Monday, March 21, 2011

Sneezy's Series of Unfortunate Events!

Okay - after today, my prince has a new title to the book that he is writing.  

Isn't Life RAD?? Living with Reactive Attachment Disorder Children 

Now you may wonder what is RAD... good question, the short answer is this:

Reactive attachment disorder is when infants and young children don't establish healthy bonds with parents or caregivers. A child with reactive attachment disorder is typically neglected, abused, or moved multiple times from one caregiver to another. Because the child's basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren't met, he or she never establishes loving and caring attachments with others. This may permanently alter the child's growing brain and hurt their ability to establish future relationships. Reactive attachment disorder is a lifelong condition.

But your next question will be, What does this look like on a daily basis?  This is far more complicated and is unique to each child that suffers from the diagnosis.  We have two children with this, and it presents differently in each one. 

But for Sneezy and her several days of unfortunate events... when it all came to a head, it looked like this...

As always, a bit of background...Sneezy is on the cusp of being a young woman, and for all intensive purposes is, the issues that prevent her or us from taking this giant leap into young adulthood his her inability to know how to correctly behave is social situations, how to properly engage in conversations, in person or electronically.

And so the story begins... Sneezy wanted a Facebook account.  The Prince and I are hesitant because of her inability to observe what most would consider a normal understanding of social graces and the natural ability to know that you don't comment on every photo, every wall post etc.  We did acquiesce and allow her to open an email account for the purpose of communicating with teachers, checking grades, and getting updates on school happenings and schedules.  (and as a gauge as to how she would handle the responsibility that went along with having an email account) The Prince and I have the pass code and we are able to monitor her account, and things have been going well.  So for her 14th birthday we purchased an Ipod for her (you know the fancy kind with the touch screen and wireless Internet.) which we got used from a reliable source and have been monitoring her time on that as well.  However recently, we were noticing that she was obsessing with texting (using the free texting app) that she downloaded, as well as a general over use of the Ipod. 

So now we are all current, Sneezy went away on Friday after school and while she was gone, her Ipod goes off and she has a facebook message... I say something to the Prince, asking if he gave Sneezy permission to open a facebook account.  He says no.  I say well she just got a notification that she has a message... The Prince says we will talk to her in the morning..

Fast forward to Saturday Morning after breakfast, and we ask her about her Facebook account, which she denies having... really we say, since you got a new message notification on your IPod while you were away last night, it would seem you have a facebook.  " OOOhhh that..." she draws out, "ummmm... well I share an account with a friend.  Oh, we say... this is not acceptable, you have gone behind our backs and have been deceptive about this, so you need to cut all ties to this account, and hand over your Ipod for a week.  In a huff, she says "FINE." Whatever, I didn't really want an account anyhow." (RAD response: to lie about what you really want to make it seem like you don't care about the situation)

So my Prince says while we have Sneezy's undivided attention, do you have any other "new" accounts we should be aware of?  "No."  Prince pushes further, no email accounts, no other facebook accounts, nothing new? "Nope" . 

Now it is important to note that there is no one else in ear shot of this conversation.... this will be important later... we wrap up, she hands over her IPod and we move on with the day -- (RAD response: no remorse, no desire to "make things right" the reaction is to pretend the incident never happened)

So fast forward to Sunday: Our exchange student gets in the van to go to church, excitedly looks over her shoulder and says to Sneezy, " I find you on facebook, I request to be your friend, when you get facebook?"  "What?  Who did you request to be your friend? I inquire as we are driving towards the church.  What was her full name because, our Sneezy does NOT have a facebook....  Sneezy Lingle, I find her on someone elses friend list, I request her." 

Oh my, there must be a mistake I say to the exchange student.  So please show me the friend acceptance and the account attached to it when you get confirmation please.  
All the while in the rear view mirror Sneezy's face goes through about 16 color changes of red...all the while blubbering about how she does NOT have a facebook.

So after church Sneezy and Sleepy head out to the great outdoors for the afternoon with a friend, and I, and a friend turn into Internet sleuths... hacking facebook accounts, which we still have no understanding of what happened... but to summarize - Sneezy in a series of very unfortunate events created a ghost account, hid it from the Prince and I as well as her big sister Doc. But because she could not hide all people, and could not spell the exchange students name, the exchange student could access her... (RAD response: inability to think things through to a logical conclusion, which is that eventually on someones Facebook friend list, someone who knew she should not have an account would see her.) 

Well at the end of the day, Sneezy and the Prince and I sit down to have a conversation about the situation.  Now please remember it is just a discussion about telling the truth in all things, and that when you lie it breaks trust, and to point out that she had ample opportunity on Saturday to tell the whole truth but how one lie snowballs into more lies until you are caught in an avalance of lies that burry you alive (okay that visual was for all of you without RAD or processing disorders, because had we said all that Sneezy's head would have been spinning.)  

So I sit at the laptop and tell Sneezy to log into her Facebook account... so she starts typing in an email address that is not her gmail account.  And feigns not knowing her password... but is she pretending or is this part of the series of unfortunate events... so we log on to the home page for hotmail and she tries to log in there - however her account is frozen because of too many unsuccessful log in attempts (and not by me that afternoon, because I hacked her account through her gmail email. ) So now it seems that Sneezy went to a lot of work to create on the sly, an account both in hotmail and facebook, that she could not use or access, because she did not write down the passwords... um... would that be the chastening of the Lord for being disobedient to her parents???

Now here is the RAD part --- the focus we are trying to discuss is the issue of sin in her life (lying and being deceitful) but because of her issues the wall goes up, the emotions leave her (except anger and irrational thought; if that qualifies as an emotional response) and the conversation swings with more drama and unrelated events than a weekday soap opera... from we are not caring enough parents,  to we are all up in her business and need to not care so much, to we are ruining her dreams, to she wants to work at McDonald's all her life.  If she got pregnant we would kill her and her baby, she wants to go to college now, but we will never let her leave our house to she is leaving and we can't stop her.  Why would she waste time talking to us because we are not her real parents... well I guess you get the idea. 

To all of this I sit shaking my head, rationally trying to talk to an irrational child, who is a broken and cracked vessle that the Lord, almost 8 years ago placed in my heart and home to love forever.  Feeling like I am failing to be able to prepare her for the basic situations in life, where she will be faced with consequences from poor choices, confrontations with others asking her to do something different or not do something at all... wondering if we are getting through at all.

Again, no connection, no remorse and today 24 hours later,  it is as if the conversation never happened, as if she never had electronics or the right to use them in our home, not a thought in her mind,  that she broke a bond of trust, that she unknowingly spent so much time and energy building;  by going behind our backs and doing what she wanted.... 

So I once again offer this snap shot of life with a big sigh, and a humble recognition that you can't make this stuff up....and often giggle to myself to think that God placed all this in my hands because He thinks I am more than capable of all things through HIM who strengthens me....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We are never to old to learn... or at least to see the world through a different lens!

So it has finally happened.  Happy has a friend.  We will call him Jester.  There is a long sorted story behind how Jester and Happy got to this place.  It would stand to reason that birds of a feather flock together, and it would seem that these two have more in common than one would think. 

But let me start in the beginning: Happy has never really expressed an interest in having a friend, it would seem to me that surrounded by a pile of siblings, and a home that has a revolving door on the front and back for friends, family and neighbors to walk through has served him fine until this point. 

Out of the blue, Happy says that he has plans to go to a school function with Jester.  Well being that I am a mom that insists on planning and plotting every detail of the ten person family, I figured that I would ignore Happy's plea for this outing and eventually, he would forget about the event.  NOPE.  This was not to be the case, so when I got a phone message about the event, I again thought - I will let this ride, it will pass... NOPE.  And as a side note, Happy is very content and rarely asks to do this mildly compelled me to pick up the phone and call to investigate said friend and trip to the school  function. 

As it turns out my good buddy Happy had the facts wrong... shocked?  I am not.  But I do the good mom thing and offer to take Jester and Happy to the event.  I also offer to bring Jester home with us after school, and allow him to visit and have dinner with us prior to the event.

I am a bit puzzled about the whole situation as few things just did not add up... Jester's mom did not seem to be concerned about who I was, like am I an ax murderer,  nor did she introduce herself.  Now, I know that I am the atypical mom in some regards - I like to know all the details - the more details the better...she did not even give her name to me until the end of the conversation, when I asked her for it...

So now plans are set, and I am still scratching my head, puzzled over the fact that this child is in Happy's class, and Happy's class is filled with special needs kids, would you not think that she would even want to fill me in on Jester's needs, or if he had allergies... So I email Happy and Jester's teacher... ask some vague questions about their friendship, and if she can give me some information on what I can expect when I pick up the boys at school. 

Her email back to me simply says, " Oh boy.  I will call you if that is okay." 

Now in the meantime, my Prince says to me that this situation that I find myself in, really is my own fault.  I did not ask this woman for information about her son, so why am I upset that I don't have information about her son... well I guess that is a good point, but some parents are in denial about the special needs of their children, so I didn't ask because I didn't want to offend??? The conversation was already awkward enough, because all the conversation was one sided ( my side) and she gave one word responses... nothing additional... with many pregnant pauses...

 "Were you planning on taking Jester and Happy to the event?"  "No"  " Would you like Happy and I to meet you at the event?" "NO" "can someone come get Jester after the event? " "NO"  "Do you think Jester would like to come home after school with Happy and have dinner and then go to the show with us?" "Sure", "Can you send a note to school so I can pick up Jester?" "Yes" - I think you get the idea!

Well the appointed time rolls around on the clock and the teacher calls to give me the "skinny" on the situation.  It is a sad story of a boy who much like Happy, adopted, later in life, been through a lot with a host of special needs.  But as the story unfolds, I feel my heart being pricked towards ministering to this little boy. 

The Prince and I discuss this over lunch and the decision is made to keep the plans for the day the same and love Jester like he was one of our own....

Promptly at 2:35 Happy and Jester stroll out to the car.   Happy is extremely giddy, silly and sing songy as he calls me Mommy - O and rattles on about how I am the bestest mom in the whole world...
Now give me a minute to tell you what I was expecting to see when I picked up my lil' ol Happy and his little friend....this:  someone slight in size like Happy, big smile on his face, hard to remember upon glancing at him that he is almost 14.  (Happy could pass for your average 10 year old)

Here is what greets me... Happy, and a very tall, man-boy, with hair that he shaved himself , double the height and width of Happy. 

Jester is very sweet and friendly, he offers to sit in the back seat, and  I instruct Happy to sit with his friend... His reply  " Yes Mommy - O "

Jester is obviously very self conscious about his self induced haircut, and says : "I cut my own hair, because I wanted a military cut.  Do you think you could fix it for me ?  I reply - well you look like you got most of it, and because I don't know your family very well, it would probably not be a good idea for me to fix it for you. Well could you let me use your scissors Jester inquires?  Um no Jester, I don't think we will be using scissors today, but how about we go for some ice cream on this beautiful day?"    So in a fit of child like giggles, the boys decide that ice cream would be a great treat..."Mommy - O"

So I pull into the convenience store, and point the boys in the direction of the Good Humor case, and go to refill my own beverage cup.  Come back around see that the boys have decided that they are going to do everything the same, so they are both going to have drumsticks.  We go to the counter to pay, and I send Happy for napkins, we pile into the car, windows down, head home.  What transpired in the span of 2 miles and 6 minutes is still a mystery to me.  By the time we pulled into the drive way, Jester is asking if I can help him get a stain out of his pants.  But when he and Happy get out of the back of the car, they have ice cream on their faces, hands and all over their pants..not just one spot but smears every where...

In the house we go, all the while Jester being very concerned about not touching anything, because he doesn't want to get ice cream stains on it.... I have them wash their hands, they do but never touch their faces (why because I did not tell them too!) I give up on having Jester try to wipe off the chocolate on his tan pants and find an outfit for him to change into, and take his and Happy's clothing to the washer, 1/4 of a bottle of spray and wash later - and the washer is running!

 Note to self... next time a nice refreshing beverage might be best!

In the meantime, Happy has to do dish before going out to play with Jester.  Jester is cheerfully helping when I come down from the washing machine.  Talking up a storm about how he and Happy should do everything together and how he can make him a bracelet, about his dogs and about his hair cut.  Now it seems that one of the things that Jester is good at is telling the same story over and over again,  AND Happy is great at listening to the story and smiling and nodding.  Jester is the talker, Happy is the listener...   and I start to think aren't all great friendships like that?  One friend is always the talker and the other is always the listener!

Life lesson # 1 for the day - Ice cream is the glue that seals the friendship deal!
Life lesson #2 for the day - Good friends, balance each other out!

So the next activity they choose to do is go out and play... now Jester doesn't want to mess up his good shoes so he is trying to wear a pair of Happy's shoes... Remember the size difference... Happy is in a size 4 and Jester a 13 I note, when I glance inside his good shoes.  Fortunately for Jester, Happy has a big footed brother and we can hook him up with a pair of shoes to wear to play in!

Life lesson #3 - Friendship is blind to the obvious differences that we each have... they wanted to be so much the same that there was no way in Jester's mind that he couldn't fit Happy's shoes!

To the outdoors we go!  Now I will say at this point I am still unsure about what will happen if  I am not an ever present sight for them while they are playing (not dissimilar to those days of small children learning to play alone, I sat on the fringe and watched, encouraged and cheered for them.)

At one point Happy was running with his hands full and with an untied sneaker... I cautioned him, slow down and tie that shoe before you trip... Jester, says to him... "stop I will help you", I think he is going to take the toys out of Happy's hand, but instead he bends down and ties his shoe for him.

Life lesson #4 - A friend does things for you that are sometimes hard for you to do.

So we played basketball - one time I counted 22 shots, not one went in...

Life lesson #5 - A friend encourages you to keep trying.

We jumped on the trampoline.  We had to stop because there was a bee, but Jester swatted it away so that it would not sting Happy. And then they ran at top speed into safety.

Life lesson # 6 - Sometimes we do things for our friends that are scary.

We played more basketball, we had another snack and we played video games.
We had dinner, got dressed, we attended the event at the school, and we took Jester home. 

While it is now very clear to me that birds of a feather DO flock together...I have to say, I learned a lot from Happy and Jester regarding friendship today.  Sometimes, we just need to slow down, and look at things through a different lens... 

Really, you can't make this stuff up.  And today I am happy that I did not miss this time, or these life lessons taught to me by my special needs child and his first ever friend Jester.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What's in a Name???

Well I suppose I should start out by saying a name is a name right?  Many names are same - but spelled differently:
Amy, Ami, Amie
Sarah, Sara
Catherine, Katherine
Karen, Caryn

Hence the most recent tale of our dwarf Grumpy...

Now it also bears reminding you the reader that Grumpy is not know for his ability to make good choices, or even to be able to see into the future regarding things that he has done on the fly or off the cuff as it were.

I will back track a bit for you so that you can get the whole history on this particular situation.  Last week Grumpy came home from school on Thursday and was in a particulary fine mood.  In the midst of the arriving home chaos, he choose to fly way under the momma radar and disappear upon entering our home.  Often this happens as the kids always seem to wait to use the bathroom until they get home from school.  I am welcoming the Behavioral Service Team to the house to work with Sleepy and Bashful, and after about 10 minutes realize that Grumpy  is no where to be seen or heard....  Unusual to say the least - and at the most a good indicator that he is up to no good. 

So I settle everyone into their assignments - and go off in search of Grumpy - not in his room, not in the bathroom, not outside.  Head to the basement - TaDa ! there he is... watching TV which is an absolute no-no during the week.  (His excuse is that because Sneezy is home sick and is watching TV, so should he be allowed)  So I call him upstairs to get me his homework.

"Mom, I dont have any homework. |" That is funny I think to myself, because tomorrow is his spelling test.  I instruct him to go out to the garage and get his backpack - he comes in with just his planner... can you say RED flag???  When the boy ignores a directive, it is ALWAYS because he is trying to avoid something. 

I play his game - " Grumpy, I instructed you to get your back pack. Why did you only bring me the planner? "  No response - I open the planner - now mind you he is supposed to write his assignmnets in everyday! and the last three days are blank !  So I say - this is amazing - no homework?  Not even spelling ? 

GO OUT TO THE GARAGE AND GET YOUR Notice becuase I think he may have hearing issues- NOT! I speak loudly so that I make sure he can hear me ---

He returns 5 minutes later with a big attitude and an even bigger mess.  We could officially change his dwarf name to Sloppy - but since that is not an option, I just wanted you to know that it would so fit in this particular moment. 

I make him remove all the items from his messy back pack - we have papers flying around everywhere, tests that were supposed to be signed and returned, papers for me to read about upcoming events, but most importantly balled up in the bottom of the bag (becasause if you make something look like trash, magically it is!) two hit sheets --- one dated 13 days prior and one for 4 days prior. 

"Hum..."I say to Grumpy - " what are these?"  No response - "when were you going to give these to me?"  "oh Today mom he says"   Really ??  Doubtful since this one is 13 days overdue!  His response - " Well I told my teacher you were holding them and refused to sign them like before."    NICE, the boy does listen! See side note!

Side note - yes one other time about three weeks ago he got some hit sheets and because they were over a week late when he gave them to me (or I shook him down for them) I told him and his teacher that if he was in no hurry to have me sign them so that he would not miss recess everyday - then I was not going to make signing these sheets a priority for me either - and when I got around to reading and signing them I would give them back to him to turn in, and in the meantime, he would need to continue missing recess or whatever the punishment was for such an offense.

So I email his teacher and let her know that I just got these items in my hands that day - Thursday and that as he stated to her previously I was in no hurry to return them and that she should just continue to administer consequences for him until he returns the hit sheets.

His teacher emails me and says in so many words that she is really sorry to have fallen... AGAIN... for Grumpy's shenanagans.   That on MONDAY ( reminder it is now Friday) he told her that I was holding the papers and that I refused to sign them.   So she was sorry and I could send them in whenever - but did I know that there were three, not two.    So I email back and say to her that I know she has a lot going on and I dont blame her for listening to Grumpy, but that she needs to remember that everything he says needs to be followed up on - yes that is exhausting - but look he got away with things for another 4 days and completely got his teacher off his back, and no I did not know that there was third.

Fast forward to Monday - over the weekend I signed Grumpy's sheets and sent them back to school with him.  When he went to turn them in after missing recess for 2 weeks basically, his teacher asked about the third one.  Oh he forgot to get it - goes to his desk and comes back with it ....

Signed by Brian Lingle --- not that the childish cursive would have given him away, but when you forge someone's name, you really should know how they spell it.  His daddy spells his name Bryan !!

Really, you can't make this stuff up!