarter!”

I did, I mean, I do still have a hard time responding to this kind of inquiry.

But that’s not it. I feel like what I’m struggling with is at the other end of the continuum.

I feel like I’m competing against other parents who are children who have experienced trauma.

The good news is that I’m losing, or winning, depending on how you measure things.

I checked in with a number of adoptive parent friends recently and other parents online who are parenting children like Hope.

They’re struggles seem so much worse than mine.

Hope doesn’t have the same kind of tantrums.

She doesn’t really rage.

She doesn’t really lie much.

She doesn’t sneak out.

She doesn’t act out physically.

She’s got emotional issues, but they don’t trigger some of the dramatic behaviors I’ve heard about.

Comparatively speaking, I come away from some of these interactions thinking, what exactly is it that’s hard about raising Hope? I mean, why do I get upset? Hope is not doing any of those things.

Maybe I’m making mountains out of molehills.

I find myself minimizing the things Hope and I do struggle with.

So many kids have ADHD!

All teenagers pushback and go through phases where they don’t do what they are told.

Some kids are just so immature for their ages.

I began to think that in the game of therapeutic parenting I’m totally disqualified because we haven’t got the same problems as other parents. How dare I think our problems are comparable to other parents who are struggling to parent kids with profound grief and trauma!

Gosh this is silly, right?

Of course, sometimes I torture myself by thinking I’m lucky that Hope doesn’t act out the way other kids do. How great is it that we haven’t had to go through some of that stuff! Then I feel guilty because it minimizes what I know goes on in Hope’s head and heart, and how that affects us each and every day of our lives together.

In sport parenting, I don’t win or lose, and frankly, I’m not sure which one is which. The other things I often find myself wondering is: Why the devil am I trying to compare our experiences to that of other families anyway?

We’ve all got our own drama, and we all tend to have a lot of it.  Why would it all look the same?

And apparently, how I feel about what Hope and I endure seems to be similar to that of other parents…people tell me so. There’s an emotional similarity there. Even if the drama appears different the emotional upheaval is the same.

So, why do I still pull out a yard stick to assess how we’re doing compared to other families? Is this even natural behavior? Is sport parenting really a thing?

Are we always assessing how we measure up in our own parenting fantasy?

I don’t know.

I do know that I’m going to try to quit sport parenting in 2017.


Race Issues in Adoption – Part 2

Again, I was thrilled to have a chance to chat with TraumaMama about my thoughts on race issues in adoption.  Apparently I had so much to say that she was kind enough to break the interview into to parts. I linked to the first part recently. Today, I’m posting the link to the second part of the interview.

Race Issues in Adoption – Part 2


Happy New Year

It has been a challenging year for me, but I’ve learned a lot about myself, my daughter and parenting. I’m grateful for Hope’s patience and love through all of my missteps this year.

Hope and I have had a good year; we have had a lot of great experiences.  We’ve tried new things, gone new places, achieved new heights.

She might have grunted most of the way, but I know from Hope’s sly smiles that she has enjoyed our adventures.

I’ve encouraged her to set some goals for 2017; she resisted.

Then she relented.

She just wants to do better in school.

I’m glad (and relieved) that she wants that for herself. I want it too.

I am setting my own goals for 2017.

There are cool things to look forward to professionally and personally.  I’m eager and excited for myself and for Hope.

I am hopeful.

So, to new beginnings!

Happy New Year and thank you for following and reading this blog in 2016!


Race Issues in Adoption-Part 1

I recently had the pleasure of doing a long form interview with TraumaMamaDrama! I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk about these race, adoption and parenting with her.

Take a looksee at Part 1 of my interview!

Race Issues in Adoption – Part 1


Triggers, Triggers Everywhere

Hope’s life is a filled with trigger land mines. I’ve learned where most of them are; every now and then a new one will pop up. I make a mental note and try to just push on.

giphy1

It’s hard though because sometimes I feel like I have to give up some aspect of my life in order to avoid triggering her.

Sure, parenting is full of sacrifices. There’s always something, right? I try to remember that someday I’ll get to live fully again, but the reality is that I know that this parenting thing is life altering. Once some things are gone, they are just gone. I won’t go back to them. There are simple luxuries that I miss, like not having the same sad story told a million times because we stumbled over a trigger.

I mean, yes, I get it. Yes, I try to appropriately respond; yes, I know that it’s a good sign that Hope feels comfortable enough to tell me and share things over and over again.

All of that is true, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t grate on my nerves. #realtalk

So, of course the end of the year holidays are a trigger-fest.

Trigger, here!

Trigger, there!

Trigger, trigger everywhere!

It’s exhausting.

So, Christmas Eve, Hope and I open presents (or rather I open my 1 present, she opens her 25 presidents). This kid has a vendetta against headphones. She breaks every pair that she take possession of, even the borrowed ones. After buying her what feels like 872 pairs this year, I ponied up and bought her a decent pair of over the ear headphones. They have bells and whistles and were reasonably priced at Ross.

Cool. She oohh and ahhh’d.  And then it came….

“I used to have a pair of blue Skull Candy headphones, but a foster parent took them from me. I got them at a giveaway and she really liked them so she just took them.” Hope frowned as she was looking at the box of new headphones.

I’ve heard this story many times. It’s one of the reasons I went with over ear headphones rather than more earbuds. I guess I knew it would trigger her, but I thought maybe she might  have moved a little bit forward. #nope

She hadn’t. So I prompted her to, “Yes, sweetie, I know that was hard for you. Someone took your stuff and that wasn’t right. Now you have a new pair of headphones that are really nice. I won’t take them from you. They are yours forever.”

“I know…but…she…” “No, Hope, look forward, you’re missing out on opening that box and checking out the ones in your hand, right now. They are yours. This is real.”

It took her 2 days before she opened the box to really take a look at them.

sigh.gif

Sister M has a new dog, a gorgeous, 6 month old pit bull puppy who is goofy as all get out.

Trigger alert.

wrappers

“I had a red nosed pit bull puppy once. She was pretty. She was supposed to be mine. But they gave him to my dad’s girlfriend’s son. He was supposed to be mine.”

I’ve heard this story what feels like 1000s of times.

“Yes, Hope. I know that was rough. You lost so much stuff along the way. I’m sure the puppy was special to you. I know that she can’t really be replaced, but remember that you have a family now and Yappy is a part of our family. Aunt M’s dog is a part of the family too. We will go visit him and one day, when you’re grown you can get your very own puppy.”

“I know but that puppy…she was mine.”

sigh

“Yes, I know sweetie.”

At the jewelry show…”I want a watch like my dad’s.” We visited 10 watch booths. None had an exact replica of her father’s watch, which she seems to have trouble describing.

I was pleased to see that this year she didn’t cry when we didn’t find the watch.

Could we find a watch “kinda” like it? Was this one close enough?

Nope. It needed to be exactly like her father’s watch.

sigh

After three years, I’ve gotten much better at being compassionate and empathetic during these moments, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t also trigger a place in my own brain that screams, “Oh God when will we be able to move past this?????”

Of course, it’s only been three years after how many difficult one’s she had? Um, yeah, more than 3, quite a few more than 3, so I guess I had better get over myself.

But the repetition, the triggers, they always make me feel like we aren’t making progress. I know that’s not true, but it’s hard. You push through to some new stuff and you feel like your kid is doing the dang thing and whoops, you trip over a rock and out comes the story you’ve heard a million times complete with all the emotion that was there the first time you heard it.

It’s a bit demoralizing.

More than anything I want Hope to heal from her trauma. I know that this is part of getting there. But I’m impatient, easily annoyed and occasionally, really selfish.

The truth is that in many ways these three years feel like I’ve lived a whole lifetime because there’s been so much upheaval. I’ve got a lot more gray hair. I’m carrying another 20 15lbs or so. I’m tired. I’m on more antidepressants. I have more crinkles around my eyes. I feel like 10 years have passed.

On the other end of the spectrum, this time has flown by. I struggle to remember how many Christmas’ we’ve been a family. It’s hard to believe that The Furry One has been gone nearly 2 ½ years and that Yappy has been with us for all of our Christmas’s. I’m shocked that it seems just yesterday I was enrolling Hope in 7th grade and now she’s in 10th.

The journey has my sense of time all jumbled up, which also makes my expectations of Hope’s healing speed a bit messy as well. Why isn’t she healing from the trauma as quickly as it feels like I’m aging while trying to help her heal from the trauma????

The upside in all of this is that I know what most of the triggers are, and now, Hope is stronger and can talk to me about her triggers. That’s progress. Actually, that’s a lot of progress.

While and I can see and acknowledge all this progress; It’s still true that side stepping Hope’s land mines is hard, exhausting work. Both things are true. Being there for her isn’t always easy. It’s just not. Wishing that I didn’t have to hear the stories for the zillionth time is still true.

But I’ll listen for as long as it takes.


Thoughts on Acceptance

Christmas was lovely.  Good times with family and friends. There was lots of eating, minimal exercise, movie watching, more eating, lots of laughs and lots of catching up and dishing about life.

There was also a decision to just consciously accept some stuff that my typical hot headed self wouldn’t bother to accept.

In life, there are countless things that we must reconcile between our greatest desires and our greatest disappointments.

It isn’t easy. Some times, even after years and lots of work, we find ourselves so easily triggered. The flood of disappointment and sadness come crushing back over us like a tsunami wave. Sometimes it feels like we have to start the grieving process all over again just because of one little innocuous sentence.

For me, I know that two big triggers in the last 4 years are folks with commentary on raising a child with a trauma background and having a baby.

It’s amazing how many people have so much to say about these topics. The former I know is really because the issues are largely masked for folks outside of my and Hope’s home. They don’t know what I know or see and experience what I do. They make assumptions about my parenting, and draw conclusions about me and Hope.

The latter is more complicated because most folks don’t know that my journey towards Hope came after a pretty traumatic life event that left me unable to bear children or that my chances of having a biological child were iffy even before the event.

In the early days of this journey, I never anticipated that folks would have so much to say.  Well, they do. And, well, that sucks because it hurts.

It hurts a lot sometimes.

I’ve read a lot about other people’s journeys through parenting trauma and infertility; my story and my sensitivity around these issues aren’t unique. In fact, daily folks are posting about conversations and announcements that pierce their hearts and reduce them to tears.

Over the years, I learned to live with my deflector shields half way up. Having them all the way up creates too much of a barrier between me and the people I love. Besides, after a few years, my ability to react and respond has improved along with their level of sensitivity.

Well, I realized on this trip that my emotional shields were fully lowered, but it’s ok. It forced me to make a decision that I think will be healthier for me.

I mentioned that there is a new baby in the family. My sister gave birth to a baby boy recently. Our family is over the moon. He’s just perfect.

This triggered some comments about how folks thought me and my sisters would never have children or that it’s such a blessing that my parents are  finally now grandparents.

Oh, great, we’re two for two!

In the moment on Christmas day, I gave myself the gift of acceptance. I shared that gift and sprinkled it liberally all about.

The reality is these are people I love deeply. These are people who want the best for me. These are people who would never knowingly hurt me. These are people who may not always know what to say.

Some of these folks are a bit older and aren’t necessarily hip to all of the ways folks might be hurt or offended. Some of these folks have reached the age where even if they did, they don’t have to be uber-sensitive about much anymore because: old.

The long and short of it is, no one means to hurt me or stick their foot in their mouth, and even if they did, what does it cost me in that moment to just accept it and move on?

Oh it hurts. It does; there’s no denying that.

But accepting that there is no malice, that they may be caught up in the euphoria of having a much-desired baby around (which frankly I am as well), well, it doesn’t cost me much.

Sure, I could politely correct them. I could gently educate them. I could do all kinds of things. But frankly, that just exposes more of me and whatever emotions I’m wrestling with. It also makes me feel like I have to bring the dark cloud I keep on the shelf in my mind closet out and drag it with me everywhere I go.

I’m tired of living like that.

Just accepting folks and assuming and believing the best in them saves us both. In some of those moments, they are expressing their own joy about whatever. I don’t need to temper their joy just because they used poor phrasing or were insensitive or just didn’t remember my ouchy places.

So, I made a conscious decision to just accept the presence of commentary that occasionally dredges my wounds.

It’s life, man. It just life. I can’t have hazard cones all over the place all the time. It’s exhausting, and frankly, it’s exhausting being hurt and/or angry. It’s exhausting having the same conversations over and over. And frankly, it’s ridiculous for me to think that my life is so big that everyone should speak in whispered tones around me about babies and trauma related behaviors.

I’m a grown ass woman. This life has put me through harder paces than that.

I mean, I could write my own list of things not to say to an infertile woman or a parent raising a child with a trauma background, but guess what? It wouldn’t make that much of a difference because the folks who typically make those comments don’t run in the blogging circles I do—it’s not going to be read by them.

So, I’ve decided to practice some grace and accept these moments as they come. It’s ok.

I also know that Hope watches me, and while I teach her to advocate for herself, I want her to see when and how I choose to do it for myself. Not everything needs a response. Not everything needs a bark and a bite.

Acceptance is a good thing for me. It allows me to just put things in context. It allows me to focus on the good. It allows me to not ache. It doesn’t mean that things don’t hurt, but it makes it manageable.

I can’t change people. I only have the power to change my reaction to people.

In the end that is the power play.


I Can’t Stop Crying

In a little over a month I will be 44; Hope will be 16 in 6 months and in a few short weeks we will begin our 4th year as a little family.

Last night was our third Christmas together; and without question, it is our most meaningful, impactful Christmas yet.

Each of our years together have been amazing, but they have been fraught with grief, painful healing, flashbacks, emotional challenges and just, well, challenges that are largely invisible to our IRL friends and family. I can’t even say that one year has been harder than another; they’ve been hard in very, very different ways.

I would like to think I’ve gotten better at this momming thing over the years, but sometimes I just screw up royally. It makes me sad, often frustrated, usually furious with myself. I tend to give myself very little grace, a horrible characteristic of my perfectionism.

And then there are the times when I feel like I nailed this momming thing. In those moments, I am enormously grateful for this community, for my family and friends, and for my God who never fails me even when I’m at my lowest, most miserable place.

Holidays, all of them, even frigging Earth Day, can be tough around here. They are triggering; they bring about thoughts and memories that I have had to make room for in this life Hope and I have created. Despite her age; Hope’s emotional age is much younger, and she doesn’t always have the words to explain what she’s feeling or why. That is often really, really hard to deal with.

This year has been no different, right down to our unnecessary visit to the urgent care earlier this week. But there is something about this Christmas that is different.

Maybe it’s that I made the conscious decision to spoil her and buy lots of material things. Maybe it’s that I’ve gotten modestly better at making my own jokes about our challenges during a holiday that is always bittersweet. Maybe it’s that my love and joy about the recent birth in my family has finally manage to overpower my own infertility grief. Maybe it’s all the folks around us who we managed to bless with a little something sweet from our kitchen. Maybe it’s my own preparation for the end of the Year of the Try and the beginning of the Year of the Stretch. Maybe it’s that Yappy is with the boarder, and I realize that I am as attached to him as he is to me.

I don’t know really, but I’m seriously emotional because something is different this Christmas.

I am so emotional, and I cannot stop crying.

I think it might be that I have achieved a deeper level of love for my daughter. A better explanation is that this surly teen has really just gotten to me.

It’s funny; we love our kids right? I loved Hope the moment I first saw her picture. My heart has broken for her a million times during the last three years. It aches every time I think about what she has endured in her young life. It swells when I see her march in the band while I sit on disrespectful bleachers. It races when I have to chastise her or discipline her. It seems to stop when the tells me about her crushes.

My heart beats for her. but the reality is that often I still guard it…a lot. Hope has a lot of issues and I spend an enormous amount of time managing said issues. I do it because it needs to be done and because I love my daughter. That said, I often take a hard clinical approach to case managing our life. There’s a calendar to keep, appointments to schedule, medications to dispense, meetings to attend, testing to have done. I am a natural fixer, so all of this is firmly set in my skill set wheelhouse, but as emotionally exhausting as it can be; there is a part of my heart that I keep really, really hidden away from parenting Hope.

I think this Christmas got to that little chunk of my heart and soul this year.

Hope gave me one material gift this year, which she purchased when we were at a jewelry show together. It was so thoughtful; she has such a kind heart. I cried.

When she prayed over our Christmas delivery pizza feast, her prayer made me cry; her love for her family—all of it, first and second family—is so deep.

I went a bit hog wild with gifts this year, but her unabashed joy at an inexpensive robe from Walmart zeroed right in on that hidden away part of my heart. She wore it all night, dressed it up with jewelry, used it as a cape running up and down the hallway of the condo building, and fell asleep with it on late last night. She said, “It’s fantastic!!!” She just emerged from her room with her robe on.

I feel that in my chest.

One of my biggest gifts to my daughter was an investment account. We are by no means rich, but we are comfortable. We are blessed, but I know that my daughter hasn’t always known affluence. Sometimes it is hard for her to knit together the history of financial marginalization with the resources available to her now. I sat her down and explained to her how I would teach her so she would always feel financial safety. It’s humbling. So many of my friends and I talk about investment as a way of building wealth. We talk about being financially free. It is humbling to think of money through my daughter’s eyes and realize that this is another way I can teach her to just feel safe.

I cry both for the need to teach her about this kind of safety and that I’m in a position, blessed enough, to be able to do so.

I am overwhelmed by with joy, gratitude, love, and hope. Being Hope’s second mother is the best thing I have ever done in my life [ugly cry]. She has expanded what I know about love. She has taught me things I never thought I needed to know. She has forced me to grow even when I resisted. She has taught me selflessness. Of all the things I have done in this life, guiding her into adulthood will unquestionably be my crowning achievement. Everything else will pale in comparison.

This kid has changed me. This journey has changed me. It hasn’t always been pretty. It doesn’t always feel successful.

But there was something about Hope in that robe…that unmasked joy of a silly robe…It reached that part of my heart that I always protect for my own sanity. It opened the flood of my tears.

I love her so much it hurts.

So, I’m weepy this Christmas morning, and that’s a good thing.

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah.


A Night at the Theater

Every now and then Hope and I go through this absurd production written, starring and exclusively produced by Hope to get my attention.

These plays typically occur close to major holidays, schedule disruptions or anytime Hope apparently doesn’t think she’s getting enough attention.

[Cue Sophia Patrillo Voice]

no

Picture it: abdominal pain, usually cramps (which can legit be a problem).

Cramps worsen and ‘spread’ to the entire stomach.

Becomes accompanied by either constipation or diarrhea; initially faked.

She works herself into a frenzy, at which point the constipation or diarrhea become legit.

Pain worsens.

Cry  and moan, occasionally hyperventilating, like a bad actress in a bad horror movie.

Other side show ailments begin to emerge, including but not limited to short term amnesia, ear infections, inability to swallow, inability to talk at all, and something akin to what looks like a druggie nod.

Crying and gnashing of teeth; sometimes yelling.

[End Act I]

We’re regulars at the local Patient First; always the same diagnosis. Nothing wrong, maybe a little dehydrated. Go home, drink some water, eat some fruits and veggies.

Anyhoo, after our girl-fest weekend, I thought I’d fed the attention beast enough to sidestep her need to put on this play of Two Acts., but no, she managed to orchestrate her drama today with minimal warning.

The only warning I had was when I called to check on her this afternoon and she indicated that she didn’t know where I was; I didn’t tell her I was going to work (I did) and she wondered when I would be home.

Well, I missed my cue, because while I was at the grocery store she called in full on hysterics, yelling into the phone, moaning, screeching and vocalizing in an incoherent manner so loudly that other line-mates looked on with concern.

dancing

I tried reasoning with her, and she just couldn’t finish a sentence—she was clearly dying a quick and horrible death.

She could not get it together—not at all, so I eventually hung up.

dancing

We’ve been here before.

I set my basket down, picked up Yappy from daycare and headed home. On my way, I try to figure out why she got triggered. I also tried to control my own rage at having to “Play” this thing out with her tonight. It’s exhausting, expensive and while I intellectually get it, I find it to be over the top manipulation.

I get home to find a child who is now calm.

[Cue my simmering anger]

“Come on, let’s go to the urgent care.”

“Oh, I don’t need to go to the urgent care, I just wanted to know when you were coming home.”

giphy1

“Bull sh!t, you know the drill; put your shoes on and let’s go play this out.”

Off to the urgent care we went. Somehow on the way she developed amnesia and a busted knee which brought about an exaggerated limp—gotta make the most out of this urgent care visit.

In triage, I made her tell the nurse what was wrong with her because well, this was her drama. I’m just here to pay for the front row tickets.

Lots of concern.

Blood pressure and oxygenation: Perfect:

Fever? No.

Flu test: Negative.

Blood work: Great, if not sludgy because of dehydration.

Urine: Clear.

Abdominal palpation: She flinched a tiny bit, triggering the newbie nurse practitioner to ponder appendicitis.

Meanwhile, Hope is giggling, chatty. It’s like giving a dry flower water.

No, she does not have appendicitis.

Will I bring her back to check in tomorrow?

Hell naw, this play is over.

They gave her some Tylenol (that no doubt cost $50), and handed me a discharge slip.

Something different happened this time around though. Typically this drama is so predictable…I know my lines, she knows hers. But she added some this time.

While waiting for the urinalysis she said, ”I’m sorry.”

giphy1

“I’m sorry for what?”

“I’m sorry I yelled at you on the phone. I just wanted to know when you were coming home.”

I did not know what my lines were supposed to be, so I had to improvise.

“Um, I told you I had a couple of errands and I had to pick up Yappy. All of the drama was not necessary. I would’ve been home soon. All of this drama is ridiculous and you know that. You could have just called me to see if I was on my way.”

“I know.”

On our way home, she apologized again.

“I know I do this over and over again, so you probably don’t think I’m really sorry, but I am.”

“I know. What will you do next time?”

-silence-

“You can just call me without the drama. This girl who cried wolf has gotten old. How will I be able to tell if something is really wrong?”

“I know.”

[End Scene]

I know she is sorry. I don’t know if she has the skills to do something different and better next time. I expect that there will be more visits to the urgent care.

What’s frustrating is that I know she can’t help it. She knows I’ll take care of her. She knows I’ll drop everything to see about her.

But her trauma brain still doesn’t know that. This is how she survived; she is how she got her needs met. I know that even though she knows on some conscious level that she doesn’t have to do this, that that primitive brain of hers will continue to put on this kind of drama every few months.

And we’ll go through the motions again and again until that hurt brain realizes I’m not going anywhere.


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