Wednesday 22 September 2010

Archived Post 2010 - Today hope is a 4 letter word.

I don't have much hope today. I have a little more than I had yesterday but it is only marginally more and only because after having a meltdown yesterday morning I found people to help me through it, made some choices and then went to bed knowing that today is a new day.

After I wrote yesterdays post I was feeling overwhelmed by what has been going on with Randall. I decided to email Randall s therapists and see what they thought/could say and in doing that I was really honest about how I was feeling in that moment. Which turned out to be a really good thing because then we talked about how I was feeling and what I needed to do and that gave me some perspective.

I am scared.

I am scared that Randall will not attach to me. It has been 2 years and everyone told me he was going to be the easy kid. Kevin was the hard kid and yet he is attaching, he has made huge strides, making those strides with him makes me feel proud. I feel proud that we took this really tough kid and helped him to turn that around. I am proud that we have success story of what can happen with older child adoption and at the same time I also terrified that we have a worst case scenario on our hands as well.

Twice yesterday Randall said things that caused me seriously consider that he may never get to the place were he trusts me enough to let me in. I can not figure him out, I can not find the pattern and help him to change as I did with Kevin.

Hope is 4 letter word today.

I don't have much hope and I am working on being okay with that for now. I am taking a huge step back from parenting Fudge and letting Jack take over for a bit which works in some ways and not in others because I am the one that is home. I have bought goodnights and given the boys an alarm clock and I will not be pulled into the struggle over wet beds and water drinking any longer. I do need to not start each day with a fight.

I have a plan and that will help me cope but at this exact moment I am still scared and I do not have very much hope that things are really going to change. I am terrified of all the what ifs.

I feel defeated. It is hard to feel this way. It is hard to admit that I feel this way and that an 8 year old has made me feel it. But I do and I know that I am not the first and I will not be last.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Archived Post 2010 - So done

As Corey ( a blogger who no longer blogs but will forever be my hero)  would say, Oh  my freaking head!

The behaviour around here had sucked this last week. Kevin has been a brat to Jack and is some serious trouble over his rage on Saturday which I was not here to witness but I have been told that at one point he was trying to throw chairs at Jack and Jack does have a broken toe. Kevin is showing remorse and is being sweet as pie in an attempt to make amends. When I yelled at him yesterday because I was mad at his brother he just took it, apologised and fixed his typical little boy mistake. Amazing progress for him, he is healing his moving on, it is good.

Randall on the other hand is going to send me to the loony bin. His favourite thing to do is to be defiant by drinking water in the night to make himself wet his bed. We have tried everything from ignoring to punishing to taking things away and charging him for the running of the washer everyday. Nothing has worked. He still drinks water and lies about it even though the evidence is to the contrary and he gets busted each and every time.

Yesterday however takes the cake. His bed was so wet that his pillow was dripping ( gross I know) and yet he was adamant that the only thing he had to drink was a glass of milk at dinner. It was total crap and I knew it but he was adamant. So adamant that he convinced Jack that it was the truth and then Jack and I started to argue because I was not letting Randall off the hook on this one. I made threats about keeping him home to make him tell the truth and Jack disagreed with me saying that maybe there was something wrong, maybe he was telling the truth. I finally gave in and sent the child to school.

He came home from school and I talked and talked at him about how his choices sucked, he was hurting me and that it did not matter what he did we loved him and he was not going anywhere. He told me liked drinking water and so then we had a whole discussion about how we can not always do the things we like and there are things that I like that I can not do ( we have had this discussion 600 times already). There were a few moments where I got really frustrated but mostly it was a pretty calm discussion. He apologised at dinner after I apologised to Kevin for getting mad at him over nothing important.

I moved on, I thought maybe I was wrong, I thought maybe there was something up that we were missing. I made sure there was no way he could of easily had a drink last night. His bed was wet this morning. The first words out of his mouth were but I didn't have a drink. To make a long story short he admitted that everything he said yesterday was lie.

I was speechless, that is rarity for me. I am past angry, I am so angry that  I am silent because I am afraid that I will say something that I will later regret to the little angel. I can not even wrap my mind around the fact that he would let it all get that far and then all of a sudden admit to it as though it is was the most normal thing ever.

I lied as a kid, lied like a trooper but I remember lying to avoid getting in trouble and I worked hard to keep track of the lies so I would not get caught later. But Randall is not lying to avoid trouble, he is lying to make trouble and he totally knows what he is doing. Frankly I am not sure that I know what to do about it. A raging child is easy compared to this.

Anyone got anything that has worked with their little monsters angels?

Friday 17 September 2010

Archived Post 2010 - Why shaming Kevin at school will not work.

Shame is a big part of life. We all feel it and we all know how to make someone else feel it. It is normal BUT it can be harming as well. Kids who have experienced trauma ( most adopted kids have some and it all varies but it is there) have a really difficult time with shame and for many of them it can push them into fight or flight mode at the drop of a hat. Kevin is one of those kids, we have worked really hard with him to teach him that is ok, that it is a normal emotion and that we can work through it.

The problem is other adults routinely use shame as a way of getting children to comply, this is especially apparent at school. As a teacher it was something I would do with a kid to make them realise the error of their ways, I was not trying to guilt them into apologising but instead just trying to get them to make amends and develop some empathy. This does not work with either of my kids. This year the following letter was given to Kevin's teachers and I thought that it might be useful to other Mama's to so here it is.

Dear Teachers,

There are a few things that we need to remember about Kevin and his needs as a child who has experienced trauma and multiple transitions in his short life.

- Shame is a significant issue and trigger for Kevin, using it to make him be compliant will not work, it will just escalate his behaviour. If he perceives that he is being shamed over his behaviour by adults or children he will react. It may take hours but there will be a reaction.
- Making his world smaller to keep other kids safe will only escalate his behaviours if he is made to feel more shame by other kids or staff. (this is the fear that he vocalizes the most at home about what happens at school, if all the kids know I am in place X because of my behaviour they will tease me and hurt me. )
- Each failure and loss that Kevin experiences at school affects his emotional and mental health and thus affects his behaviour.
- Although Kevin is 10 his emotional age is significantly lower and as a result he is often unable to verbalize his feelings and the things that trigger his reactions because he is only just learning this skill. We do not expect a child of 3 or 4 years of age to be able to tell us why they are having a tantrum instead we try to help them contain their emotions and then help them to make amends for their actions.

Kevin needs to be able to succeed at school, we need to work together to meet all of his needs just as we would for any child who presented with significant special needs. Although Calvin’s special needs are invisible that does not make them any less significant.

Some strategies for working with Kevin are:
- Watching for his escalating behaviours and intervening as soon as he appears to be having a conflict rather than waiting for the kids to get an adult to help
- Being aware that change in his routines ( supply teachers, community good byes, special events) cause him stress and his stress comes out as behaviour.
- Directing him to a calming activity when he appears to begin being overwhelmed by a situation - colouring and books are good things that give him space to calm himself down.
- Kevin needs a great deal of structure to be successful. When he is already feeling overwhelmed activities like P.E. and recess can push him over the edge.
- Asking him to leave an activity and move to something else when you notice that other children are pushing his buttons.
- Acknowledging his feelings in a situation even if it appears as though nothing of significance has happened and that he has over reacted
Kevin says “ I was mad because they were staring at me”,
Adult responds “ Wow Kevin that must of made you feel really uncomfortable. Can you tell me about what else happened?”
This sort of response is far more effective because Kevin really does struggle with issues that would seem insignificant for other children his age.

- If Kevin runs and hides after a negative behaviour he is responding to a deep fear or trauma trigger, he will not be successful if you put him back into the classroom without first giving him lots of time and space to regroup.

Please remember that Kevin works really hard to keep it together at school and just because he seems to of bounced back from an issue does not mean that there will not be more behaviour later as a result of that same issue. Kevin can always come home if things are harder than he seems able to handle, in fact we would prefer that he came home before he escalated to the point of hurting another child. He understands that when he is feeling lots of “big feelings” he needs some space to pull himself together. Home is a safe place for that to happen.

Thanks for your continued support in making school successful for Kevin