Monday, February 14, 2011

Crappy behavior mod

This will probably be too long and too graphic. But I've been wrestling around with these thoughts for awhile now. Might as well share them with the blogosphere.

Foster parenting is a trip. Full disclosure is a joke! The bottom line is: CPS needs beds for kids. I believe if you've been through the training and had all the background checks done, that's all that matters to the placing worker. Granted, our agency runs buffer for us on this process. But the intake worker from our agency is limited to only the information CPS gives her. Which means that full disclosure is a joke!

When Pumpkin came to stay with us I was told she had a limp and developmental delay. I was told that she used to have a seizure disorder. (Key words there - used to. I found out the hard way that you never outgrow a seizure disorder. If a person has more than 2-3 seizures in their life, they automatically have epilepsy for LIFE.) However, the worker was honest and shared with me that the only thing Pumpkin said was "Mommy" when they found her.

Ever the optimist, I put Pumpkin way higher on the spectrum of developmental delay than I should have. I assumed the limp was minor. (It's not really a limp - it's full muscle development issues that make walking extremely tedious for Pumpkin and very difficult.) I assumed the reason she only said, "Mommy" was because of the trauma and removal. After all, she was found wandering outside her apartment around midnight. I assumed she was tired and upset.

Note all the "I assumed" statements in the above paragraph?!

The kicker with Pumpkin is they didn't bother to tell me that she's not potty trained.

A five year old in diapers?! Ewww.

I'll be honest here. This is where I decided that it would be too embarrassing to stop the placement. There were three social workers sitting in my living room. The hubby wasn't particularly thrilled with this placement. (He wasn't as optimistic as I was when I described what CPS told me on the phone.) The child was asleep on the love seat. It was awkward. And I didn't want to call it all off. Diapers?! I've done 'em. Surely it wouldn't be that bad. Even then though, I was convinced we were dealing with a 42 pound infant. The CPS (investigative) social worker thought I was nuts and didn't understand why I was the least bit uncomfortable. I was scared to death. We had discussed what kinds of placements we could handle and what kind we couldn't. This screamed "couldn't". But I was strong. God called me to do this. Surely this was going to be OK.

And it is OK. It really is.

But this is where it'll get graphic.

The optimist in me was convinced that Pumpkin and I would work on attachment for a couple months and I'd gradually introduce her to the potty. I'd do it just like I did with my neurotypical children. We'd talk about the potty words. I'd sit her up on the toilet. I knew it wouldn't happen overnight. But I was optimistic.

Now for a dose of reality. Pumpkin looked at me like I was a complete idiot the first time I put her up on the potty. And she has resisted it every time afterward. She has no concept of what happens on or near a potty other than there is water in the bowl. She seems intrigued by the water.

Then her mom told me that Pumpkin knows when she pees or poops in her diaper.

This made me laugh. Not ha ha ha - that's a silly joke. But, oh holy batshit! Really?! Your daughter has NO CLUE! (This all happened on the afternoon of the Family Group Conference when biomom gave Pumpkin THREE apple juice boxes and Pumpkin then had THE. MOST. DISGUSTING. BLOWOUT. of my entire diaper changing life!) I thought I'd handle it OK. But now I was getting ticked off. (This is where the post turns all into my issues and the things I have to deal with.)

From there I started researching how to potty train a special needs child. Everything is pretty much the same as training a neurotypical child. They have to be ready.
They need to be able to get themselves to the bathroom reasonably well. (Pumpkin can't.)
They need to be able to maneuver their clothing to be able to go to the bathroom. (Pumpkin can't.)
They need to know when they are wet or soiled. (Pumpkin doesn't.)

Oh crap. (Literally.) I guess I won't be potty training.

This is where the dirty diapers became some kind of a nasty trigger for me. Every time she poops and just sits around in it I get sooooo grossed out. I get mad because of the mess. I get mad because her mom claims Pumpkin knows when she's dirty. I get mad that Pumpkin has been so horribly neglected. I get mad that I have to do all the hard work and her biomom gets to bring her treats and crap at every visit. I get mad that Pumpkin's mom never has to change diapers anymore. (I'm pretty sure the diaper bag I bring to every single visit doesn't even get touched.) Oh oh oh. I just get mad.

And it's not pretty.

Cause about this time as my brain is swirling around all the nastiness...I'm rolling Pumpkin up on her back so I can see how far the poop ran up the diaper - onto her back - all over everything. (Granted, not every diaper is a blowout. But there have been enough.) You know how babies are proportioned to roll in half when you need to clean their bums? Babies are so damn cute when you fold them in half like that. It's hilarious.

Five year olds are not cute when you have to change their bums. And they don't like being folded in half.

But how does one go about getting all the poop off of a five year old unless they roll them backwards and use about a million wipes?

Here we go again. My trigger is getting worse. I have to make Pumpkin uncomfortable in order to get her clean. She looks up at me and whines. That is frustrating. She often likes to say the word "Mommy" while I'm changing her diaper. Does she mean me?! Does she mean her biomom?! Either way it ticks me off. Then, when I go to clean the front side of her ('cause girls need cleaned there too when they poo) she likes to try to close her legs together.

If it's a really nasty poo I get her as clean as I can with wipes and then we go to the bathroom so I can finish cleaning her in the tub. By now I'm frustrated and I want Pumpkin to walk faster and better than she's capable of. (Remember - these are my issues...not Pumpkin's.) She doesn't understand. And now I'm filtering everything through crabbiness. Totally not fair to Pumpkin. Not fair to her at all.

Needless to say, she's had a few baths that weren't as full of compassion as they should have been. She doesn't understand sit down, lay down, roll over, etc. Cleaning the poo off a 42 pound "infant" isn't a fun chore.

So...I know I have a problem. It's MY problem. I've admitted it to Mr. Amazing. He's been filled with wonderful amounts of support and no condemnation. I've called my mom. She talked me off the ledge and reminded me that it's OK if I get mad at Pumpkin's biomom. Being mad isn't a problem. How I handle it could be. But actually being mad is OK. Even Jesus got mad.

Then I called my sister. She made me laugh. She reiterated that it's OK if I get mad. I'm human. This fostering stuff is super hard work. Then she REALLY made me laugh.

I now have some special stickers picked out (lovely pink hearts to be specific). I am going to put a sticker up on the family calendar every time I change a poopy diaper and manage to keep a positive attitude about things. I have to choose to go completely outside of my body and deal with the situation like it is nothing more than a chore that needs to be done. (Not every moment has to be full of swooning adoration for the child.) But, if I can do it without getting all ticked off at Pumpkin, I can have a sticker.

Bratface (my sister) asked me how many stickers I thought I needed before I should get a reward. (Imagine that question being asked in the silliest of mom voices.) I told her seven sounds about right. Pumpkin doesn't necessarily have a poopy diaper every day with me. Sometimes she'll poo at school. Some days I'll get three chances to practice my patience. You never know. But I figure it will take me about a week to earn seven stickers.

I didn't get a sticker today. (I called my sister AFTER a dirty diaper - not before. And let's just say I didn't have one of my most stellar parenting moments changing said diaper.) But I've got to tell you, this sticker thing just might work. I have to hold myself accountable. Pumpkin couldn't tell you if I acted poorly during a diaper change. Pumpkin can't talk. But I'll know if there are stickers on the calendar or not. And you've got to admit, behavior mod on an adult is pretty funny.

Bratface lives far far away so she joked that I'll have to wait a bit for a reward from her. I mentioned to my hubby that margaritas might be a good reward and he seemed to think he could make that happen. Either way, I'm not sure it's about the stickers completely. But I do think the behavior mod might just help me change my perspective. Crappy behavior mod.


Mama Sky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CherubMamma said...

Oh my! 100 pounds overweight and not potty trained?! Now my situation sounds really easy. Nothing like a story like that to help keep things in perspective. :) I'll be sure to keep everyone informed on my sticker progress so you can join me in spirit with the margaritas. LOL

jendoop said...

This is exactly what you should be sharing with us! As we wait for our next placement I need a reminder of the kind of things you get into when you don't listen to your gut and go beyond the placement requirements you've already decided on.

Despite all the nice flowery talk about how telling foster parents everything is for the best, it isn't what happens. I've even found out facts about Bobby, now that he's moved, that no one told me when he was in our home. I don't understand how a case worker cannot know about a 2 year old's history but she claimed ignorance. Even within the written history there are contradictions.

Considering changing a diaper like another chore and zoning out is exactly what I did with Bobby. And he is much smaller than pumpkin. The time for loves is when they are clean. The stickers are honestly a good way to keep track of anything because life is so busy it's hard to remember anything! Everyone needs rewards!!

Cheryl said...


MamaFoster said...

you are so awesome, your honesty is awesome!

we all go thru this (not exactly in this way but other ways) and I know I do not handle things right all the time either. some days i don't handle anything right.

i could probably use a sticker chart too but i opted for a baby sitter :)