Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I feel like I'm getting beat up

I have been naive. Over and over I am amazed by my naivety.

I've read plenty of foster and adoption blogs (mostly adoption blogs). In these wonderful blogs, moms would often talk about the physical exhaustion of therapeutic parenting. I usually read too much into this I think. I just assumed they were talking about restraining the children or other physical acts that would wear them out.

I had no idea!

The two beauties that have moved into our hearts and our homes are wearing me out. It's not their fault really. Like I said before, you don't undo 9 years of trauma in under two weeks. But I swear...everything in the house is an argument! They just want to test OVER AND OVER -- exactly how safe is this house?! This afternoon MissArguePants and TurtleTurtle were playing upstairs with two of the cherubs. TT and Bart both came downstairs to tell me that MissArguePants was pulling her pants down around her bum and dancing around.

It's no big deal. I am forever telling the oldest cherub to pull up his pants. (Why must teenagers have such an aversion to belts - or even to adjusting those tabs on the insides of their pants?!) I just don't want to see anyone's underwear.

Of course MissArguePants had to follow the cherubs downstairs as they were tattling on her. Of course she had to immediately get defensive.

I'm not a fan of tattling. However, I did think that I should briefly address the issue. All I did was look at her and her sister and told them to keep their pants pulled up. No big deal to me. But obviously this was a big deal to MissArguePants. She had to immediately tell me that her pants weren't pulled down. Then she promptly turned around and said, "See, all I did was THIS" as she pulled her pants down a couple inches and shook her rear end at me.

I told her to pull her pants back up because obviously she had pulled them down a little. The most illogical argument started from there. Somehow me telling her to pull up her pants equated with me loving other people more than her. Somehow I didn't want her around anymore. In a huff, she turned and stomped off to her room back upstairs.

When MissArguePants stomps - she wants to be followed. The louder the stomp, the more she wants to be followed. In fact, if you don't follow her she'll come back to where you are, pick another fight and stomp off again. So, this time...I followed.

She was in her bed crying her eyes out accusing me of more inequality. I don't even remember all the details. All these arguments are starting to roll together in my brain. This time though I wanted to quickly get my point out and then go away so she could be angry alone. I'm pretty sure she hollered out the standard, "You don't want me anymore" phrase.

I took a deep breath and very sternly taught her a new truth. I tried to be calm, but I was ticked off and I said, " are going to experience something new right now. You are going to experience an adult being angry with you and NOT hurting you. I am angry. But I am not going to hit you, take anything away from you, or hurt you in any way."

I got through.

She stopped her craziness long enough to listen to me. I reminded her that I loved her and all I wanted for her to do was to keep her pants pulled up. It was no big deal. She wasn't in any kind of trouble. And then I walked out of her room.

Thankfully, that was the only fit from the girls for the day today.

Anyway...back to my naivety.

Today was an easy day. Yesterday...not so much. By the time I got the ladies in bed for the evening, I was exhausted beyond belief. Both girls were in a funk...dysregulated...throwing a fit...whatever you want to call it...for over two hours. I didn't have to restrain them. But I couldn't really leave them alone either. I still had to do the typical household chores like clean up from dinner, help with homework, get the boys ready for bed, etc. In and amongst that I had to keep two little girls from going completely off the deep end. I can't even really describe their fits in writing. It's not like they're violent...but they could be. They aren't running away...but it's awfully close. They like to run and hide all over the house. What's to say the wouldn't go out the front door? By the time I collapsed on the couch to watch a show about Parenthood ('cause I guess I'm just not getting enough of it in my own home) I physically ached.

It's not the first time either. After MissArguePants' first BIG fit I felt like I had been in a boxing ring. Trying to be logical when two children from horrific pasts see no logic is like taking care of an infant. They're crying and there is little you can do about it. I try to love on the girls but they push me away when they're really upset. I try to leave them alone but they follow me around picking more fights so they can have my attention. I'm damned either way.

Overall though, the girls are displaying behaviors that are perfectly normal for what they've been through. I just keep praying that I can not take the disrespect so personally. The more calm I stay, the better things really are. Even if I keep on getting sucker punched in the gut.

Another blog that I read answered the question today about whether or not she regrets fostering. It got me thinking. Do I regret turning my family upside down like this? The answer is no. As we prayed over the girls before bed tonight I thanked God for all the blessings He has poured out onto our family. Our three boys are learning to give, share, love, and care for others in a very personal way. The two girls are learning that not all adults are going to give up on them, hurt them, or walk away completely. We are blessed beyond measure.


jendoop said...

It does sound very much like taking care of a toddler, they are emotional toddlers.

Today I thought about how much my little guy has improved, it is amazing how quickly children can change when it takes adults years to work through their stuff. Be strong, know that the better you stick to what is right for them, the faster the changes will take place.

Keep on keepin' on my fostering friend!

marythemom said...

You handled it really well. The only thing I would have done differently is stayed with her. Maybe not even talking about the incident. Just giving her some time being with a regulated adult. She might have opened up and talked to you more. She probably needed some "mommy time" and not known how to ask for it the right way. She's also probably not able to handle hugs and comfort from you yet, but just knowing you're there is huge.

I still think my daughter raged because she needed me to physically restrain her so she could get the touch she needed but couldn't ask for or accept. Now that she's finally attached and can come to me for hugs and comfort, we don't have the rages anymore.

You're right about the logic though. Due to the trauma, developmentally she's much younger than chronologically. Logic has nothing to do with it right now! Handle her like she's a young toddler and you'll find she responds. For me it helps to remember that she's much much younger than she looks. When a two year old says no, it doesn't trigger me the same as when an 11 year old does. I just have to remind myself she's only a baby! (My daughter is mentally and chronologically 15, but emotionally and developmentally she is only 6. I frequently have to remind myself of that when she's acting out because she's overwhelmed.)

Hugs and prayers!

Mary in TX