My 500th Post Here… On Being a Therapeutic Parent

Being a Therapeutic Parent is not just hard. I am sitting here, nursing my swollen hand, scratched face, and bitten arm and looking at Hope. Hope is in control and doesn’t have a mark on her because of the last ninety minutes of sweat-pouring-down-my-back effort. It is only 2 o’clock in the afternoon. 5 1/2 hours to bedtime. My question is “How do I continue to be a Therapeutic Parent?”

After thirty years of parenting kids from the hard places. I have mastered (mostly) the art of waking up and looking at each day as a fresh start. I have always struggled with the day that has already gone south. I struggle with feeling that my best wasn’t good enough. Obviously, since my child has just managed to rage for X hours. Or my sweetheart just called the worker a F*cken’ B*tch. My child walking out of Manifestation Hearings also tend to make feel like it is pointless to go on. If I stay in that place long, the tears start.

When I reach the why*bother*stage, I find I have to intentionally fight my way out. And, so far, I have not found a sure fire way out. Sometimes, really cold ice tea and a rocking chair, helps me reset. Another time it might working in the garden. Occasionally, another Trauma Mama can talk me down. Before all my health problems, a long walk helped. Chocolate has a good shot, too. None of these methods give the grace of a new day.  I am tense. I keep Hope on a short leash because I know if she has another major meltdown, I will be unable to keep my therapeutic panties on.

I can appear patient. I can sound reasonable. I can even go through motions correctly. So what is the problem? The problem is children with Reactive Attachment Disorder have a built in emotional radar that spots a sore points and aims for it. They can’t  help themselves. Time and healing are the only things that help. 

We are on our way home, facing 17 hours of driving. I am asking God for the grace to keep myself regulated because I know Hope won’t be. It would be unreasonable for me to expect it to be any other  way.

Through the Rage

Hope came home from school yesterday surly. I gave her a snack and afterwards told her it was homework time. She responded by kicking me, with her shoes on, hard. I immediately took her to the floor and restrained her. 

Hope was prone, I was on my side. I had Hope’s arms crossed over her head. I took her shoes off. All normal stuff. She tried to head butt me, and I put my cheek in the hollow of her neck so that she couldn’t. Skin to skin contact. Hope struggled a little less. I realized I had enough movement left in my left index finger to reach Hope’s cheek. I started softly stroking it. I used no words, just touch.  After fifteen minutes of screaming, threatening, and trying to scratch me, she went limp. I kept stroking her cheek. Time passed. When I felt safe enough to let Hope up, the rage was gone. 

The games were still there. The homework was done incorrectly. She tried her usual bag of RAD tricks. BUT… the rage was gone and for that I am thankful.


Our experience with the Holter Monitor was a failure. Hope spent most of yesterday raging, tear off the leads and throwing the monitor itself. When we finally gave up on the monitor, she started throwing everything she could get her hands on. The Dad ended up with Hope in full restraint multiple times over the day. We will have to try again next week. The Dad is really down that  we were unable to maintain her to complete the test. I am just resigned to having to repeat it.

Yesterday was no fun for GB. Today one of us will take GB swimming and give her one on one time.

Staying In the Moment

The Dad went out to dinner with friends tonight. He fed the girls and got them in pajamas first. The Dad definitely needed the socializing more than I did. The girls watched a fairy movie on Disney  and there were only a few flare-ups. When the movie was over, I gave then their meds and said bed time. Hope flipped. She was not tired, she was not going to bed with out her father and I couldn’t make her. I said “bed” and she started screaming and hitting.I forced a PRN into her and set her down. She screamed, cried, and threatened me for 45 minutes. As the PRN started working, there were pauses between her outbursts. When we had 3 minutes of silence, I quietly told her to go to bed. She did. I got through this evening by staying in the moment.

She is asleep and I am angry. I am so tired of being abused by a six year old- traumatized or not. Tomorrow is a new day. I am taking the morning to myself. Hopefully, that will be enough for a fresh start. I am not Christine. Now I need to try to sleep.

Hope No Likey Homework

The girls came home from school yesterday, had a snack, and sat down to do homework. In less than thirty minutes, GB’s homework was neatly done, correct, and in her book bag. Hope had done one problem and had done it incorrectly. It wasn’t rocket science- just writing a number sentence to go with a picture. All she needed to write was 4+1= 5. We went over the picture, and wrote the corresponding number for each group of balls directly on the picture. Since she has been writing number sentences for homework for the last 6 weeks, I reread the directions and told her to fix her number sentence. When she came back with 4+5=1. I knew she had shut her brain down. At this point I told her, like I usually do, that we would work on the homework for 1/2 hour and then put it away. Today was different. The Dad was home. Hope informed me she didn’t need my help, her Daddy would help her. The Dad came in the room to help her with her homework. He quickly figured out Hope wasn’t interested in actually doing the work, she wanted him to do it for her. He wouldn’t. At that point, all was left was the rage. Short Version: She screamed, stomped her feet, slammed doors, and eventually started throwing things at people. It was almost 5 when the Dad had enough and put her to bed kicking and screaming.

This morning, we put her incomplete, damaged homework sheets in her folder. Ms. Very Young Teacher is starting to come around. I received an email from her saying that Hope was busy taping the homework sheets together and would be completing them before starting on today’s work.

Both girls’ CSE meetings have been rescheduled for Monday. So far, a productive morning 🙂


I received a call from the girls school this morning. Hope had a high AND irregular pulse. Of course, I am still stuck in bed. I called our doctor, got a hold of the Dad, and off he went to pick up Hope. Hope saw the doctor and after she spoke to the school nurse, she ordered blood work. The Dad took Hope to the lab, where she proceeded to flip out. No matter how he tried, he couldn’t keep her still enough that the tech could take the blood sample needed. They are home now. The Dad is pissed angry that he couldn’t get the blood test done, Hope is busy telling me how it is the Dad’s fault, MKs fault, my fault- anybody’s fault but hers. I am left here in bed, worried about Hope’s irregular heartbeat. UUGH!

The Dad Asked

Last night The Dad asked me to write a post like yesterday’s post, except make it about Hope instead of GB. There have been some logistical issues. We have only had Hope for a little over a year. I don’t know the real Hope. We haven’t broken through the RAD yet. Hope is still physical whenever she rages. And she is still raging. My instant reset button is broken. I know a lot of you understand that.  I can’t keep her safe without risking getting hurt- especially in public. I will not willingly take Hope some place public by myself because of that. So today’s post won’t be the same. It will be shadows of future possibilities.

Hope is an angry little girl. Given her background, it is unreasonable to expect anything else. I get 90% of her anger. Again, it is unreasonable to expect anything else. I do not always deal well with being the constant focus of her anger. The Dad wishes that were different. So do I. Right now it is not.

Hope is not FASD, ASD, Bipolar, or ADHD. She is broken. What happened to her with her first adoptive family broke the child God made. God gave us this child to help her become what he intended. She has music in her soul. She is never as happy as when dancing her ballet. She trusts no one- not even The Dad, although he gets more trust than anyone else. The fact that she does trust The Dad more than anyone else, gives me hope… the ability to trust has not been completely destroyed. Hope is so far behind because of the neglect she lived with- she is missing concepts such as first, last, yesterday, tomorrow. After a year of working on them, they are still not usable. Rhyming words and beginning sounds do not exist to Hope- yet she wants to read and takes every opportunity to “read” to me. A drive that strong comes from a survivor. Hope has cause and effect and the ability to think abstractly. She frequently chooses not to use them, but having them puts her so far ahead of most of our kids.

Part of me regrets adopting Hope. I am too old, Hope’s needs are so different from GB’s, it never stops. This part of me is real. There is another part of me that knows God meant Hope to be ours. God believes The Dad and I are the people Hope needs to heal. I have found that arguing with God is usually a waste of energy and time. I would rather put that energy into Hope. Hope can heal. I can help.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good: It was school pictures yesterday and Hope held it together.

The Bad: As soon as I took her homework out of the book bag, the Hope I know so well was with me. Arms crossed, face set in a glare, and the traditional “You are being mean to me”.

We took GB to her gymnastics class. GB had an outstanding 90 minute class. It was non-stop movement. Hope got no homework done. Afterwards, we met friends at Fri*ndly for dinner.

The Good: The Dad was there so I didn’t have to deal with Hope’s rage by myself.

The Ugly: Hope refused to eat, screamed, yelled I was hitting her (I wasn’t) and that I never let her eat. I eventually figured out she was not going to stop (duh) and went to take Hope to the car. She immediately got physical. The Dad picked her up and carried her out. This particular Fri*ndly’s is in a large mall. As the Dad carried her out, the manager of the restaurant stopped me to see if a coloring book or a balloon would help. By the time I got away from him, The Dad was 40 feet ahead of me. Hope was trying to bite and punch him, all the while yelling that he was hurting her. They received a mixed response; some people said it was good to see a parent that could do the tough things; other people said that poor child. We made it to the car without the police being called on us. I stayed in the car with a kicking, screaming Hope, while the Dad went back to the restaurant. I played 8 games of Word Warp on the ipad while Hope screamed. When the Dad was finished and brought GB back to the car, he was still shaken.

This morning it is like nothing happened. Hope is at her dancing lessons and I think the Dad is going to take her to a birthday party this afternoon. I, personally, don’t plan on ever bringing her out in public again. The Papoose board is too heavy to carry around.

Hope’s Rages

Hope has not raged since I dragged the papoose board out. The next morning I told Hope I would not be restraining her any more. I told her if she tried to hurt herself or anyone else, I would just get the papoose board out and we would use it to keep everybody safe.

Hope has not had a good day since. Interestingly enough, she also hasn’t raged. She has been openly defiant, cries frequently, and yells and threatens on a regular basis. The “poor me”s are running rampant. She has not crossed the line to a rage. Obviously, she has more control than I thought.

Famous Last Words.

It is day four  of the Dad’s trip to Michigan. Hope isn’t doing a whole lot better today, but I am. So far, at least. Yesterday, her whiny cry hit me like nails on a blackboard. Today, I am ignoring it with little effort. We were going to go shopping for first day of school dresses today, but I chose not to. This started GB whining, but I am not responding to her whining either. I know school starting on Tuesday is contributing to the girls’ instability. The Dad comes home tomorrow night. Until then, I am trying to keep everything low key. Hope still needs to stay in line of sight and is very unhappy about the restriction. She has been forcing herself to cry for the last 45 minutes- but every couple of minutes, she forgets she is crying and has to start over again. She hasn’t hit me today, so I think today has to count as a better day.

Famous last words. As Hope was crying and I was typing, she asked to color. I told her when she was done crying, we would talk about it. She instantly started raging. For almost an hour, she attacked me. I am bruised, welted and bloody. I finally gave up trying to restrain her and got out the Papoose board. At the sight of it she stopped raging. Just like that. If I didn’t see it, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Maybe it was the blog jinx – before I even posted?