Friends of ours have finally received their referral after 39 long months of waiting. Click here to see their new daughter’s darling face. Such kissable looking cheeks!
Monthly Archives: May 2009
Is Mother’s Day at your home the stuff Hallmark commercials are made of? Do your children spontaneously burst into song as they hand you gifts they have lovingly worked on for months? Mother’s Day at my home is more like a scene from Animal House or National Lampoon’s vacation.
My day started off with a bang as my two youngest came to crawl in my bed at 6 a.m. I was exhausted as Alyssa had been up until one a.m. tossing her cookies and I had been up with her, rubbing her back and making the clucking sounds that every good Mother Hen should make when you have a child who is sick. Jeff had already risen, so his entire side of our kingsized bed was vacant. Doesn’t matter. They both prefer to wedge themselves between me and my edge of the bed. I wasn’t buying it this morning. After all, this was MOTHER’S DAY! I cracked one eyelid open long enough to look at them and say, “Don’t even think about it!” They reluctantly moved over to Jeff’s side of the bed and fell back asleep.
During church, V. decided it would be far more fun to scream during the service than quietly draw or look at books. So, I spent most of the meeting out in the foyer holding a very unhappy child on my lap because I don’t reward screaming kids by allowing them to run in the halls. I went back in and sat down briefly in the back while the Primary children sang. I WILL give them credit that it was a great song about families rather than the gaggingly sweet “Mother dear I love you so, your happy smiling face,…” that they usually sing. However, Micheline, who is being tested this week for central auditory processing disorder didn’t know most of the words. She stood in the front row of kids who were singing, and periodically grinned my direction. Every once in awhile she would mouth a word or two, but then returned to her grins.
After church, my youngest 3 ran up to me each bearing a carnation and shouted “Happy Mother’s Day!” A little suspect, since the gift to the mothers for our congregation was an instrumental CD of American Hymns.
I immediately noticed women from the congregation after ours carrying long stemmed carnations and realized that my newest Mother’s Day offerings from my children were stolen goods. I told them to put them back. The kids disappeared, but when it was time to go, they had not returned. I found them instead in that congregation’s clerk’s office trying to pilfer a few more out of some five gallon buckets. Come to think of it, maybe a more accurate description of my family would be the pickpocket scenes from Oliver!
After shooing them out the door to their father, Caleb announced that he had lost his scriptures. Unfortunately, he had most likely left them in a room that was now holding a Sunday School class for adults. Jeff was already in the car with the other kids, and since we had two vehicles at church, I told him to go tell Dad not to wait for him, but to come back in and I would help him find them. Instead, he somehow misunderstood and took off with Dad, telling him that I said for them all to go home. After circling the building 3 times looking for him, I finally realized he was gone. I was unsuccessful in my search, but 10 minutes after arriving home, the missionaries called to tell me that they had found them under a chair in a room so I told Caleb he had to put his church clothes back on to go back to the building to get them. After all, I am a big believer in natural consequences. I didn’t lose the scriptures, he did, so what better natural consequence was there? Well, according to him and his mutterings, there were quite a few consequences he would have rather chosen. Off he went back to the church with Dad, but my chances for his vote for Mother of the Year were dwindling rapidly.
After a quick lunch I tried to nap, but V. decided that screaming in church was so much fun, that she might as well continue to do it at home any time anyone even looked at her. I was anxiously awaiting my call from our missionary son who is currently in Waco, Texas, so I couldn’t really rest anyway. They can only call home on Mother’s Day and Christmas, so I was looking forward to hearing his voice. He called close to 6 p.m. and it was one of the highlights of the day. He was sounding great and said he is being transferred next week to Arlington where he will continue to be a zone leader.
Caleb then decided that perhaps he should make a card. After all, Ben had made one and he had also made one from V. to me. Micheline had some gifts she had made at school that she was anxious to give me, so Caleb didn’t want to feel left out, but I don’t think his heart was in it. After all, he was still grousing about me sending him back to the church to retrieve his scriptures. He has asked me before why his birth mother in China didn’t want him, and he has been more than grumpy the past few years on Mother’s Day, so I think this day brings issues to the forefront that he would rather not deal with. After asking Jeff to sign it and wanting the rest of the family to sign it as well, Jeff told him no, and explained that it should probably just be from him since he had made it. Obviously Caleb didn’t think so and got mad and tore it up and threw it in the garbage.
Micheline gave me her gifts from school: a beautiful photo and a darling clay wallhanging of her self. She also handed me a not easily identifiable pile of a few chocolate covered pretzels. A few weeks ago, when she made the gift at her Achievement Day at church, she had quite a bag full of chocolate covered pretzels, but the temptation for her while hiding them in her room for two weeks waiting for Mother’s Day to arrive was too great and I humorously watched the pile dwindle in size each time I put clean clothes away in her top drawer.
After dinner in which V. spent the last 10 minutes under the table screaming, we started kids in the direction of bed. Problem was, Ben decided he needed to now make me a card on the computer in addition to the one he had already made, and was not going to be dissuaded. After Jeff read to Micheline, she headed for bed, only for us to hear V. –who we thought was asleep-screaming again. Upon questioning, Micheline innocently said, “I was climbing into the top bunk and just yanked her sheet off of her before I got into bed”, with a look that said, “What could I possibly have done wrong?”
Ben is always wide awake at night and his meds had not kicked in yet, so while I texted Nicole about my day, he decided to lie down next to me on the sofa and self stim by rubbing his cheeks on my legs. I hadn’t shaved them since Friday evening, and Mr. Sensory Seeker loved the feel of stubble from my shins on his face. I finally convinced him that going to bed would be in his best interest, and off he went.
It’s now 11:30 p.m. and another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Can’t say that I’m sad that it only comes around once a year, but each year I think I gain a bit more perspective. Yes, kids can be a pain. A royal pain. And yet, isn’t that what Mother’s day is about? Mothering? Today I rocked a screamer, held a child whose feelings were hurt, gave another backrubs, read to another, and yes, even got angry more than a time or two. There will be no Mother of the Year awards in this house, and I can promise you that none of my children will ever call me “My Angel Mother.”
But would I run into traffic to save one of my kids? Of course. Go back into a burning building to find one? Absolutely. They each have their quirks that can drive me crazy, but I’m glad that they are mine. Actually, they are His. They are only on loan from above, and I am thankful to a Heavenly Father who in spite of my glaring ineptness, trusts me enough to attempt to raise a few of His children. He knows them better than I do, and on days like today when I just can’t figure out why V. needs to scream so much, or why Micheline needs to torment her, or a million other why’s, I have to turn it over to Him. At a time when many of my friends are starting to have empty nests, I have a 3 year old who wrote on the walls today with crayon.
Lynn sent me a hilarious card with a sweet message, and Nicole came by with a sweet card she had made and a gift certificate for a massage. Believe me, after the day I had today, I will be scheduling it soon.
In our state high schoolers have to pass the AIMS test to graduate. They start taking it as freshmen and have 4 years to pass it. Some whine about how it is not a fair test in showing what students really know, but so far none of my first four children have had any trouble passing it.
The average score on the reading portion is around 600. Alyssa just scored 900 on it, one of only 3 students in the whole school who scored that high. Needless to say, she scored in the “exceeds expectations” range. Way to go Alyssa!
As many of you already know, Ben has bipolar disorder on top of his ADHD. We can medicate him for the bipolar, but any medication we have tried for ADHD has made him very irritable, angry and manic, so we have learned to do our best and live with the ADHD as a child who can’t focus is better than a child who puts fists through bedroom doors.
I’ve been asked recently by a few of you how the neurological reorganization has been going. We have seen some progress, but not the miraculous changes that others have seen or what we hoped to see. For those who have asked me about NR work, I still believe in it, but also believe it has its limits. For us it hasn’t been the “be all end all” that others have claimed it to be. Maybe we haven’t been dedicated enough to do the entire program each day but for those who have done it, you know how exhausting it can be. One mom on an NR group that I am in, put my feelings into words one day when she said, “I hate NR. I hate it more than my kids hate it. It consumes my life, it makes me fight with my kids, and it is just downright exhausting!” It is indeed exhausting because it is hard work and most kids resist doing the tummy crawling, creeping on hands and knees, etc, that is required day in and day out in order to see progress. For a mom with a resistant child, it is emotionally exhausting to say, “No, you can’t: watch TV, play outside, play videogames, ride your bike, etc., until your exercises are done”, knowing full well your child is going to “lose it” that he has to do those dreaded exercises yet again. Surprisingly, however, Ben has actually been more compliant with his program than Micheline has been. He is the one with more issues, and yet he is the one who will do the work required; he will do it complaining every step of the way, but he usually gets the job done.
Micheline, on the other hand seems to always manage to find a way to slip out of the room to the bathroom, or escape outside while I am watching Ben do his patterns. Other times she pretends to not know what is required of her. The two of them do not do well both creeping or crawling at the same time, nor is it good to have them both doing patterns at the same time, so we usually have one crawling while the other does patterns. I’m not quite sure how Micheline manages to get out of doing exercises, but it seems I turn my back for a mere second and she has disappeared, or she does her best to whine and outlast me until I have to go make dinner or some other task that gets her out of my line of sight.
Well, her behavior has deteriorated over the past few months. Impulses that used to be more readily controlled are not. Shrieking loudly for no reason at all, bumping into people again, and intentionally trying to hurt another child or the dog have all surfaced again recently. She will deny what she has done immediately, and “I’m not lying” are three of the most common words out of her mouth lately, even as it is evident when she is indeed telling an untruth.
As much as I would like to have faith in NR, I don’t believe in putting all my eggs in one basket. I hate medicating children and wish there were another way, but her behaviors have really gotten out of hand lately and even with using the best counseling techniques, she is more and more impulsive to the point where it is causing problems with social interaction at school.
I have recommitted to doing this program because I saw huge benefits when she first started. Retained birth reflexes were going away, she was more aware of where her body was in space, etc. However, I also know that we need some help right now, not in two years when the NR may or may not have done everything that practitioners claim it can do. I do believe that some of the regressions we have recently seen are a result of starting back with the program, and that I need to have the faith to continue. In the meantime, however, Micheline needs to function at school, which she has not been able to do when she can’t pay attention in the classroom.
Micheline used to be on Tenex, but it made her so exhausted and didn’t seem to be working as well as it used to. So, this month we tried Strattera, hoping to avoid any of the stimulant meds, but she seemed even worse on it. So, back to the dr. we went today, where I consented to try a stimulant medication.
Already having another child on antipyschotics, I just didn’t want to go the stimulant route with Micheline. I feel like I have done everything in my power to avoid it, however, from diet changes to NR, to audiovisual enhancement training, herbal remedies and counseling. Each has helped a bit, but the puzzle that is my daughter requires more than one piece to be complete, and I do feel that there are times that the medication component is necessary even though it may be hated and dreaded.
So, tonight I go to bed, wondering and worrying how she will be tmw after being given a stimulant. Will it help to control her impulses? Will it make her feel like she can finally focus on the task in front of her or will it merely give her stomach aches, and perhaps make her irritable as stimulants did to her brother?
I will say I’m very grateful for a pediatrician who doesn’t push meds. We have taken quite awhile to get to this step and tried so many other options along the way, that I feel that we are proceeding cautiously rather than rushing into this choice.
She also told me today that should the generic methylphenidate not work for us, that there are other options. I don’t even want to think about it. Anyone who has had children who build up “med fatigue” where meds seem to quit working, hates to hear the words “medication change.” When it comes to Ben, those two words rank right up there with similar two word phrases such as “firing squad” and “death wish”. Forrest Gump had it all wrong. It’s not life that is like a box of chocolates, but rather med changes that are like a box of chocolates because you truly don’t know what you will get when you start playing around with brain chemicals. Sometimes you find the perfect match and the med is a life saver. Other times, it is horrible, and you pray non-stop for 8+ hours as you wait for it to wear off.
I know there are some who might not agree with our decision, but with both kids, I never resorted to meds until I felt that we had exhausted all other options. Meanwhile, it’s back to the grind with more neuro work with Micheline. I have faith it can help. As Nina, one of the practitioners has said, we can do two years of he** or we can not do it and do many more. My vote is for two years.
Ok all, I’ll let ya know up front this is a whining post, so if you aren’t in the mood, don’t read much further. I have been feeling resentful the past few days. “Of who?” you might ask. Well, I have less than wonderful feelings toward our foster daughter’s mother.
Having adopted internationally for our last 3 children, we never had birthmothers in the picture. We probably couldn’t begin to find our children’s birthmothers even if they desperately wanted to meet them. I probably want to meet them more than some of my children do, but at least at this point in time, it just isn’t an option.
So, having to practice “shared parenting” is a totally new idea for me. It’s an idea that I stand by wholeheartedly in theory. After all, V. was taken from her home without anyone asking her if she was game to the idea. Of course she wasn’t, no matter how bad home life was (and trust me on this one, it was pretty bad!) She misses her parents and grieves for them at times which is totally understandable. I have done my best in trying to educate her mother on how important it is for V. to feel those connections with her bio family while she is in my home and have asked repeatedly for pictures. We finally got two last week which I posted in her room where she can see them. Meanwhile, I have sent her mother 32 pictures of her over the past two months in order to let her mom feel more a part of her life even though she can only see her daughter a couple of hours each week during a supervised visit.
Am I resentful of the photos issue? Nah, even though it irritates me that her mother claims she has hundreds of photos but could only come up with two, and her father isn’t in either photo. What I am resentful of is the fact that her mother doesn’t know how to parent and so she just tries to literally buy V’s love. If V. wants a balloon, Mom buys it. If she wanted a bottle full of kool-aid, she got it…hence, the bottle rot that cost almost $2,000 to fix her molars. V. came home from visitation near Easter time with so much loot she could hardly carry it all in the house. From stuffed animals to kites to candy, she had it all.
V. is happy here. For the most part, she doesn’t even come home sad from visitations anymore. It’s almost like she is thinking “Yeah, I miss my parents but I got to see them today and I’m happy living in this house.”
Since last week, however, the honeymoon seems to be over. I’m not sure what has triggered it, but she is trying behaviors with me that I have only seen her do with her biological mother; behaviors she never would have done two weeks ago. “No!” has become her favorite word and if she really wants to prove irritating, she says, “What??” to everything you tell her. She knows full well what she is doing because she does it with a smirk. A child who has been fully potty trained for two months is now going in her pants again and her preschool teachers tell me she is sassy mouthed and has “attitude.”
Part of this is actually a good sign. Without her feeling safe to act out and be sassy, she might never heal from some of her issues. She is also trying to regain some semblance of control in her life, which to her probably feels quite out of control. No one asked her if she preferred two hour visits on Wednesday afternoons where total strangers would pick her up in a van when the visit is over to remove her from her mother and bring her back here. I totally understand her need for control. I get it. I really do. However, having Mom on the same page when it comes to parenting would be quite beneficial.
Last week V. got out of the cart at the grocery store and literally ran as fast as her little legs would go over to grab a balloon that I did not intend to buy for her. I had to peel her fingers off of the string which caused her to scream all the way out of the store. Yes, I could have bought it, but did not want to reinforce inappropriate behaviors.
Having watched her interact with her mother, I know Mom would have bought the balloon the second V. let out a peep. As a matter of fact, V. has come back from visitation on 3 different occasions with balloons in hand. So, I am the “mean mother” and she is the mom who always comes bearing gifts. I’ve heard her Mother say, “but I didn’t want her to cry!” even when what she was crying for was totally inappropriate. We have one standard with her bio mom and another she is expected to live by the rest of the week. Heck, if I were her, I’d probably be pooping my pants by now as well just out of frustration!