Loving the hurt ones – it takes a city…

When you choose to adopt a child your first thought is not  “I am bringing a neglected and traumatized person into my home.” After all we adoptive parents are trying to make a family or add to a family. We are doing something good for the child and for us. The key word here is family. We want these kids to come in our lives and we want them to live happily ever after. We bring them home to be part of our unit and we don’t expect anything can go terribly wrong . We are told – or should have been- of all the risks of adopting these traumatized children. We read the articles on RAD( reactive attachment disorder) , ADHD , spectrum issues, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – on and on. Yet why would we ever think they would be part of our child that we lovingly bring home to our family? We didn’t. We rationalized that our child was coming home too young to have issues. Or we could fix them if they had anything come up.

Not all adopted kids end up with severe issues. We have three children who came to us through adoption. All three are very different but two are related by birth mother and were under five when they came home but they weren’t babies. Those two experienced more trauma and neglect than my first child who came to us as a baby. They have had trauma related issues as a result. Ozzy shows the most issues of the three. We cannot ignore the fact that adoption is traumatic. Things the child faces before we get them and then finding themselves in a strange new family -many never had one- and those who had one may miss the ones they had or may have suffered in the hands of that family- can you imagine how this effects a child?  Can you imagine being plopped down into a family- but to you they are strangers and you may not even speak their language?  We also can’t forget the neglect, the abandonment, the possible exposure to drugs and alcohol as a fetus – any of them can effect an adopted child. Sometimes adoptive parents find they have a child that never responds in love to them. The parent might have tried everything they know but the child cannot respond in kind- but the parents persist and try and love them anyway.  It can hurt – but its what we do.

I have written before that I wish I had been more prepared for mothering these kids when they came home. I had done fine with”L” our child we adopted at eight months, I had no reason to think I would have issues with the next two we adopted. I was in for a shock. I learned early on what trauma and neglect can bring and early on I also realized that we needed help. So we began seeing a therapist to help us navigate the journey of parenting broken children. We added a psychiatrist when Ozzy was only 5. It took me years to know I was doing the best I could. I felt inadequate and guilty for not clicking with Ozzy. I made mistakes along the way and still do but I know now that I didn’t make Ozzy have these problems he has now. His issues came with him and all we can do is try to help him and love him. It’s not always pretty but we try.

This has been one of the biggest challenges of my life- parenting this child. I sometimes feel that I can barely hang on. My husband and I become mentally exhausted trying to get him help- in school, in therapy, with the psychiatrists. Some days it is phone call after phone call topped by email after email. Then its dealing with the behaviors at home and knowing how to properly respond to each issue. We didn’t think we would be dealing with this. It is hard at some moments- but he is our child and even if we don’t like him sometimes- we definitely love him. Yes we do love him and want what we all want for our kids- for him to have a happy life, one where he can support himself ,have a family- have love. So we dig and fight trying to get that for him- sometimes we may want it more than he wants it for himself. Its what we do as parents- not for any pats on the back but for the ability for our kid to be able to have a life. Will he? I don’t know. I think so- he has huge gifts. I pray for him all the time.

I think that it’s important that people understand that many behavior modification tactics that work on bio kids don’t work for adopted kids. Our kids often have no cause and effect understanding, if they are detached they don’t have the need to please their parent. You can’t impose the same consequences or rewards on these kids. They just don’t respond to these things the way kids who are attached and who were properly nurtured since birth will respond. We know this because we have tried them many of them.

Parenting these kids can be exhausting. So many of us stay quiet about what’s happening inside our family. If it is shared or becomes apparent there can be issues. Friends and even extended family sometimes pull away out of fear for their own kids safety or bc they feel discomfort of watching the issues of the child and the reactions of the parents as they try to gain some control over the uncontrollable. Who would understand why a family would have all their kitchen cupboards locked and every bedroom is locked and the parents carry their kitchen knives and any other sharp instrument to work in their car in a Tupperware container, or that there is an in/house surveillance system installed to monitor the child’s movements at night to ensure the safety of the child and the safety of the rest of the family? Who would understand that theses parents know all the local cops by name and are called regularly? Who would understand when a child repeatedly threatens to kill himself and others, rages at their family members one minute and the next is acting like nothing happened? It’s scary and off putting and when you are on the outside its ever so easy to judge – so easy to pull away. Sadly when you are parenting the hurt child you can relate to all of these things when you hear about them. I know I can. We have not dealt with all the things I have mentioned but I can understand them all.

When you are on the outside its so easy to think you could fix this child and you might feel that clearly the family has no clue how to parent at all. It’s easy to play backseat parent. “if I was them I would do this or that…” And I don’t blame people who aren’t parenting these kids for thinking we are doing it all wrong – and on the outside it might look like that. But I think in order to better understand what these parents of the hurt and neglected and traumatized kids are dealing with it would be good to read a bit about it. I’ve posted some links below that might be of help to the ones on the outside. And if you are parenting one if these kids and feel at a loss or guilty or confused read them too. You will at least understand how some of these kids end up with huge issues.You will know you are not alone.

Sadly living with this in your family often isolates the family from others. It can pit grandparents and uncles and aunts against the traumatized family. Oh yes – I did say traumatized family- when you parent these traumatized kids the entire family unit becomes traumatized. Sometimes the hurt kids pull family apart by using their keen skills of manipulation. These families don’t need to be abandoned. The thing they need the most -love and understanding (and maybe a little respite care) – is usually the last thing that is offered to them.

I am thankful to have found a support group that has made me feel not so alone in the struggles we have with our son. I know for a fact I am not alone and for that I’m grateful. I’m thankful for my support group where I can talk about the issues in a safe and caring place. I’m thankful that I can get information from those that have been down the same road. Navigating the mental health system for adolescents is daunting. Understanding legal ramifications is also overwhelming. I’m glad I have a group whose hand I can hold. Many people don’t have this much.

Adoption begins out of a person(s) wanting to love another. Not one person that I know who has adopted ever thought they would be the person they are with their hurt kid. We see the worst of ourselves sometimes but I can tell you we also see the best. We are resilient and though some may think we are evil and mean bc we have to lock down our home or not let our kids have a phone or laptop -we are not evil – we do this bc we love. We love even when we are hated and hit and spit on. We love even if we have to let our child go to residential treatment, or even to another home. We get burnt out and mad and even hateful sometimes but we chose all this because of love. Sometimes it ends up just being too much for the parents and for the child. Sometimes it ends up ok. But we want you to understand a little more about what we deal with and how this happens and what the kids have to deal with in their hurt lives. We don’t want you to turn your backs or abandon us. If my kid had cancer you would rally around me because you understand that. So if you have a friend with an adopted child that is having a hard time- read some of the links I provided below. It might make a difference.

**Authors note- this is not an article to suggest that adoption is a bad thing. Adoption is a wonderful thing. This is how we chose to make our family and I believe God brought us together.. My family is wonderful. I love all my kids with all my heart. If asked, I would be honest about being very aware of issues that can come up with adoption. This is an article written to provide more understanding of the trauma that adopted children have and the issues that can occur. This is meant to help people who are not dealing with these challenging kids to understand where their issues stem from. it is written to help people come together not drive them apart. It takes a village to raise a child and in some cases it takes a city. If you know a family who is struggling be part of the city.

Thanks for reading…

Article by an adoptee:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2014/november/missing-voice-in-adoption-conversation.html?start=3

Articles about early childhood trauma:

http://www.socialworkhelper.com/2014/10/08/children-experience-early-childhood-trauma-just-get/

http://vsn.org/trauma.html

For All of us:

http://onthebeautifuljourney.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-ugly-side-of-adoption.html?m=1

http://onthebeautifuljourney.blogspot.com.br/2014/11/six-things-not-to-say-to-adoptive-parent.html

http://outofshemind.com/2015/01/dear-adoptive-parents-hard-lonely-road/

http://traumamamat.blogspot.com/

 

Getaway

Everyone needs a little time away sometimes. For my husband and I this was the time. We had spent months talking about it. We pondered what we would do. A night away in a hotel. A dinner. Sleeping in with no dogs to let out or horses to feed or kids to deal with. It sounded so fun. But could we do it?

We had been getting out on regular date nights. The kids -now all teens -can handle nights where we go out for a few hours and get home before the carriage turns back into a pumpkin. But we hadn’t been away from the kids for an entire night in over 13 years.

I had a lot of nerves about trying it. We have one special needs teen and I was hesitant to commit to a full night away. My fears of getting a call informing me of some disaster and I being too far away to get home in time to save the day were winning. So the dream became a pipe dream. One that we would talk about sometimes but basically had put it on the back burner. Until a week ago…

I was on Facebook and I saw a post about a band that I used to go see in my younger days. They were playing locally (40 mins away) at a dinner theater and just a few seats were left. Just for fun I looked up the venue -it was the old movie theater that I used to frequent it had been changed into a supper club and they hosted live acts. I loved that theater. So I went a step further and clicked on the ticket info. Next thing I knew I had purchased 4 seats at a table. Impulsive – yes- but maybe thats what it needed to be- a quick decision where no foreboding thoughts could win. The next thing i knew I was playing the bands music on YouTube. I decided to check out Hotels.com and just see what a room would cost. Pretty cheap it turns out.  So we decided to add a hotel room to the evening and BAM we had planned a night away. As it turns out this plan came together just in time for it to be my birthday present.

I was pretty excited but the day we were to leave I began to worry about everything – everything that could go wrong and leaving my teen kids alone for the night. We were only going 40 mins way. But still… I was nervous. I sat on the bench in our room and kind of froze. I would pack some then freeze a bit again. I’m sure other moms out there can relate. I was determined , though, to not let this worry wreck a much needed break. Turns out that as soon as we got out the door and a few miles down the road my worry began to leave and it was all about our night.

And it was a great night. There were laughs with friends, nice dinner, great music, and dancing. Sleeping in a king bed and no dogs to let out at six am- bliss. We had a few texts with the kids..mostly them asking if we were having fun. We had breakfast at a pancake house and we headed home. I could have used another night away but I was good with the one.

Our children didn’t meet us at the door to hug us on our return. The boys were still asleep. Teens! It was almost 11am!  My daughter had done all the morning barn chores on her own. That was very sweet. I think they missed us -but I bet the break did them good too. I’m thankful they got along ok because I know I’ll be ready to do it again in the near future. With three teens it doesn’t take long for me to need a break. They drive me nuts -but I love them to the moon and back. Am I ever thankful for small respites.

Thanks for reading…

http://www.thenighthawks.com/home.html

http://www.bethesdabluesjazz.com/

IMG_8162.JPG

The band – dance floor is up front.

IMG_8153.JPG

The room was small but perfect for us.

IMG_8158.JPG

Kevin and the stage behind him. Dinner was very good by the way.

 

A Cool Night

There we were- all 5 of us- sitting around the table on Saturday night at a favorite restaurant in our small town- all of us had been running all day. Kevin and I running kids around to their various activities. K worked, L had a band concert that we attended (which went over 2 hours) and Ozzy was volunteering at a robotics competition at our local community college.  We were run out to say the least and here we were together at that table and guess what? No electronics were present. This was not by request either. It was uncanny- and I struggled not to check my own phone while waiting for the food. My daughter was chatty, L was laughing and joking his face could be seen as it wasn’t bent to look into his phone(he is rather cute), Ozzy was tired from being at robotics all day but was in a good mood.

IMG_7994

My Hubby’s artwork- isn’t he sweet?

The table had a chalkboard and everyone was drawing on it. We were like an old time  family. You might remember- the kind before cell phones came to rule our lives. It was pretty cool.  We laughed and ate and laughed some more- nobody argued which is a big deal when you have three teen siblings sitting in the same place. I looked around at other tables. A group of tween girls sat close by…no phones in their hands either. They sat and laughed with each other.  I began to wonder if we were in an alter universe for just a short time. I was not going to say a thing at all because that would have broken the spell. I did not want to break the spell.

You see we needed that moment. Everyone needs those moments. With three teens who have various activities and one with special needs you can get exhausted and irritable. Inevitably once my kids come home their noses are in their homework, phones, or xbox, or in a book(Ozzy still goes phoneless) we become dis-connected. We need time to re-connect – and we really needed it that day.

IMG_7976

Friday Night Bingo

Maybe this nirvana began on Friday night when I asked if anyone wanted to play a game. Not a video game- a real board game. Ozzy is always up for a board game. God love him. I suggested Bingo. Ozzy ran to set it up. Up from his lair came L, and hubby was up for it too. There was a no show -my daughter K- but she was not feeling well so better to let her rest. (Don’t wake the beast – aka cranky 16 yr old girl). So began some rousing rounds of Bingo. Money was donated by hubby and winners took all. We decided we enjoyed that so much that we would play next time like they do at the fair -you pay 25 cents a card. I had a bag of coins from a wallet clean out so I was ready.

So maybe the magic carried into Saturday night as we sat around the restaurant table actually liking each other. When we left I was kind of bummed because I figured we would all (including me) go back to our electronics. But the magic continued – we decided to drive through a nearby neighborhood full of nice homes in search of pretty Christmas light displays. Surprisingly this hood didn’t have much in the way of fabulous displays as one might expect and of course this was reason for some good spirited jokes and laughter. We were all laughing..still. At some point L began discussing what a W.A.S.P. was – he had learned the term in history. His concept was so off that we were in hysterics trying to convince him that he had it wrong. You had to be there but I am sure you have had these moments too. They are special. They occur less and less with teens who are too busy, too egocentric, and are beginning to look for their own independence that it isn’t cool to hang with the folks.  I hadn’t planned for this to happen- this feeling of old time familyishness(made up word). It just happened. We all enjoyed being together..and the night did not even end when we pulled into our driveway..I thought it might. Someone mentioned Bingo – and I figured nobody would be up for it so I went into my room to change. A knock on the door brought Ozzy telling me that they were all waiting for me to begin Bingo (ALL!– including K). I was tired as heck but I wasn’t missing the game- I grabbed my baggie of change and headed out to continue the very cool night with my family… I wish these rare but special nights to you and yours. We parents know how something this simple can warm our hearts.

(and hubby and I were the big winners at Bingo! I am thinking game nights should be more common in our house – I like winning money!)

Thanks for reading….

 

 

 

Moments

My son Ozzy has his struggles as I have written about before and we are facing some new issues and are constantly trying to help him and get him help. Ozzy is a many things. I’m not sure I’ll ever figure him out. But one wonderful thing about him is the little kid in him. Don’t get me wrong I complain that he is immature and he is. Very. And that has not played well for him when making choices. But with this side there is a better side bc Ozzy isn’t afraid to like things a teen might feel is too uncool. He loves puzzles. He loves joke books. He still loves Legos. He loves Rubiks cubes. He embraces his inner nerd and loves Robotics. He’s in the robotics club at school and his first competition is this weekend. He is stoked. When we pick him up from club he talks non-stop.

Maybe it hasn’t occurred to Ozzy that some of this isn’t “cool” to other teens or maybe he doesn’t care. I hope he never loses this part of himself. His inner child. For all the issues he has he is very real when he is doing these things. Yes sometimes he gets mad at a puzzle and I worry he might annoy others in robotics bc he thinks he’s always right. But I am glad he holds onto these pleasures in life. He’s always the one to want to jump in and play a board game. And this year he is the only kid of mine that wanted to help decorate the house for Christmas.

When my mom was here last week for thanksgiving we got the tree out (our Walmart special) and decided we would decorate the tree. I was looking forward to this because my mom and I hadn’t decorated a tree together for many many years. We spent many years together when I was young decorating the tree and I still have some of the ornaments from way back then. My parents divorced so at some point in my early adulthood I was given all the ornaments from my kid years. Many have fallen apart but there are still some great ones and I looked forward to sharing these with my mom.

My two “cool” teens didn’t seem interested in helping us decorate but Ozzy was up for it. So my mom and I and Ozzy set out putting ornaments on our small tree. Ozzy would have discussed each one if he could and he spends much time digging way down into the too full bins to find forgotten ornaments. He would find maimed ones and want to adorn the tree with them. God love him. When we finished the tree we sat down to rest and I never got to the rest of the decorating in the house until yesterday. When I began to go through the boxes who jumped up and asked to help? Not the cool ones. I did get L to put out a few Santas. But it was Ozzy who wanted to really help. He began digging in the bins again and took so much joy in finding things.

I can only smile though. Such a troubled kid sometimes – who has this side of himself- is so endearing. If you just watched that scene yesterday you would never know he has issues. It’s that part of him that keeps me digging to get help for the other parts. You realize that people aren’t all one thing or another. We are like diamonds- multi-faceted. Flaws and beauty. I keep thinking that we can polish Ozzy’s flaws. We will keep trying -everyday- but even a flawed diamond has beauty and value. That’s when I realize that I’m finally learning to appreciate Ozzy for who he is now. I spent so much time focusing on the issues that I forgot about the shiny parts. Now I’m trying to focus on the shiny while still trying polish the flaws. It’s a journey I am just beginning to understand. God gave us this child for a reason and if anything maybe this journey of helping him is actually helping me to grow.

Thanks for Reading…

 

IMG_5133.JPG

IMG_5138.JPG

IMG_5149.JPG

IMG_5122.JPG

 

 

IMG_5143.JPG

IMG_7906.JPG

IMG_7907.JPG

IMG_7905.JPG

Where did my brain go?

IMG_7815.JPG

 

Look at the picture above. Does this seem like an excessive amount of Licorice Root to you? It does to me too! I have no idea how I got so much Licorice Root though apparently I ordered it. I did not intend on receiving this much LR.  Apparently I forgot on three occasions that I ordered this because that is how many packages arrived containing this stuff.

I got the first order and then a day later an order came with 3 more bottles in it. Then the next day another package arrived with another 2 bottles. It became a joke in the house. When a package arrives here now my kids are like “I bet it’s more Licorice Root!”- yea haha. I looked on Amazon bc they must have made this mistake(we order a lot from Amazon- it has everything)…nope..I ordered 4 bottles a mere 3 days apart. The other order came from another online seller completely. What the heck is wrong with my brain? Maybe I was having Licorice Root withdrawal.

I have no recollection of this – except ordering the LR one time. How do I not recall ordering the three bottles and ordered more? My brain is not working right! I don’t need that much Licorice Root. I am scaring myself!

This is not the first time I have done this. I did it with Omega 3 and I seem to be forgetting small things- a lot. Which is bad because when my teen says to me that I said this or that, or I said that they could have this or that how do I know if they are putting one over on me or if I really said it? And they are catching on too…which makes this even worse.

I take Licorice Root to help my adrenals which is supposed to help my brain indirectly – I think. I guess I need to read up on this. I take a large amount of pills in the morning all vitamins, herbs and minerals- you would think that I would be getting better brain power out of one of them. Apparently not. I guess I could blame this on  peri- Men- O- Pause…I could string that excuse out for years. Maybe my family won’t commit me. The reason this is happening is due to a combo of things I think – but good Lord I need to manage this somehow or we will run out of money and closet space. Pretty sure I cannot legally resell vitamins.

I guess from now on I am going to have to double check my Amazon orders and my email to police myself. How exhausting! I guess I should be glad that bigger ticket items haven’t shown up here in multiples. Though I kind of wish I would forget I have an Ipad …I could use a new one.

Who bought the Cumin? Nope -It was not me! Thanks for reading….

IMG_7816.JPG

Words Hurt

Today I was reminded of how much words can hurt. Especially when you are a young teen trying to find your place in the world. Our daughter “K” is in high school –  she was reading aloud in class and stumbled over some words(it was Macbeth- hello – I couldn’t even understand the Cliff notes back in the day). A peer said to her right in front of many of the kids in the class..”you can’t even read, you should go back to your own country.”   She was so upset she texted me about it.  This got mama and papa upset.

One of my hot buttons is racism. I know this was an immature kid saying a stupid thing but if it’s not racist to some – then at the least it is quite mean. This is not the first time K has had comments made to her. She is Asian and we live in rural America and our schools are not very diverse and sadly she has run into nasty people before. Today it stung a bit more because it was said in front of her class – she was embarrassed and according to her the teacher just said to the kid “that wasn’t nice”- really thats all you got?  I don’t want a huge deal made out of it but how about speaking to the kid after class – asking him to apologize? It is funny that the kids will get long lectures about bullying and racism in school yet teachers turn the other way if they see it happen- well some teachers anyway.

Do we (as in the country)really still have to deal with this stuff? Can’t we get past the the hate? Would this kids parents be okay that this comment was made by their child? Or worse, did he get the idea this was okay to say from his family? I feel like we (the country/the world)should be so far past this but we aren’t and we see it everyday all over this country. There is just so much hate spewed daily – shouldn’t we do something about it if we see it in our homes, businesses and classrooms?  It just boils my blood when my child is hurt by such unkind words.

Sadly, It won’t be the last time she hears these comments. I decided to give her some canned retorts to these bullies. She laughed at my suggestions–all were intended to emasculate the big mouths if said bully was a male. She won’t use them but it was fun thinking of them.  Ok it is immature, but I know you moms reading this understand how the claws can come out when someone messes with our kids. Seriously- I have so many things I want to say to him- all those retorts I didn’t have when I was in high school.

I took the high road though. I didn’t hunt him down to let him verbally have it. I contacted the teacher and asked her to speak to the student about it. I was clear in my disappointment that she did not handle it right away.  We will see what her response is.

My daughter and I spoke later about the incident and she said that this time it just got to her but she said that she usually deals with it and shrugs it off or uses her retort of “Oh – haha – you are saying that because I am Asian- now I get it….” but I can tell it stings. I was the fat kid – so I know about the words that hurt. I don’t want my daughter to feel less than because she is Asian, or a woman, or fat, or skinny. She is more than because of the her sweet soul and her care for others. She can do anything – or be anything if she sets her mind to it.  I don’t want some stupid kid with a big mouth making her or anyone else feel badly about themselves.

I know she will be ok but my mama heart is hurt for her.  I won’t stop hoping that kids (and adults) will stop this madness and realize we are all beautifully made and beautifully different and that should be celebrated. I will keep the nasty retorts in my head for now but you never know what a really mad mom might say if the circumstances are just so…it might not be my best moment but I would claim temporary insanity…

Thanks for reading…

Ps – I am quite happy to report that the teacher stepped up in a big way. The child apologized in writing and he had to do go tonthe office. She also spoke to the entire class about these types of comments. K has forgiven her peer. I hope she and her classmates learned something from this. I’m so glad the teacher effectively handled this and she reached out to me as well. I appreciated that.

Dear teacher….

Dear Freshman Seminar Teacher –

I am writing to you with an issue I am having with a particular lesson you have introduced in your course. Though I very much like the idea of your course – to help Freshman get the skills they need in order to be prepared and plan for their next 4 years of school – and beyond -hopefully, I am not happy with one particular example you used while teaching the topic of communication. Specifically, when the students were given the list of examples on poor communication one example discussed was “Probing Conversation”. I did not like the example portion of this topic at all- and I am asking that you fix it. For the sake of future teen communication it needs to be fixed.

Imagine how excited I was as a mom when my son came into my room with a sheet of paper in hand and asked me to read it. I thought we are having a bonding moment. He wanted to share something special he learned in his Freshman Seminar class. I began reading – the topic was on poor communication skills- there were a few types listed with appropriate examples.  As I read further I came across the one titled “Probing Communication”. A probing conversation is when a person asks many questions to drag (or as I would say guide) an answer from someone. It is considered to be intrusive when used in the wrong way and influential when used correctly. This example did not go into this fact. It explained that probing is bad communication and listed types of probing questions and then noted as an example of who may use this type of bad communication as parents! What? You are teaching my child that I shouldn’t be probing? Hello? Did anyone who wrote this lesson even have children..better yet teens? We would not ever speak to our kids if we parents did not probe!

I asked my son “Do you think I probe?”

Him:”Sometimes.”

Me: “You don’t think I should ask you questions?” I mean he showed this lesson to me for a reason…

Him: “Well you can ask questions – just not so many.”

Me: “You don’t think I need to know answers to questions like ‘where are you going’ or ‘what time will you be home?’ or “who are you going to be with?’ ?”

Him: “Well you do but I can tell you that.”

Me:”So you will tell me all this information before I would have to ask you?”

Him: “Yes”

Me:”Hmm – yea well see about that.”

Fast forward a few weeks and I am trying to get info on whats up for homecoming – we are on like the third conversation and i have little information on the plans…Son: “Um mom you’re probing”

Me trying not to let steam come out of my head…calmly I say ..”What?- I need to know this information. I am the parent you are the child.”

Him: “I am meeting some friends at the dance.”

Me:”Do they have names?”

Him: “Yes”

OK so is my question limit over now?…I know the kids have names…great. Oh my Gosh- do you see what the drill has to be as a parent? My rules are that I need to know – WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW about an activity – and this the minimum. I may need more info depending on the activity. And your probing lesson is being used against me! These are probing questions- I have to probe – he is a young teen prone to make huge blunders and we are parents trying to minimize the blunders and their impact on the kids life. We cannot stop the blunders but we can try – and without probing questions we leave a lot of stuff we need to know out of the convo!

So now not only do I bug the crap out of my kids when I ask them these questions they have been given the definition of the tactic and have been told it is a poor way to communicate – and they call me out on it! Seriously take that example out of the book – or rewrite it! No just forget the entire lesson because i can tell you that ammo you gave them on probing is the only lesson they absorbed because I don’t see them practicing better communication on their end. Maybe stick to resume writing, homework organization, and schedule planning.

I am all for not being too intrusive and as a mom we sometimes can try to get too into our kids business – we forget they deserve some privacy. But if they want to leave my home and convene with friends I need to know some information and I am going to ask questions and set limits if I don’t get the answers. Please teachers don’t make it harder than it already is!

Thank you for what you do – but maybe leave the lessons on communication to the speech teachers.

Do you think you can do this? How do you feel about it? Are you angry? Where were you when you read this? Do you have to run it by administration? Other teachers? How long will it take for you to get a response on this? How long will it take for you to get back to me on this? Who do you have to talk to to get this rectified? What is the process? Where will it take place?

I got more- should I keep going? I am a trained in inquisition because I am a mom. You get the point….

Sincerely –

Anne “you don’t like me probing?” Sweeney

–Thanks for reading–

Ozzy has it!

IMG_7502.JPG

Ozzy got his iPod Shuffle back. I use the word “back” loosely as we got him the shuffle about 2 years ago and quickly realized that he was not capable of keeping the tiny thing safe. It would have been lost in like a half day. So we confiscated it.  But Ozzy, who has an incredible memory, recently reminded me that I had his iPod Shuffle and he would like to have it. So his dad and I decided that he could earn back the iPod. That would turn out to be a difficult task.

I kept setting goals for the return of it and he was unable to meet the goals. We went a couple weeks and the goals I set were not met. I really wanted him to get the iPod back but to also to know he earned it. I knew by trial and error that I was not setting realistic goals for Ozzy and I had to make it easier. So I set a very manageable goal -get up on time and on the bus two days in a row. He had been missing the bus and also almost missing the bus for a couple weeks and I had had it. So I told him if I had to drive him to school anymore it will cost him $5. But I also told him that I knew he could get up on time and I knew the iPod would be a worthy prize. He was in.

For two days he did it! Got his rear end up and off to school. Maybe with a little bit of father prodding but he was much easier to manage. Wouldn’t you know the second day he got up and out on time I got a note from a teacher letting me know Ozzy had not handed in some work that he had told me he had done. Sigh. Ok he did meet his goals by getting up and out the door so I told him after he got all the work completed (the teacher gave him an extension- for less points) that the iPod was his. He worked and worked and worked some more. I was rooting for him and told him if he got it completed I was buying him 2 songs of his choice. And finally Sunday night it was complete!

Ozzy got his iPod back! I bought him three songs (bc I wanted him to see how worth it good behavior is) and also let him sync some of my music to his iPod. (he likes classic rock- good taste, my man). I told him that in the future I will buy him songs but he won’t know what I am rewarding for until I tell him I’m buying him a song. It could be for his room being pretty neat, or getting up on time, or for not taking peoples things, or for handing in homework on-time etc. Great incentive for improved behavior(I hope). He also knows he will lose the iPod if he commits a biggie infraction like stealing the laptop or others electronics.

I have already bought him a song. Today it was for getting up early yesterday. This morning he didn’t do too well with the getting up -but I want to reinforce the good things he does. Now we are working on an audiobook. He has been very compliant and excited and up the last few days. So I’m happy for him.

I have a suspicion that he will tire of earning songs or the iPod will fill up. So I’m going to have to have a plan for when that happens. But for now I’m going to enjoy his happiness (and compliance!).

I also want to express my thanks to his English teacher who teaches outside the box. They are reading Beowulf and his teacher loves comics. He had the students do a comic panel based on archetypes from the book. Not only does Ozzy love to read, he loves comics. But I wasn’t sure he would like the assignment bc he isn’t into drawing.

I came home from an appointment today to find him very into his comic panels. He spent a lot of time on a few of them and I worried about how much time this could take him. And it was due tomorrow. Well some of the panels are more detailed than the others but overall he did well. But best of all he enjoyed the task and was engaged in it. So I have encouraged him to continue to make comics. We can get him a pad and some new colored pencils. He seemed up for that.  All of these endeavors encourage Ozzy and pull him out of his patterns of repeated negative behavior as he has other things to focus on and he’s getting positive reinforcement.

I know he’s going to mess up. He’s Ozzy and I’ve known him a long time. And he’s a teen(who is about 10 on the maturity scale- not my calculation but the therapists). He’s supposed to mess up. I am just stoked that maybe we are seeing him begin to grasp that positive behavior gets you good stuff. Just a small bit of growth but it’s the repetition that will finally get things to stick in his head. I’m not going to tell you that I learned my lessons fast. I wasn’t an easy teen. So I get it may take years. Ozzy has challenges and can be a challenge. We are doing the best we can. Sometimes my husband and I just go out to regroup. I’ve found that it helps me to get away from the teens once a week! A brain reset!

I am so pleased with Ozzy. And I’ve just realized my next goal related prize. I mentioned comics above -and as I was typing this I remembered that there is a brand new comic book store in town! Comic books=Ozzy rewards. Yay!

Thanks for reading!

Ozzy’s comics. He was very proud of them and I am proud of him.(and yes his handwriting is awful! So is mine).

IMG_7500.JPG

 

IMG_7498.JPG

I hold out promise for his creativity:) The top guy is pretty good- it took him a while but practice makes perfect. Cool teacher to have them do this task.

Ozzy and Me

I honestly was going to table the posts about Ozzy but I changed my mind bc i think this is important stuff to write about.  It was not easy being called a bad mom by complete strangers after my blog post about Ozzy but I put it all out there so I suppose I better be able to take any “feedback” with a stiff upper lip. It is important to me to be authentic in my writing. But I want to try to be considerate too. In my original post about Ozzy I was honest about his actions and about how hard it is on our family but I was also clear that I wanted to find the help for him and all of us. What I lack in aplomb I make up in determination and when you love your kids you want to see them turn into people that can live a good life and take care of themselves. Sometimes with teens you wonder how they will ever get there.

My kids came to us through adoption and two of them were a bit older when we adopted them -ages 2.5 and 4. In my first post I didn’t want to imply that all of Ozzy’s issues were adoption issues so perhaps I downplayed the adoption part and maybe I did not give it the credence that it deserves. Many bio kids have Ozzy’s issues so I didn’t want to set apart his issues as existing only being because he’s adopted. But the fact is some of his issues are adoption related. Early development is dependent on many things and sitting in an orphanage for over 2 years with very little nurturing (passive neglect- too few caretakers for many babies) causes the brain to develop differently than a child that is nurtured properly from birth. I don’t believe this caused his ADHD but it has caused other issues that make up part of the person that is Ozzy. Early neglect can cause lifelong issues if they aren’t acknowledged and properly addressed. Our family had been in family therapy for years – sadly we lost our wonderful therapist to cancer a little over a year ago. It has taken a while to get a new therapist and then getting used to her. I am finding that the new one does know her stuff- I was slow to get on board but I am liking her more.

I noted before that when I shared my blog post about Ozzy what came was some flames for the post but also came many offers to help and many good suggestions. I had people share with me that they live with a challenging child- some never had shared it openly because of the scorn they feared. That made me sad. It does not serve us to keep things quiet- we must respect privacy but in times of crisis reaching out our hand often gets a handhold back in return .It is easy for others who have not walked in our shoes to judge- but perhaps judgement can be replaced with care and concern – it is certainly more helpful than throwing barbs at someone will ever be.

Before I posted that blog about our family in crisis I was feeling very low and I was losing hope. Since my post I have had a change in heart. Through the kindness of others I been made more aware of attachment disorders. I have been sent articles on anxiety, I have read more on ADHD, and reminder reads on early development neglect. I have also done some soul searching about the way I want to parent my child – and how I can adjust my sails so I can come through this in one piece- with peace.

Last week Ozzy, my husband, and myself went to the therapist’s office. The session ended up being more for my husband and I and less for Ozzy who saw her at the very end. We really needed to sit down and talk to her about our concerns. The good news?  He is probably not a sociopath..I never thought he was really – he loves animals too much – but so many of his behaviors had me worried. Without getting into too much detail I will say we discussed much and I learned that with ADHD alone kids typically have a 30% delay emotionally. So he is 10 years old emotionally and probably younger when the fact of early neglect in an orphanage is taken into consideration. So we could be dealing with a child who is 7-10 yrs old in a 14 year old body. The other item to add to that is that he is a 10 yr old in a teen body with very little impulse control. So it is not realistic to think just because a 10 year old might understand that it is not ok to take someone else’s Kindle and be able to stop themselves from doing it- that Ozzy should do that -a kid like Ozzy has impulse control issues and might be able to verbally tell you he should not take it but he has much trouble stopping himself from doing it. So that scares me a lot from the standpoint of drugs and alcohol and his ability to say no..will he?

We also addressed the issue of attachment disorder and the therapist agreed he probably has some attachment issues. And she corroborated what others had said to me that once a child is in his teens it is hard to “fix” attachment issues. While I do see some of his behavior as attachment related I think there is some attachment there. Ozzy can be very giving. When we were at the beach last weekend he spent hours looking for shells. He and I share a love of shells and he kept showing me each one he found. Sunday he found a lovely piece of sea glass and when we arrived home he walked over to me with the sea glass in hand and told me he wanted me to have it. And there was no “can I do this” or “have that” following the gift (that would be my other son “L”!)  Ozzy just wanted me to have the piece of glass.

Perhaps it is hard for me to think he might not have attachment to us. As mad as he makes me I know I am attached to him and I love him.  I recall in the early years trying to do some at-home therapies that involved holding your child like an infant and looking into their eyes trying to hold eye contact with them- you could even offer them a bottle- I couldn’t go that far but we tried the infant holding and mostly they just laughed. I also recall a particular holding therapy that was supposed to increase attachment but seemed to upset my kids more than anything- so we stopped that after one or two tries. Did I not try hard enough? Is he really detached from us? Will he attach to a spouse, have healthy friendships? I don’t have the answers- and I wish I did but all we can do is try to give him help and the tools he needs to lead a productive -and hopefully- love filled life.

Ozzy is a combination of many things. He has many, many great qualities and he also has a number of not so great ones. We all are peppered with multiple facets to our personalities but as parents we have to try to bring out the best in our kids and get them ready for adulthood- it is a daunting task at times. It can be very challenging when you have a child with special needs and behavioral issues like mine does.

The therapist has given us suggestions for Ozzy. It was made clear that he needs to have very strict boundaries and very clear goals and rewards so he understands what is expected of him- and we have to stick to those boundaries.The rewards are based on things that really mean something to him. His first reward will be earning his ipod shuffle back, and then earning time on the Xbox/laptop/kindle. His goals to get these rewards will start out basic – Clean room, no calls/emails from school, no taking any electronics- reward after one week will be the iPod…after that, rewards will come more frequently and will include Xbox time and laptop time this will be for controlling temper, not stealing, bathing, clean room etc. I want him to succeed and I find having long-term goals are very hard for him. So we will try to go 3-4 days to reach a reward.

I was not for the rewards system at first- I felt like he is too old for stuff like that – but I realized a couple things-A) if we are dealing with a ten year old – which if you spent any time with Ozzy you could tell he is immature (but Lord he is super smart- ergo why he can be manipulative)- ten year olds will most likely respond to rewards. and B) I have no way to punish him because he never adheres to a punishment. So clear goals = clear rewards. I like it. I am not saying that I like having a 14 year old that is highly smart but has the maturity of an 8-10 yr old and lacks impulse control. Its not easy –but it is what it is. And I have to step up.

So then there is me.  How can I keep from going nuts with a challenging child?  How do I hold it together so I am not stressed to the max all the time- worrying about every little thing he might do? How do I keep positive? How can I be a decent mom to him and the other two- and a decent wife to my husband- when I am so stressed out?  I am working on this. I decided to change my attitude about how I look at this. I don’t have to take every bad thing that happens and make everything become bad and negative. Negativity breeds negativity. He is going to mess up- I know this. My kids are all going to mess up- and they do- but with Ozzy it is likely going to be something just a little more over the top.  If I don’t change it is only going to hurt me. Ozzy will be Ozzy and his actions are his own. I know I am going to get mad at him in the future but I am hoping that I can hold my tongue better and let the anger go a little faster. I know there will be days where I want to pull my hair out and just give up. I know this. And it is okay. I just have to remember that I don’t have to own Ozzy’s behavior – he does.

We all know as parents that we have to try to guide our kids through the twists and turns of life but we only have so much control. Ultimately, they will make their own choices and they will have rewards and consequences depending on those choices. We so want them to succeed and it can tear at our hearts when they don’t. For Ozzy he is high risk for some crazy stuff. It is hard to think of his future without worrying- but I will try to picture it the way i want it to be for him – perhaps that will make it so.  For me with Ozzy it is really about giving him the help and letting him figure out which way he wants to go. God has a plan for Ozzy- and I was supposed to be a part of it. Even if Ozzy doesn’t change – he surely has changed me.

Thanks for reading–

IMG_6875.JPG

Ozzy and his 3D Taj Mahal- completed in 45 minutes. Next is St Peters Basillica in 3D!

IMG_7014.JPG

Ozzy and the pups…

Embracing the unexpected

We were heading out of Bethany Beach, DE last Sunday after a much needed weekend away -lovingly paid for by my mother who knows what the beach means to me and the family. It was a gorgeous morning and as we headed north towards Rehoboth I was thinking a few things:

1. I was feeling not as relaxed as a weekend away might create. My kids were irritating me. They left a pizza out all night long – the last one to take a piece after Kevin and I said our goodnights didn’t put it away – well there went breakfast. And upon doing my last sweep through the house I found a roll of paper towels in the kids bathroom. I realized there was no toilet paper in the bathroom -so guess what was used as toilet paper for the weekend? Yep the paper towels. No harm done-the toilet still flushed-but I was so frustrated at why this occurred. Why not seek out toilet paper that we always bring to the beach? Why not just ask!? Oh yea-their teens. If I can laugh I can deal-but I wasn’t in a laughing mood on that Sunday. I just was growly at all who surrounded me. I dislike that feeling.
2. I was thinking how Kevin and I need to get away ALONE. And I also know how hard that is but maybe we can make it happen. –soon–
3. As we crossed over that bridge and I was less than relaxed I realized that I hadn’t put my feet in the ocean the whole weekend. I have no idea why I didn’t but it began to bum me out the more I thought about it.

As we came off a bridge that separated Bethany from Dewey and Rehoboth, I said aloud “I didn’t put my feet in the ocean the whole weekend.” And Kevin said “it’s not too late. You can still do that”. What a guy. So he suggested we pull off the road in Dewey Beach and I could put my feet in the water and then we would head off.

So we found a quiet street and parked the car. Dewey Beach is a family beach to a degree but it is also known as a party beach where 20 and 30 something’s flock on weekends to drink and well meet up. It’s been that way for years so at first I was unsure what we might see on the sand. It was after ten in the morning but… The kids jumped out of the car too because they wanted that last touch of the Atlantic.

Over the dune we went and on the other side was beautiful sparkling water and a handful of people on the beach. Mostly there were families and I saw no signs of leftover partiers from the night before. The best part? The DOGS! There were lots of dogs. After September 15, dogs are allowed on the beach. And Dewey likes their dogs! It was so nice.

We walked out to the edge of the shore took off our shoes. I put my feet in the ocean and it was great! Why had I not done this all weekend? I used to be a huge ocean swimmer but as I got older I became less tolerant of cold water and more leery of rough water. I am a very good swimmer I spent years on swim team and in the pool in general. I was the girl you had to pull out of the ocean to go-I never wanted to leave. But over the years I have become a dipper. Toe in -wading to my shins. Then I got cancer and then came the lymphedema and shoulder mobility issues and I realized -darn it- now I can’t swim- at least not in the ocean. I couldn’t save myself in rough waters. That just stinks. I don’t like to feel that vulnerable. Before my omission from ocean swimming had been my choice but now it was a real limitation – something taken away. I didn’t like it. But that wasn’t the reason I didn’t put my feet in the ocean until Sunday morning. I honestly just didn’t feel like it Friday and Saturday. I can’t even explain why. It wasn’t until it was slipping away as we headed home that I realized I felt a loss in not doing so.

When those waves washed over my feet and I stood on that gorgeous beach it was like a perfect moment. The water was just the right temperature, the undertow minimal and not too many waves. My kids were enjoying the water too. I realized I wasn’t as annoyed at them as I had been. I wanted to stay. One kid said something about getting his suit on- next thing I knew we all were taking turns getting changed in the car. I had to dig deep in a mass of stuff to get my suit out of my bag and it was proving hard for my arm but I persisted bc I was staying and I was getting in that water. And not just my toes -all of me- ok well most of me-I needed to be careful still- but i wasn’t going to not go in out of fear.

What transpired was a wonderful 2 hours that finally relaxed my mind. The growly part of me went away for a while. I swam more that day then I had in years (ok I did not swim but I enjoyed waiting for waves and dodging them – and I will swim – really swim- again – it’s on now). My husband and kids swam more that day than they had all weekend. I went into the water much further than my toes. I felt freer than I had felt for weeks. I won’t be a toe in the water lady anymore.

After a couple hours we called it a day. I couldn’t find the sunscreen in the car when I was changing into my suit so that was not good for Kevin and me. My darker kids fared better. We were just the right blend of sandy and toasty.

It was the perfect unexpected morning. We all seemed a little lighter and the world a bit brighter. I’m thankful for that time. Sometimes you just don’t know when something as seemingly insignificant as putting your feet in the ocean will turn into something special.

Thanks for reading.
PS – my husband and I still need that time alone. I’ll be working on that.

IMG_6925.JPG

Kevin remembering his days in Dewey – oh have things changed.

IMG_6927.JPG

Hewey, Dewey, and Lewey – aka – L, K and the famous Ozzy- subject of a few posts here.

IMG_6923.JPG

beauty

IMG_6921.JPG

I have this picture to remind me of that feeling of when my toes hit that water.

IMG_6935.JPG

I may be dancing or balancing – I’ll take dancing..

IMG_6949.JPG

Thats Paisley and her mom. Paisley was a sweet rescue who is like velcro to her mom except the few times she saw another dog chasing a ball- and she wanted our frisbee.

IMG_6938.JPG

I did not want to get out of the ocean!

IMG_6946.JPG

The boys going for a swim.

IMG_6930.JPG

Dogs were everywhere- I loved it!

IMG_6903.JPG

Ozzy spends a lot of time searching for shells. He is quite lucky and found this sand dollar over the weekend- 1 of 3!! I was amazed.