7 Day Challenge: Day 1

There was an interesting comment on yesterday’s post. It ended with the question “Should I tell my daughter I’m taking this challenge, and let them hold me accountable?!”. I gave it some thought and decided to tell GB this morning. GB is in a good space right now and most of our interactions are positive. She thought it was a good idea and asked if it included MK. I hadn’t thought about including her, because at 26, she really isn’t a child. I decided it was a good idea to include her in my challenge. It would be a good opportunity to model how other people  can should not be able to make you respond in a certain way.

I chose not to not to tell MK and Hope. MK generally starts the day in a positive space, but tends to interpret anything other than 100% agreement, including silence, as negative. Hope would consider it a challenge to make me lose my temper. I realize GB may tell either or both of them, since I never asked her not to. If it happens, it will make it a little more difficult.

So far today, I am having success. Of course, Hope just got home from school. I am looking forward to getting at least a couple of positive comments in for Hope before bedtime.

For those of you taking the challenge with me; Did you choose to tell your child(ren)? How did your first day go?

Why I am Proud to Be a Trauma Mama

A Trauma Mama is an ordinary mother who chooses to parent a child from the hard places. For various reasons, our kids have experienced things no child should have to experience. Abandonment, abuse, overwhelming neglect. Trauma. Children from Trauma can not be parented in the ways society takes for granted that neuro-typical children are raised. Ordinary parenting does not work with children of trauma. You need to have a whole different perspective on parenting.

Children from the hard places are different. They have never learned the world is safe. Their internal tapes are filled with shame, anger and worthlessness. They have no self worth and instinctively sabotage any good that comes into their lives.

As a Trauma Mama, my parenting is based on years of hands on experience. It is also based on years of literature, past and current. Not only books, but every scientific article I can find. I attend seminars that introduce new techniques that might be useful. And I have my other Trauma Mamas who share their hard earned knowledge with anyone interested.

Being a Trauma Mama is not for the faint of heart. It is 24/7, it is intense, it is relentless. And when I am not sure I can do it another second, my Trauma Mamas are there to tell me I am doing an awesome job and to breathe, I can take the next step.

A lot of Trauma Mama’s have multiple children who came from trauma. Our children do not  define us as Trauma Mamas. How we chose to react to their behaviors and the commitments we make to them are what defines us.

That is why I am proud to be a Trauma Mama.

Reiki, Maybe

I haven’t seen my sister-in-law for more than a couple of hours at a time since GB was a baby. What little time we have spent together has only been in large family crowds. She and The Dad’s brother recently retired and moved from Chicago to the mountains of North Carolina. They built an enormous house with a large pool and a hot tub. We have been here since Wednesday.

The kids are living in the pool and by 8:30 are out on their feet. We have had plenty of opportunity to catch up. The one thing that stood out was that 4 years ago, my SIL became a Reiki master. She arranged for everybody but her and I to be out of the house for two hours tomorrow and is going to introduce me to the art.

I know several Trauma Mamas that use Reiki, not only for themselves, but to help their kids heal. I am looking forward to finding out at least the basics tomorrow. Maybe I can use it to help Hope…

Getting Smarter

After my break through with Hope, not only was I ready for the crazies, I was preemptive. All  yesterday Hope stayed right with me. She did get annoyed late yesterday afternoon when I was talking to GB and not her. She started to write on herself and I was immediately on it. I told her sit on her mat. She gave me a flat out “NO”. When I told her she could comply or she could skip her Friday field trip, she sat down. In less than a minute she was trying to bite me. I restrained her and she raged. It only lasted a half hour or so and then she relaxed and we cuddled. She wouldn’t eat again, so I put her to bed. This morning I was ready for her. As soon as she was dressed, she was sitting until I was ready for my day. She was with me while I made breakfast, made GB lunch, and did GB’s hair. She held my hand while we walked out to the driveway and waited for the bus. As the bus pulled up, she smiled at me and said “I love you Mama”. Now, a six hour breather.

How I Deal With the Wango Tango and Hope

Hope is my second full blown RADish. When I adopted my first RADish 20 years ago, there was very little knowledge available to parents and nobody said attachment disorder. My first Radish even snowed all the professionals until she was 16. I was the one that was labeled crazy. And, really, I didn’t know how to change things.

With Hope, many things are different. There is a wealth of reading material on RAD available. Even living in the middle of nowhere, I was able to locate a psychiatrist who gets it and a therapist that is competent. I only have to drive an hour each way. There are many different versions of best in the RAD world, but I sort through them and cobble together what seems best for my kid. The biggest thing I have now, that I didn’t have the first time? The internet which led to bloggers which led to Trauma Mama’s who share there ideas, offer love and support, give suggestions, and let it be known that I am not alone; we are all in this together.

A reader, Penelope , recently commented… Wow! Please share your insights on how to deal with the tirades. Ignore? Nurture? Discipline? I would love to hear more!

So, in response, I am sharing our current strategies, such as they are for Hope’s Wango Tangos.

  • Hope is either with the Dad, with me, or in school. She is always under strict observation.
  • If she is in public and she starts, one of us leaves with her. We always deprive her of an audience.
  • Nurture during a Wango Tango does not help. However sometimes just being quietly available until she runs herself down allows us to slip straight from the Wango Tango into the nurture.
  • If she starts attacking people or throwing and/or breaking things we move to containment, with the message “we will keep you safe when you can not”. When we have to contain her, it takes a lot longer to get to the nurture. On the flip side, if she needs to be contained, she frequently goes longer before going off again.

We also have a lot of structure in our day, with planned opportunities for attachment activities.

  • We always fix and serve Hope breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. We want her to know that we will always make sure she is taken care of.
  • We give her (limited) choices everyday, so that she knows her opinion is important to us.
  • We keep her world small enough for her to experience some successes and always acknowledge them.
  • Each of us makes sure there is mandatory cuddle (The Dad) and rocking (me) time each day.
  • We are quick to notice and respond to any genuine emotion she allows us to see.
  • Morning and bedtime routines seem to be very important to her stability- if one of them has to change, we all pay for it. We do everything in our power not to change them.
  • We made wordless picture books of Hope’s life story, that we look at regularly together, letting her use her words to tell us about the pictures.
  • A lot of conversations start, ” In our family, we always __________”
  • Most important, we start off with the attitude that every day is a new day, with a new chance for success.

A Quiet Weekend

The girls got their quiet weekend. The did not leave the house at all. Instead of going out Friday night, we stayed in and had a pizza party and watched Frosty the Snowman. Saturday, every one woke up with a simple URI.  We played games, we had waves of little paper every where, they helped make waffles. Hope blew up a couple of times, GB was convinced that everyone hated her and liked Hope better. We took advantage of the lack of commitments to process these feelings with her and it seemed to help some. Sunday morning, every thing outside  was covered with ice. A full day in Sunday was the best end to our weekend.

Fric and Frac

When I was young, my Mom used to call my brother and one of his friends Fric and Frac. They looked nothing alike, but where you found one, you found the other. For the most part, they were interchangeable- If one of them wasn’t figuring out what trouble to get into, the other was. Not real trouble- just the usual shenanigans boys got into 40 years ago.

I find myself sometimes thinking of Hope and GB as Fric and Frac. They like many of the same things, and the best (worse?) consequence I can give them is to insist they play in separate rooms. They complain about each other using the same words, which is partially caused by Hope’s tendency to mimic GB constantly, but also comes from their common lack of social skills. The constant “She’s looking at me” gets old, but not as aggravating as the realization that I let them out of my sight and there is nothing but silence. They know they are not allowed out of sight and that it won’t last long, so they take advantage of it whenever I let it happen. Once it was talcum powder all over MK’s bathroom, another time it was Fric, Frac and Ellie eating baking chips behind the couch. They have painted the radiators with nail polish and “baked” with a combination of moon sand and brownie mix.

It is never more than a couple of minutes and it doesn’t happen as often as it did in the beginning (it takes forever to clean up talcum powder, especially with their help) but during those times, I think the best bonding occurs between them… Fric and Frac vs. the Mom.

Strong Sitting and Other Stuff

In answer to yesterday’s questions:

  • Strong sitting is a technique to help children switch which part of the brain they are using. They sit still, with their backs straight, and their arms relaxed. Most people I have heard of strong sit on a mat. The goal is one minute per year of age and three times a day. The child sits quietly and you can suggest what they should think about or just let them get in touch with their feelings. I use chairs because you can carry it over to public places and use it when they need to take it down a notch or when you just need two minutes of uninterrupted time (such as registering kids for school). We practice several times a day, when we don’t go out, so that they don’t have to think about what to do when I need them to do it.
  • Eye contact is a very important piece of the attachment process. Hope has it with the Dad, but would strongly prefer he was the only parent. The only way I get eye contact is with sweets. The idea is that with enough practice, she will pair the good feelings of the sweets with my eyes. 
  • At this point, I am the only one providing meals and treats. We have not gotten to the point Hope tolerates me. It will be interesting to see how long it takes.
  • Hope fell and skinned both knees yesterday.There was enough blood, it needed a bandage. Not a tear or scream. She laughed! I washed it off, which made her mad and got the response “Don’t touch me”. I told this was a mommy job, dried it off and put an impressively large band aid on it.
  • MK flipped yesterday. As a result, both girls were off all after noon. More on the other blog.