The Juggler: I Just Do Not Know if I Can…

GB got off the bus Friday and said the aide yelled at her to knock it off and hit her leg. I immediately took Hope aside and asked her what she saw. She told me as GB was getting off the bus, and the aide hit her leg. I called the bus company. The owner  called me back  late Friday night and said he spoke to both the aide and the driver and they both said nothing happened and he was backing them. He said “The aide said GB was a fibber”. I said GB might misinterpret the situation, but if she said the aide hit her leg and Hope independently said the same thing, then physical contact was made. He said ” I am telling you, I am backing my people. I have known them a long time and they would never do anything like this”

I am so angry, I want to tear the people involved into a billion very tiny pieces. I am also so tired. I don’t know if I have it in me to deal with all the ignorant people I would have to deal with. I am looking at Monday’s calendar, wondering where I can squeeze in time to actually speak to the people involved and to the people responsible for their actions.  I have to figure out what complaint forms need to be filled out to go with my written letter of complaint. In order to actually get a response from the school district, I know I will have to escalate  to the State Education Department. Been there, done that.

I know what I should do. I know what I want to do. I am concerned that if I do it, that’s one more ball in the air. That ball maybe the ball that pushes me beyond what I can do. It may the ball that causes me to drop all the balls I have been juggling for so long. What use is a juggler that can’t keep the balls in the air?

An Exciting Saturday Morning

Hope started her special needs swimming lessons late this morning. Her Dad will be going with her and getting in the water to keep Hope from being overwhelmed. She put her head under the water and jumped off the side of the pool. Most importantly, she ended the class with a smile and wants to go back next week.

GB and I went to Panera’s to have a nice quiet breakfast together. Breakfast was good, but there was no quiet. Someone burnt toast in Panera’s huge toaster. They turned off the alarm. Several minutes later, a snorkel truck and an emergency fire truck pulled up and a half a dozen fireman, with their coats, boots, hats, and equipment came running in. GB was very interested and couldn’t take her eyes off them. There was no smoke that I could see, bur the firemen set up a huge, loud fan to blow the smoke through the door next to wear we were sitting. It didn’t take very long for the noise to get to GB. We came home, put on her weighted vest and a dance DVD.  She is much more regulated now. We switched to a quieter Comfy Couch DVD and she chose to keep her vest on. She has a birthday party at 2 pm. She is excited. I will take her and stay. When she has had enough, we can leave. The party will have snakes at it. I didn’t know GB even liked snakes.

Something Different: A Kiss

Hope in Michigan

Hope woke up this morning exactly the same as she went to bed- mad! She started raging because GB’s skirt fit GB beautifully. I asked her why she was mad, a question I have asked a million times before. She told me she didn’t know- which is unusual. She usually keeps on raging. It has happened before though. I waited 30 seconds or so, and when she was still looking at me I asked her if maybe she was mad that she had to change families. Not the first time I have asked that question, either. The difference was this time she looked me in the eyes and said “Yes”. Such a simple word, with so much behind it. We cuddled for five minutes without any more words. She got ready for school and had breakfast with no problems. I took both girls to the bus stop. Hope was out of the car and getting on the bus when she turned around and ran back to me. I am thinking “What now?”. She ran back and said  “I didn’t give you a kiss”, kissed me, and ran to the bus with a smile on her face.  These are the moments that keep me going.

I Don’t Wanna!

This morning I woke up to a bright sky, warm air and the first thought in my head was “I don’t wanna get up”. Hope  screamed for an hour last night. She had the afternoon I expected, the teacher conference went as expected, and the rest of the day was as expected. It all sucked. Bedtime caught me by surprise. I asked Hope three times to put her pajamas on and three times she crossed her arms and said no. Something in me rebelled at asking a fourth time, so I put her into bed in her panties.  She screamed and screamed and screamed. After an hour of screaming the Dad caught her at a lull and went in the girls room and sat in the rocking chair. She fell asleep. At that point, I had a wicked head ache. I took some medicine and went to bed.

I woke with the same headache I went to bed with. Hope had her usually lousy morning and I put the girls on the bus. The refrain in the back of my mind is now “How long before she is back?” What a waste of the Hope-less time I have! I am going to do a load of laundry and see if I can find a pair of big girl panties to wash… I seem to have run out of them this morning.

Hope’s Awful, Terrible, No-good Day

Our new “normal” with Hope hasn’t been easy. In the last 24 hours hours, Hope has out done herself.  She has pinched and kicked me, tried to poke my eye out with a pencil and bit me while I was confiscating the pencil. I received an email from her teacher saying her behavior has been difficult for the last month. She tried ignoring the behavior and depriving Hope of her end of the day prize. It didn’t work. (Mind you, Hope is in a class run by a respected children psychiatric hospital). Today Hope gave everyone mean and nasty looks, stuck out her tongue at an adult, rolled her eyes at everyone, crumbled up her seat work, announced that she was not doing any work and followed through with that. The teacher EVEN tried putting her in the timeout room for 5 minutes (Gasp!). She wants to meet with us.

After school yesterday, we went to therapy, like we always do on Tuesdays. Hope went first, then GB. The therapist never came out to get Hope for their sibling session. Afterward, the therapist told the Dad that she chose not to have the sibling session because she didn’t want to subject GB to Hope’s mean and nasty behavior. The therapist was visibly shaken.

I spoke with the MHA about respite for Hope. They are concerned that none of their regular respite workers would be able to handle Hope and keep her and everyone else safe. They want us to consider their more intensive program, aimed at children in danger of being placed. I deferred the rest of the conversation until after we see the psychiatrist on Monday.

As for the highlight of my day, I got an email that the 5 point harness is in the mail! God is good! (And so are friends!)

If You’re Thinking of Adopting…

If You’re Thinking of Adopting… this post is for you. A long time ago, my husband and I started fostering emotionally disturbed teen age boys. We dealt with guns, stolen cars, truancy, pot growing in underwear draws, and kids that set fires. Every time  the police knocked on the door and I answered, they always started with “I am so sorry to bother you, but (whoever) seems to have done (whatever). I always felt so bad for the nice policemen, who would really rather be anyway else but at my door. After  four years of dealing with the kids that our local RTC couldn’t deal with, I figured I could handle anything adoption threw my way. So did the social workers. I was wrong. The social workers were wrong, too, but they never seemed to notice.

J was born Bipolar, probably genetics activated by prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs. Back then, Bipolar wasn’t even considered. He also had a neurological processing disorder that they couldn’t pinpoint,  although they could and did 20 years later. No matter where I turned everybody told me how bright he was and how his problems were because of whatever I was doing wrong. They never could tell me what it was I needed to change. He was also biracial in a white world. It had not occurred to me how much of an issue it still was in this country, so people flinging hate at him pierced my heart. I had not developed protection from the hate.

Even church, which had always been my sanctuary, added to the problems. They were good people, but blind to the biases and hatred that was  buried deep in their souls. For the first twenty years I pretty much soloed. My husband was busy earning a living and he had been brought up to believe if you ignore problems and refuse to acknowledge them, eventually they would go away. Mental illness scared him. Confronting people about how they treated our children wasn’t his style. Medication would be admitting something was wrong. He had never learned to control his temper, so all the kids did better and it was easier for me when he was out of town. He was out of town a lot.

Nothing much changed until GB became ours when she was 5 months old. I insisted from the beginning we would do it my way. This time instead of fighting a child’s disabilities, he wanted to learn. He spent as much time with her as he could. When she was sleeping, he doggedly plowed through every book I gave him. He went to every meeting where results were discussed- Early Intervention, developmental pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, psychiatrist, PCSE and eventually CSE meetings. His involvement made a big difference with Family # 2. With J and MK, it was so much harder. It is very difficult for one person to do it all. The biggest drawback is not having someone who is just as invested in the child as you are to bounce ideas off of. Your thoughts just rattle around your brain and you miss the opportunity that a different perspective gives you.

Unexpectedly, the hardest part of adoption was isolation. My special needs, differently skinned children were not welcome by the parents of the white NT kids. We were an island unto ourselves. We found a small black church in a small city 1/2 hour away. We consciously reached out to become part of their community. More than half of the people we met were just as narrow minded as the people in the white church we had left behind. It took more than five years, but we made lasting friends. They are an integral part of my girls lives. Most of our pre-adoption friends are long since gone. With our high maintenance kids, especially Hope, just leaving them with a baby sitter really isn’t an option.  That leaves The Dad and I out of a lot of normal social situations. Most new adoptive parents who adopt special needs kids never consider whether their social support systems will stand up to the challenges that these kids can present.

Even infant adoptions run a higher risk of having a child with a mental illness. Once you get into older children adoptions, a lot of kids have some environmental damage. We adopted Hope at 41/2 years from a disruption. We knew she was RAD. I am experienced and have a great support network. Yet, I still would be reluctant to adopt a child with RAD as a single parent. I know how hard it is. I have seen single parents adopt RADishes successfully. I am just not sure I would be strong enough.

How I am taking care of myself today!

It is the first day back to school for my girls. GB needed blood work before school. The Dad took her and then took her out to breakfast. Hope was not happy. I feed Hope and got her out to the bus, still fixated on how unfair and mean I was because she wasn’t getting blood work.

It is our back to usual schedule this week, which means Hope is stuck with me 95% of the time. Hope doesn’t like that either. I meet with her teacher Wednesday. I am interested in how much the teacher has picked up on. A friend is sending me a 5 point harness she no longer needs. It is greatly appreciated, since Hope tried to kick out the window of the car again on the way to the bus this morning.

Enough on Hope. Since this is our new normal, I am adding things to my daily routine to relieve stress. I am drinking blueberry-pomegranate juice, watered down by seltzer since I find the taste too strong. I started eating yogurt with probiotics three weeks ago and am continuing. This is big for someone who hasn’t eaten breakfast since she was eight. Best of all, I made some of Sarah’s sugar body scrub! I chose a drop each of sweet orange and lemon essential oils. I also opened up 3 vitamin E gel caps and added the insides to the scrub, but it not necessary. For the first time in my life, I have smooth elbows and it happened without even trying. I just used the sugar scrub on all the places I don’t need soap. It is invigorating and easy to keep up with.  I also scheduled a massage at noon. Decadent!

What will you do for you today?

This version uses almond  extract instead of essential oil