Friday, August 21, 2009

Ok, so everything has changed!

The summer has been great. No really, I mean it, I'm not kidding.

Toward the end of June, Blondie started trying. I'm not sure exactly what changed. It was right after she came back from church camp. Maybe it was that. Maybe something they said got through to her. Or maybe it was the time away and appreciating what she has at home. Or maybe it was the new techniques I've learned through counseling. Or maybe it was everything. Anyway, it has been great.

She has been interested in bonding with me, and has really been making an effort. It's amazing. She still has issues with lying and disobedience but on a smaller scale, and I'm usually able to talk her out of her stubborn stance on the lie much sooner than before.

School starts on Monday and I'm actually going to miss them. Both of them. It's a miracle! I was dreading the summer so much, but it has flown by and I've enjoyed it. I've prayed for a long time to feel like this about both girls and I'm thankful to finally be enjoying some of the fruits of my labor.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Good and Bad

Bubbles is improving. Blondie isn't.

Bubbles is developing a conscience. Blondie isn't.

Bubbles is obviously trying to bond with us and accept responsibility for her actions. Blondie isn't.

Blondie is in counseling. I'm worn out. Heartbroken. Disappointed. Ready to throw in the towel.

Can anyone recommend any books on RAD and ODD that have really helped? There are so many out there but I can't afford the time or money to read them all.

Are there any summer programs in Texas for these kinds of kids that won't break the bank?

I'm running dry.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Some Response

We went back to the therapist today. On the way, I asked Blondie if she had any homework. She said she had a 5 page packet and two worksheets to do. After we got home she did one page for five minutes and said she was finished. So I told her that she owed 40 more minutes and I would give her something to do. Then she told me that she worked on it while I was talking with the therapist. I told her that I could hear her playing with the legos while I was in there, so I knew she couldn't have done more than 5 minutes of homework during that time and she agreed. So I asked her if she was sure she didn't have any more homework, and suddenly she remembered something else she needed to do. Ha!

I guess she really doesn't want to do my busywork.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We Saw the Therapist Today

I took both my youngest girls to see the therapist today. I really liked her. She really understood everything I told her, and was able to sum up Blondie's issues pretty clearly just from listening to me, such as: she doesn't take responsibility for her actions, and she thinks of herself as a victim and everyone else as a perpetrator. She is stubborn and strong willed and has a quick comeback or argument in any given situation.

For Blondie's homework issues, she recommended an enforced homework time each night for 45 minutes. If she doesn't bring any home or there is no homework, I provide some for her. This way she can waste her time doing busy work for me, or she can actually benefit by doing the work she is supposed to do. She said this was the best way to get around the arguing and sabottage of my efforts to get her to do her work. I think it is a good idea and I'm willing to try it.

She is also going to try to get her to open up about her past, which she has never been willing to do before. I really hope she can get through to her. And I haven't had any hope for a while, so it feels nice. It was really nice to finally talk to someone who understood, and didn't judge me for my feelings. My friends mean well, but they just don't get it.

She was straightforward with her, and Blondie seemed to hate the whole thing at first. But then she relaxed a little bit toward the end. After we left I asked Blondie what she thought about her and she said she was nice and she liked her! That's funny, if you could have seen the death glare she was giving her during the appointment.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Some Good News

I contacted the therapist today, and we have an appointment for Thursday morning. I am very thankful. We need help immediately. We have one child that is possibly in danger from another child, and this could potentially cause one child to have to leave our home if the problem can't be corrected.

That would be a complete nightmare.

New, Unwelcome Problems

Things were rocking along pretty well. Not great, but not too bad. Now this.

I have left a message and sent an email to a therapist that was recommended to us a while back. I am hopeful we can get in right away. We are now in a somewhat unlivable situation.

I want to ask for help but I don't want to publicize the situation. Please pray for us.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Still Growing!

Blondie grew a little more than an inch over the last three months. She has grown so much more than I ever expected. I had originally heard from our family doctor that it was a lot of time, effort and discomfort only to achieve an inch or two. Ha! That was so wrong. She has grown about 10 inches so far. She is up to the 25th percentile for her age group. When we started, she was way below the zero percentile. It has definitely been worth the time, effort and discomfort! Her last bone age scan predicted she would be 5'6". That may be a little too optimistic, but I'll be happy just to get her into any normal range. I don't think she's getting teased over her height any more, and that is a very good thing.

On the spoon thing from my post below, I think I'm still just as frequently a fork as a spoon, but I'm trying.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Be The Spoon

I have talked to a couple of friends recently about my feelings about the girls. I've received some good advice. One said that I need to separate my love and affectionate feelings from my feelings about their behavior. I am definitely making that a goal. It isn't easy to do, but it is something I need to do. I want to have no emotional reaction to their behavior, just deal with it and move on. Another friend asked me what kind of mother I want to be. So I told her I want to be the mother I am to my older children. She pressed me and wanted to know exactly what kind of mother I wanted to be. So I said I wanted to be in-tune with my children, friendly, playful, helpful, loving and affectionate. We were sitting at a table having lunch and she had a fork and a spoon in front of her. She pointed to the spoon and said, "This is the mother you want to be," and she pointed to the fork and said, "This is the mother you have been with the girls." She said I need to be the spoon because that is who I want to be, because that is what makes me happy.

I thought that made a lot of sense. Be the spoon!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Organizing my thoughts and feelings

I did it again. I started really beating myself up about my feelings toward the girls. It's just so hard. It's like trying to have a relationship with a rock. Not only a rock, but the same rock that repeatedly gets thrown through your window and you have to go clean up the mess. But the rock smiles and acts friendly while it knows it will shatter your window again tonight and feels no remorse whatsoever.

I just don't feel affectionate toward them. I love them and I want them to have a happy life. But I don't want to spend time with them. I don't really like them. I hate that I feel that way. This isn't what I signed up for, but it is what I got.

They haven't changed. They aren't going to change. The sooner I accept that, the better off all of us will be. I can train them. I can teach them manners and how to act in public and to treat me with respect. I can make them clean their rooms and brush their teeth and wipe their bottoms. But only if I check. And check. And check. Nothing ever stays. I can't count on the fact that they have learned that this is important and then move on. No. If I stop checking, they stop doing it.

Lately, I have been adding a notice of consequences to each thing I give them to do, if I know it is something they might not want to do. "Please go brush your teeth and if you don't you will write 25 sentences." "Please don't scream and run around wild in the house while Daddy and I are on our walk, and you can have a piece of candy when we get back. If you do not behave, you will write 25 sentences."

It's just a lot of work. All. The. Time. It's so hard to find any time to fall in love with them.

But then. I started thinking. I've been trying all this time to be their mother. To be the same mother I have been to my birth children. And it just isn't happening. But then I thought. What if I didn't try to be their mother? What if I tried to be their legal guardian. What responsibilities would a legal guardian have to them? I would need to provide safe happy home while they grow up. I can do that. There are no demands on my emotions if I am just the legal guardian of two emotionally damaged kids that can't change. I brought them into my home to give them a second chance at life. They are getting it. Thinking of it this way is my attempt to let go of the guilt that is eating away at me.

My SIL, the therapist, told me that I have done as much with the girls as anyone could do. She said that feeling guilty isn't helping anything. I agree, but it's hard. I look at them and know that they have been dealt a bad hand. They were born into every kind of abuse and neglect, and likely drug and alcohol exposed in utero. Then they went to two foster homes before coming to mine. Now they have me. I want them to have a mother that adores them and has fun with them. But right now that isn't me. I just can't do it, no matter how much I want to. I am repulsed by their dishonesty. It is constant. It is part of who they are. I can never get to know them because everything is a lie. But then I know that they are just messed up children and it isn't their fault and I think I should be able to get past it. But I can't. And it breaks my heart.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Letter (Email) to the Teachers

I received a request from Mrs. Teacher for a conference, and I will set one up this week. I am assuming that this is because of Blondie's grades, since I haven’t had many complaints from you on her behavior. She seems to be slipping into her old habits from last year on her school work. She tells me that her work is complete when she brings home her assignment book. She does bring some of her work home, but she leaves at school the things she doesn’t want to do, and I don’t know about it until it is already a zero.

This year I have had a different strategy when I find out she hasn’t done her work. Last year I fought tooth and nail to get her to do her homework, and it wore both of us out. This year I have put the responsibility on her. When she avoids doing her work and it is obvious to me, I just remind her that she doesn’t have to do her work this year, she can always just repeat 5th grade and do it next year instead. This seems to motivate her more than anything I have come up with in the past. She suddenly decides that the work is important and she wants to do it. Then I tell her that it’s really okay and not to worry about it, and then she insists that she wants to do it.

You might want to try that when she doesn’t want to do her work in class, or doesn’t have some of her work turned in.

When she brought home her progress report, I asked her whether her grades were low because she didn’t understand the work or she just didn’t want to do it, and she told me that lots of times she doesn’t understand it. As I mentioned before, I requested last year in December to have her tested, but Mr. Principal did not act on it. He said that unless the extra tutoring didn’t work, they would not move forward with testing. If she is now failing, it is probably time to move forward with the testing for putting her into remedial classes. I really don’t know what else to do.

I will see you next week (after the 14th).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Storm Clouds?

I had a feeling that she could only hold up for so long. This week Blondie got a zero on her spelling homework, and the next day she had not done her science homework, so the teacher made her stay in from recess and complete it and she lost 10 points for it being late. Both teachers notified me by email or I wouldn't have known. I did not punish Blondie. I offered to help her with her homework any time it is needed, and reminded her that fifth grade will be repeated next year if she doesn't want to do her work.

We'll see what happens. I'm trying to keep my anxiety over it at a minimum. Nothing I did last year worked, which included threatening, punishing, a futile attempt at a reward system which had no effect, and worrying myself sick. I'm going to let the consequences fall where they fall. I can't control this situation.

My goal is to just be informative and supportive. The rest is up to her and the school. As much as possible I am not going to punish her for anything that happens at school. If they punished her, that is good enough for me. I will not intervene unless the school asks me to. And I will take deep cleansing breaths and try to relax and let it all go.

I can only provide the information to her, I can't force her to act on it. (Repeat to self several times a day).

Bubbles has withdrawn emotionally. It happened in May, after a discussion about her birth parents, and nothing I have said to her since has made any difference. On the other hand, I believe that Blondie may be beginning to bond with me. I never would have guessed when we brought them home that this would happen. Bubbles was the sweet, cuddly, eager to please one, and Blondie was whiny, annoying and generally unpleasant to be around. Everyone talked about how easy it was to love Bubbles and that it was so difficult to even like Blondie.

My emotions have been on a roller coaster ride over the last three years, and are finally becoming calmer in the past few weeks. In the begining, I began by trying very hard to bond with them. Then I became so discouraged by their behavior and lack of response to my instruction that I was more inclined to avoid them. Now I'm ready to just let things happen as they happen. If we bond, great, and if we don't, oh well, there's not much I can do about it. I have begun to feel some genuine affection for Blondie, against all odds. I never would have believed that I would like her more than Bubbles, but right now I definitely do. I can only hope that my relationships with both girls will grow over time. It has become much easier to like them since I quit trying to control them as much. Maybe my new attitude will be just what we all needed. Only time will tell.

Monday, September 08, 2008

My Umbrella Color is Pink

What Your Pink Umbrella Says About You

When faced with adversity, you respond with compassion.

Even if someone is making life difficult for you, you can't help but see things from their perspective.

You are emotionally in tune, and you are very sensitive to those around you.

You are able to give to those who need it most, even if they are difficult to deal with.

On a rainy day: you should offer to help someone who needs you

The Viruses Have Started

Bucky started feeling sick on Thursday: runny nose and sore throat. He made it through school on Friday and then was sick all weekend. Yesterday he said he was feeling better, but then last night he had a fever of 101. This morning Blondie woke up and told me that she had a runny nose and sore throat. She had no fever so I sent her to school.

Here is what is frustrating. I know that I should keep them at home so they don't spread the germs around. The problem is that if they miss too many days of school, the school reports you to the police and you pay a big fine. So I have to send them to school as much as possible to save up for the days that they are too sick to go. There are days I have sent Bucky to school and just made him stay for a couple of hours to get counted "there" for attendance and then gone to pick him up because he had already missed too many days. I've received the ugly notes from the school threatening to call the police because he had missed too much school. Like 8 days. It's crazy. Anyway, I'd be glad to let them all stay home when they are sick. I just can't. Then on the other hand you get ugly letters from the school saying to keep your kids home when they are sick. You just can't win.

I'm going to start my kids taking Cold Eeze daily or some kind of zinc supplement and try to keep them well.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Feeling Successful

I made dinner three days in a row this week, and I have enough leftovers for 7 more meals! I have started doing my cooking in the morning and it makes the afternoons so much less stressful.

So far the teachers aren't complaining. Blondie didn't do her spelling homework one night, and she had to use her one homework pass for the six weeks in order to turn it in late the next day. I found out that it was because she didn't understand it, but instead of asking for help she just didn't do it. That is very typical of her. Fortunately, she cared enough to take care of it the next day. Today at school she requested to go to the nurse because her side hurt. This is also typical behavior. She loves to go see the nurse.

Anyway, I explained to her this week that she will get her slushes and lunches with Mom for free this year, without having to earn them. I have decided to reward them with $1 per A on their report cards instead. I told Blondie that passing 5th grade is entirely up to her. She was shocked, but happy that she would be able to get slushes and lunches without having to earn them. I'm so sick and tired of punishing her all the time. I just want to have some fun with her. I think this will help me feel better towards her.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I haven't had any complaints from the teachers yet, and Blondie seems to be doing her homework so far. I've left it entirely up to her whether she wants to do her homework or not. I did, however, want to empower her teachers with some advice about how Blondie responds to correction. I sent them an email yesterday letting them know that if her consequences don't affect her immediate comfort, they are basically useless. I also let them know that she would sabotage any attempts to send home notes that informed me of bad behavior. I let them know that I was very interested in seeing Blondie succeed in 5th grade and that I was available any time they need help with her.

Blondie has four teachers this year (they rotate for each subject) and I got this response from one of them:

"Hey there!
Thank you for emailing us. Blondie has been a sweet girl so far. As of today, she’s been working pretty hard on her school work and working well within her group in my class. I have had to remind her about a few of the class procedures…but other than that, she’s great! Thank you for the tips. I check my emailing often at school, and I have it forwarded to my phone, so if you EVER have a question please don’t hesitate to email me. I usually respond within the hour."

I'm glad to get a good report back. However it is only the first week. She probably won't show her true colors for another week or so. I'm hoping that maturity has improved her behavior this year, but only time will tell. I was very encouraged by the teacher's response. I hope I hear back from the others as well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Feeling Better

I'm feeling a lot better today. Gawdess left an encouraging comment on my last post that helped a lot. It had never occurred to me that I might already be the mom they need for now. I'm hopeful that we will grow together into a closer relationship, and that relaxing and letting it happen will work better than guilt and worrying about it.

I love them but I don't like them. That's another thing someone helped me to realize yesterday. I kept thinking that I sort of love them, and that bothered me a lot. But that isn't true. I love them. I just don't like their behavior, and that drives me away.

I'm also trying to let them deal with the consequences of their actions, such as Blondie not doing her schoolwork and ergo failing 5th grade this year. I fought her all year last year with next to no results, other than my own extreme frustration. This year I am letting go. It is her choice if she does her work or not. She can do it or not do it, fail or not fail. She can behave in class if she wants to, or disobey and miss recess. My rewards and punishments from home have no effect on her when she is at school, so I may as well not do anything.

Last year I offered a slush on Friday to those who obeyed in class all week. This year, everybody gets a slush on Friday. Last year, I would bring them lunch every three weeks, dependent on their progress reports and report cards. This year I'm just going to have lunch with them every three weeks. If I wait for them, particularly Blondie, to earn the good things in life, she won't get any.

I'm going to attempt to take the advice that I got from my sister-in-law when we first brought the girls home. Work on the relationship, and then work on the discipline. I should have listened, because working on the discipline has been so hard that it obliterated our chances at a relationship.

Yesterday when they got home it went very well. Bubbles commented,"Somebody is happy today!" And I really wasn't being silly or anything, just talking and teasing with them a little bit as we went through their papers. I also gave them each a hug that I initiated and they responded to with gusto.

The article on inducement that Gawdess suggested was eye-opening. I pray that I will be able to keep it in mind as I go forward. If you haven't read it and you have adopted foster kids or plan to, you should read it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

School Starts Tomorrow

School starts tomorrow and that is a huge relief for me. I've survived the summer without killing anyone. I think that I have fallen into a mild depression. I feel that I need someone to talk to, but the problem is that no one understands. I don't have any friends or family who have ever adopted foster kids. My husband and FIL are about the only ones I can talk to that "get it". Talking with my friends just frustrates me, because they suggest all the things I have already tried, and they just don't understand how I can feel the way I do. I'm very hesitant to even express my feelings because everyone feels so sorry for the girls because of their prior circumstances.

I'm about 95% hopeless at this point that they will ever change. That gives me no will to try. I'm still going through the motions, and disciplining them and making them mind. I give them hugs when they ask for them. But I feel numb toward them 99% of the time.

I talked with Boaz about it this morning. He said that I expect too much of myself and I set the bar too high. He said that we need to feed and clothe the girls and keep them safe, and try to be nice to them, and that was a good enough goal for now. My goal is to be the Mom they need, complete with affection, praise and genuine heartfelt love. But I'm unable to provide those last three things. I force myselft to tolerate their presence and speak nicely to them. Then at other times I actually enjoy spending time with them. It's just few and far between.

I want it to be different, but I haven't yet figured out how to change how I feel inside. Is that even possible? I don't know. I do know that the guilt is overwhelming. I know exactly what I should do, and I want to, but when the time comes to act on it, then I don't want to. Does that make sense?

So at this point, I guess my goal is just to feed, clothe and be nice to them. I can't wait for some peace and quiet tomorrow. I'd love to just lay on the floor and cry all day, but I won't. I'll go to my yoga class and out to lunch with a friend, and I'll greet the kids when they get home and make dinner for everyone. And keep holding it all in.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Internal Struggles

Blondie hasn't improved, and now Bubbles is getting worse. She lied and disobeyed all weekend.

Yesterday Bubbles had a field trip at school. Blondie came home and told on Bubbles for something that happened at school. It wasn't that big of a deal, and the punishment would have been next to nothing, if it was true. Bubbles denied it. In the past, Blondie has been jealous of Bubbles when she gets to go have fun, and she has lied about her to get her in trouble. That's what I thought was happening. I kept my cool, and I told them that they would both have to go into time out until they wanted to tell the truth. They were probably in time out for about 1.5 hours (with me reminding them every 10 minutes that this would end as soon as they wanted to tell the truth, and they were in complete control of it, and could end it whenever they wanted), when I realized that there was a witness to the situation. Blondie had told me that Bubbles' friend was part of it, so I decided to call her for verification. Her friend told me that it did NOT happen. So there was my proof that Blondie was lying. BUT Blondie stubbornly insisted that it DID happen, and that was the wrong girl, it was another girl. Bubbles said the second girl wasn't even there, and had gone home right after the field trip. So I called the first girl's mom again, (embarrassing!) and found out that the second girl WAS there during the situation. So then Bubbles said that the second girl was there for a little while but then left early. So I had to call the second girl. The second girl verified EVERYTHING that Blondie had told me.

I really felt horrible. I was in shock. Bubbles has never done this before. In every situation up until this, Bubbles was telling the truth. In my heart I just knew who was actually lying, but since I couldn't prove it I was just letting both of them sit in time out. I hate punishing an innocent person, but if they were honest all the time, we'd have trust and I'd know who was lying. Anyway, I sincerely apologized to Blondie, because I had been accusing her of lying the whole time, but also telling Bubbles that since she had been lying all weekend I couldn't be sure it wasn't her.

My heart is just broken right now. I thought we were making headway with Bubbles. Now she's acting just like Blondie. I'm so worn down. This job is bigger than I am.

I want to learn to separate myself from their behavior. I want my behavior to not be dependent on theirs. I want to be able to be happy and at peace, no matter what they do, or how disappointing their behavior is. I want to be a mature adult, who sees the big picture when I deal with them. I want to love them unconditionally. I want to be that person, no matter how they turn out or what they do.

Instead, I celebrate when they leave for school, and I dread when they get home. I'm emotionally distant from them. I'm self-protecting from all the hurt and disappointment they cause me. I'm angry that love and logic doesn't work. I've spent two and a half years of my life pouring myself into them and they are still doing the same old things they did when they got here.

Is this how God sees us? He gave us a bible, and He is ready and willing to hear our prayers, and He has supplied us with everything we need to make the right decisions and live a good life. But instead we ignore Him and go off on our own, over and over again. But He doesn't lose hope and become emotionally distant. He doesn't dread my prayers or feel disgusted with my feeble attempts to read my bible. He's still there cheering me on, longing for me, no matter what. Why can't I be like that? I want to be.

I had no idea how hard this would be. I thought I was a better person than I am. I'm turning bitter toward them. How can this be? I guess you would have to spend two and a half years with them to know.

I called my FIL crying this morning, disappointed in myself and in them. He told me that he thought God sent the girls to me because anyone else would have given up on them and that I won't. Lately I've just been wanting them gone. Of course I won't act on those feelings, but it's like that dream of what you would do if you won a million dollars.

If I could go back and undo this adoption, I would, in a heartbeat. So fast it would make your head spin. Or maybe I wouldn't. Because somewhere, deep down, I love them and I still have hope. I'd be willing to try it for a little while longer. It's funny, as I let my mind try that on, suddenly I started backing up. I don't want them to go! I just want them to try. That's all. And I want to be the mom they need. I just wish I knew how.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More Choices

I'm working hard to come up with ways to give her more choices. This morning I asked her what fruit she wanted in her lunch and what kind of jelly she wanted on her sandwich. I don't know if it will help, but I do want to empower her in any way I can.

I forgot about this one: I've been fighting her all year trying to get her to do her schoolwork. I even went up and sat in her classroom one day. All to no avail. She was still throwing away her papers as late as last week. So I gave up. I told her that she doesn't have to do anymore homework, I don't care, as she obviously doesn't care as she has shown over and over and over all year long. Anyway she was pretty shocked by that announcement. I told her that if she wants to fail fourth grade that badly, I would no longer stand in her way. Have at it.

She's been doing her homework ever since. It's kind of funny actually. She brings me her folder, and as I pull the papers out I ask her, "Would you like to do this or throw it away?" and she always says she wants to do it. Of course, that doesn't mean she isn't still throwing some away at school. But I've put the decision in her hands. I want to protect her from herself, but it's more work than I can handle. Some things are just going to have to slide if I'm going to get through this with my sanity.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Lying

Lying about food. Again.

This time she brought her lunch to school, but she decided to use her lunch ticket instead. She lied to her teacher and told her she had my permission. Her lunch ticket only has a few dollars on it, and it is for emergencies in case she forgets her lunch and I'm across town somewhere and can't bring it to her.

So I took the money out of her allowance and made her pay for it. She also had oatmeal for supper and went to bed early for her disobedience.

Last Friday she snuck her headphones to school, after asking me if she could take something to school. I told her no, because that is a privilege they get on Fridays if they have behaved at school all week, and she hadn't.

She is very rebellious, but she hides it. She cooperates to our faces, but then does whatever she wants behind our backs. I really don't know how to handle this. I want to give her more control, but she makes poor choices, and I think that is poor parenting. If a child isn't old enough or responsible enough to make safe, healthy choices for themselves then they don't need to be in charge of their own care.

It's so hard to deal with a kid that just doesn't care. She just DOESN'T CARE. I can reward and punish until hell freezes over, but I can't make her care.

We told her that from now on, if she directly disobeys us (breaking an established rule), vs. just being impulsive (like talking out of turn in class) she will lose something out of her room. She will also have to wear plain white t-shirts and jeans for a week, instead of getting to pick out her own clothes from the array of new things I bought her in the past couple of weeks.

It's easy to want to just give up and quit trying. Nothing I've done has gotten through to her yet, and I have no reason to believe that it will. I have to remember that she is in God's hands, not mine. It's so hard to wait for him to heal the broken places inside her.

I'm angry that she is messed up inside from what was done to her, and she is left to deal with the fallout. It's not her fault that she was neglected and abused as a child. I know that developmentally she didn't receive the right input at the right times. But why should she have to suffer for it for the rest of her life?

I'm just rambling and upset. I wish, wish, wish that I could help this child, help her understand that I love her and care about her and that I am her greatest resource here on this earth, as mother, friend, mentor, teacher. But she pays more attention to the leaves blowing by on the sidewalk than any of my counsel. It hurts that I can't reach her.

I feel such a crazy mix of compassion, understanding, pain and anger. I was so naive when I signed up for this.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Cheese Pizza and Cheezits

Blondie is allergic to dairy products. When she first came to live with me, her nose was so stopped up that she sounded like Darth Vader all the time, particularly when she was sleeping. The doctor had us do saline flushes five time a day. We finally got her nose cleared up and got her off dairy products and her breathing has been fine since then. Once she cheated and ate ice cream and got an ear infection, but that was about a year ago.

Anyway, Bubbles came home yesterday and told me that she had seen Blondie in the bathroom before school, eating pizza and cheezits. Both kids eat breakfast before going to school every day, and they bring their lunch with them. So it isn't like she is going to school hungry. This all goes back to her food issues. But she has a nice friend who we'll call Sweetie. One day when I took Sonic to Blondie for lunch, Sweetie sat with us and told me that I should send Blondie more food. Blondie was embarrassed and gave me a tiny headshake no. I said to Sweetie, "I think Blondie just likes to eat other peoples' food." I had been sending extra food with Blondie for a while, but she told me to stop because it was too much. Evidently it's because she's eating Sweetie's food!

Anyway, she denied and denied and denied that she had eaten the food, and accused Bubbles of lying about her. Due to every past encounter like this, I was pretty sure that Bubbles was telling the truth, but Blondie can be very convincing even when lying through her teeth, so I went back to Bubbles a couple of times and questioned her. I told Blondie that I really needed her to tell me the truth and that if she didn't tell me, I wouldn't let her go on the field trip in two weeks. She continued to deny. So I called the school and got her friend's number. She was adamant that I call her friend to verify her story. So was Bubbles. So frustrated at this point, but holding my temper. I talked to Blondie alone one more time, and explained that by calling her friend, we could very well get her in trouble with her mother for using her meal ticket to buy food for Blondie, and that Sweetie might not appreciate that and continue to want to be friends. She still insisted that I call her. So I did. But I didn't get an answer and I left a message for her mom to call me back.

THEN. THEN! I asked Blondie how I knew that she hadn't already told her friend to lie for her. And she said, "I didn't ask her to lie. I forgot all about it. When we were coming down the driveway just now I was really happy because I had forgotten all about it." Oops!

So I said, "You just told me the truth. Do you realize that?" And her face fell and she realized that she had let the cat out of the bag. So she lost her chance to go on the field trip. And she gets to do Bubbles' chores for the next two weeks in addition to her own for accusing her of lying.

I called the VP at her school this morning, and she talked to Sweetie about the situation. Sweetie said that Blondie has been telling her that she doesn't get breakfast in the mornings, and Sweetie thinks I don't send enough food for Blondie. The VP explained that it wasn't safe for Blondie to be eating food in bathroom because she could choke and no one would know, and besides it's just gross! She also mentioned that Blondie might have allergies she didn't know about, and that she needed to let Blondie's mother determine what Blondie eats.

Oh, and she lied to me on Monday and told me that she forgot to bring home her folder with her behavior chart. Then when she brought it home yesterday, she had scribbled out what the teacher wrote in it.

She had really been doing better the past two weeks. I guess she just couldn't keep it up.

Friday, April 25, 2008

She Might Pass

I talked with Blondie's principal again yesterday. Her grades have been borderline all year, but the only subject she is truly in danger of failing is social studies. He said that they look at the core classes and that they wouldn't hold her back just for social studies. There are also state tests that need to be passed but he said they have some power in the decision making process there too. He said that he talked to her teacher yesterday, and her teacher felt that she would be able to go on to the fifth grade if she will just slow down and try a little harder before just putting down any answer.

So that is good news. I requested to have her tested for additional services, but he said that they have to try doing tutoring before the state will allow them to spend the money. So far she is still scraping by. If they try to fail her without doing the testing, I'm going to be upset. If she passes then we'll have more time to deal with it next year if she can't keep up.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Time to Think

I've spent a lot of time thinking, and I've realized some ways that I can improve my parenting of Bubbles and Blondie.

1) I need to stop looking at everything they do through a negative filter. It didn't start out that way. I was on the right track when we started. I had high hopes for them and just knew that we would all bond into a loving family over time. Instead, we began to deteriorate over time. As we were disappointed over and over and over, and nothing I said or did seemed to make a difference, I started to give up. I grew angry and distant. I was civil but not especially nice. I just knew that everything they did was manipulative and fake. In fact, it probably is, but that isn't my point. When they do something nice, that they should do, I need to praise them for it, even when I know it is fake and they have ulterior motives. How will they want to do the right thing for the right reasons, if I don't respond as if they did? Does that make sense? If I praise and reward them for doing the right things, hopefully they will eventually do them for the right reasons. Either way, I need to release all the negative feelings that have built up inside me toward them.

2) I need to see their failures principally as they affect them, instead of how they offend me. I'm really working on that one. In the beginning, I was trying to enforce my power over them, and was highly offended that they would dare to disobey or lie to me. Now I'm just trying to look at how those behaviors will affect their lives. I'm also working harder than ever to make the punishment related to the crime.

Some examples:
On Saturday, we went as a family to the wildlife park and my parents came too. Blondie was sitting next to me in the van, and turned to tell me something and her breath was so bad I nearly passed out! I asked her if she brushed her teeth, and she lied and said she did. I asked to see her teeth and they were gummy and yellow. Ew. I asked if she used toothpaste and she said no. I'm sure she didn't brush them at all. So I asked Bubbles if she had brushed her teeth and she said no. I had specifically reminded both of them to brush their teeth before we left. I asked her why she didn't and she said she just didn't feel like it. So I told them both that we would be stopping at the next grocery store and they would have to buy a toothbrush and toothpaste with their own money and brush their teeth at the wildlife park. They were not allowed to talk until they brushed their teeth due to their bad breath. I also made them brush their teeth with baking soda the next three times after we got home to help them appreciate the nice tasting toothpaste I provide for them.

Today, Bubbles came home with a note that she was cheating at school. I took her into my room to talk to her alone about it. I didn't even feel angry. Normally I would have yelled and punished her. I asked her about what happened and she said that one of her friends was struggling on the practice test, so she offered to let her cheat off her paper. They were both caught and got in trouble. I explained to Bubbles that she isn't helping her friend in the long run if she does this. I also explained to her that letting people use you isn't the best way to make friends. I encouraged her that she is a sweet fun girl and doesn't need to bribe people to be friends with her. Then I gave her a bowl of oatmeal and sent her to bed early while the rest of us had nacho night.

I'm still in there trying.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Keeping Her In

I'm considering a door alarm and a video monitor. Does anyone use these, and could you recommend one?

Ready to Give Up

I quit.

That's what I really want to do. SIGH

I'm realizing that a big part of the problem is ME. I have control issues.


I can't control her. I need to learn to look at things as they happen, and not as to how I think that behavior will manifest itself in the future. I'm blowing things out of proportion in my mind, and then reacting to those things instead of what actually happened. I need to get a grip.

The last couple of years have been the hardest of my life. I had no idea what I was getting into when I adopted these girls. And compared to a lot of stories I've read on others' blogs, my girls are EASY. Except they aren't teens yet, and that is what scares me. I wonder about the horrors yet to come. Relax, get a grip.

I just want to cry. I've tried so HARD. But all I've done is upset myself. It doesn't change their behavior if I'm nice, mean, attentive, indifferent, happy, angry, advising or holding my tongue. Actually, that's not true. Bubbles is a success story for the most part. So I'm not all bad. And everyone tells me how much the girls have changed since we got them, and how good they are doing now.

But I feel defeated. Ready to throw in the towel. Boaz says I need to focus on changing me because I can't change Blondie. I have to learn how to stay calm and rational in the face of fear and shock. Of course it's my own fault that I was afraid and shocked I guess.

Last night after Blondie and Bubbles had been upstairs in bed for nearly an hour, Babygirl thought of something she needed in her room and ran upstairs to get it. When she got there, she found Blondie huddled in a corner hiding in her room. Blondie stood up, said "Hi Babygirl" and then ran past her out of the room.

So Babygirl told Blondie to come downstairs with her and told me what happened.

It scared me. I was freaked out. I shouldn't have reacted that way. But images of her sneaking into Babygirl's room with evil intent in the middle of the night was going through my head. Having an uncontrollable child wandering through the house at night is unacceptable to me. I did ask her what she was doing in there, and she said she was listening to us downstairs. We weren't talking about anything, really. Babygirl was on the family computer and Bucky and I were playing a game together on the laptop. There wasn't anything to hear. But I had made her close her door and I guess she didn't like that and wanted to listen to us. Or maybe she was lying to me. I really don't know. I do know that she can't be sneaking into Babygirl's room.

I yelled a lot. I said a couple of curse words. I'm really ashamed of my behavior. I wish I could rewind a few years and change this mess. I wish I could rewind about 12 hours.

I need to learn to deal with problems better. Only usually, I'm a calm person. It's just that the stress of the past few years has really gotten to me.

Think long and hard before you adopt kids from foster care. Make sure that you don't have any underlying anger or control issues. You will be challenged to your wit's end. Be sure you can handle it. I'm having a hard time.