Once again I must admit that no amount of training can really prepare you for parenting trauma.
My girls have PTSD. (How could you not after living through the trauma they lived through?!) I can't say that they are hypervigilant to the point of it disrupting their lives. But it does become more noticeable as evening comes closer. I think it's also why they have such a hard time falling and staying asleep.
I have read about hypervigilance. I thought I knew what it was. However, I now know what it feels like. And I don't like it one bit!
I have always wanted to have the house where all the neighborhood kids hang out at. I do enjoy having tons of kids around. It's fun to watch them invent games and the rules that go with them. I love having an extra face at the dinner table. We've been in this neighborhood for a year now and we're finally in that place. I think there were at least a dozen kids or more in and out of my house all day yesterday.
Unfortunately, two of those children come from a history of trauma.
A dozen neighborhood friends and trauma do not mix well.
I was in hypervigilant mode all day yesterday. I was dealing with arguing, tattling, fights, fits, tantrums and more. I felt an overwhelming need to helicopter over everyone. Not physically -- I am such the OPPOSITE of a helicopter parent! But I had an ear out to everything because the little fits escalate so fast with my girls.
Maybe I'm just whining here. I'm not exactly sure what my point is.
Except maybe to say that I have a glimmer of understanding as to how they feel. I was physically exhausted yesterday. The stress level I carried all day hurt. I had to stop regularly and force myself to take deep breaths. If they even feel half as uncomfortable as I did yesterday, it would explain a lot of their behaviors.
I'm just not sure what to do with it.
I don't want to stop being the house where neighborhood kids play. I don't think that would be fair to my boys. I know cutting the girls off from friends wouldn't help them either. The only time things are "normal" for them are when they are playing. Everything else scares them to death. (You know, things like family dinners, hygiene expectations, bedtime, rules, structure, etc.)
I'm struggling with how to parent them separately from the three children we already had in our home. My boys have started to pick up their nasty little behaviors to see if they work or not. I'm so damn limited as to how I can parent the foster kids. I'm not with my boys. I've caught myself saying, "I will NOT tolerate that from YOU young man! The girls talk to me that way and I don't like it. But you absolutely will not!!"
But what do I do about it?! I really don't want to start going corporate on my boys.
The arguing, tattling, fights, fits, tantrums and more are wearing me out! I feel guilty wanting my old life back. I feel guilty about how angry the girls make me. I don't enjoy so many of the things I used to be able to enjoy. The constant disrespect and sense of entitlement drain me.
So I guess I am just whining. I picked it up from my girls. :)