Saturday, October 23, 2010

Strike Two

On days like today, I feel desperate and frantic.  I am holding onto a cliff, and my fingers are slipping.  Every time the Vampire bites, it is like someone is kicking gravel into my eyes or stepping on the fingers clinging to the edge of the cliff.  My arms and back are sore and near exhaustion from trying to hold on for dear life.  I ask people for help, and with most, those requests are just falling on deaf ears.  I am at a point in this journey, that I am letting my desperation show to everyone I speak with.  I have been calling therapists, speech therapists, new Child Care Centers because I know I will have to move her soon.  I feel like I had to beg a woman at a center for troubled children to do a diagnostic exam on her, to see if I can't have anything done to help her.  I am hoping that my desperate, frantic search will pay off soon, and will keep trying to haul myself off the edge of that cliff until I am successful.

The actions of the Vampire are entirely out of my control when she is not in my care.  I entrust her to strangers every day, go to work and hope for the best.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week, she has done wonderfully.  Yes, she has had attempts at biting, but no where near as frequent as before, and only one connected (Monday), until today.  Today (10/22), she had strike two.  I was called around 8:45a, and asked to pick her up, because she bit a friend.  "Friend" is what they call the peers of the children.  I don't feel like Katie has any friends.  I am sure she doesn't feel she does either.  How could she, when the other kids are afraid of her?  Even at this new daycare, where she has been there for only a week - the children are afraid of her...

So I spent the morning on the phone trying to make sure I have a plan B in place.  I was referred to a daycare in the area that specializes in behavior issues, and have all the facilities within their building to deal with them (Therapists, etc.).  I called, and was told that there are six children in front of my little one, and that could be awhile.  I put her on the waiting list anyway, and will do what I must, but after speaking to the daycare director... I felt a bit more like I had some power...   I just don't know if I can wield it.  The power is to be more assertive and to tell the current Child Care Provider that I would like to speak to their agency's Licensing Specialist.  I am hesitant on this.  I feel that something isn't right inside either daycare, and the staff members need to be better trained in how to deal with all types of children, instead of just sticking to the easy to deal with ones.  Please do not misunderstand what I am saying.  Some of the teachers are wonderful and do the best job they can.  Others, just don't even try.  In my eyes, this is a tragedy, but in the eyes of others, no where near as bad as abuse, neglect, etc. The employees of the daycare she previously attended did give her many chances.  They didn't give me much, cause two bites in a day, and they sent her home.  She views being sent home as fun, as she loves to be with me or papaw (my emergency sitter).  Although she wasn't spending full days (usually sent home between 9a and 11a) I was still paying full price for daycare, to hold her spot.  I feel that some people at the daycare worked their hardest with the Vampire, and cared about her to the fullest extent, on the other hand, I feel that other people...  just didn't.  Is this something worth ratting them out for?

We are dealing with an extreme behavior problem.  Biting is way worse than hitting, hurts worse, there are health hazard issues, the bruises are horrendous.  Children are afraid of her, she is shunned.  Yet she continues.  I talk to her, level with her, try to reason with her, praise her for the good days, promise great rewards for being a good girl, remind her constantly to use her words, not her teeth.  It seems to work at home, but something is failing at school.  The director at this Plan B daycare was invigorating to talk to.  She didn't sugar coat anything, but told me how it is.  She suggested using chewelery to give her something to vent her oral fixations on, I ordered two this afternoon.  Here is an idea of what it is, a necklace that they can grab and chew on when they feel the need.  The ones I bought are made of soft terrycloth, and can be machine washed and dried.  I bought two so that I can make sure she has a fresh, clean one every day.  A lot of maintenance for me, but they are 7.50 apiece, and I want to make sure it works before I spring for more.  I don't know if I should feed into her oral fixation, or constantly be reminding her to quit chewing on things, but in my situation, I just can't have her hurting other kids - it is not acceptable. 

I did not get a handbook of rules from the Vampire's current Child Care Center, and need to see if I can find the handbook from the former Child Care Center.  I am sure they think they are doing the best they can do at their jobs, and their best just isn't enough for Katie (some of them are quite noticeably lazy, and don't make any effort if they don't have to).  The director at the Plan B Child Care Center praised me for stepping up for these children, and told me that I wouldn't believe how many people wouldn't do the same in my shoes.  She told me that I should keep working as a strong advocate for them, because I am their one and only voice.  The world is so different when someone puts it to you that way.  She said she couldn't make me any promises, but she will work her schedule around and see if there is any way she can help me get the Vampire into her facility soon.  She discussed their policy and procedure with things, and really seemed to care, about helping my sweet little one.  She told me she was truly sorry she didn't have room for me, and I told her that after speaking with her, I was truly sorry as well, but I felt a little better after talking to her.

I have behavioral testing next Friday for the Vampire, and on Monday a meeting with a member of the IEP team, the director of the daycare, and one of her teachers to see if we can't implement some things that will help her with her biting issues.  I am not too hopeful of it helping anything however, because she only has one bite left before they kick her out.  People can say anything they want about me, but they won't have much room to claim that I am not trying every possible avenue to help this child out.  She broke my heart this morning when she asked me to stay at daycare with her.  I told her "this is a really fun place, and I wish I could stay and have fun with you!"  Then I hear the teacher exclaim "It's not fun" sarcastically.  As a parent, I'm in shock, and thinking that I wish I could just stay there with her, and be her conscience, especially since this lady clearly doesn't enjoy her job - but then that would defeat the purpose of my needing Child Care all together.  It is so sad when people are just in a job to collect a paycheck.  In the end, it isn't about money, it is about the lives you have touched, and your ability to excel at your given profession. 

I talked to my mom about it a little bit.  She and Uncle M are people I run to most of the time with these issues.  She told me that she happens to know the Licensing Specialist for this area, and gave her a call for me.  The specialist called me back shortly after that.  I talked to her briefly about what has been going on, things that have been said, and let her know that I just wanted to get her opinion before moving forward with something like threatening to call someone like her to the daycare.  She asked me to gather a few things, and call her back on Monday, so that is what I shall do.  I told her that I don't want to get anyone in trouble, I just want to get my child into a situation that is better for her, and better for me, and that I also want to make sure the other kids at the center are being well cared for and are happy.  She said she understood, and we would talk more on Monday.  I feel as if I have fallen off that cliff into the water below, and now the tides of the ocean are sweeping me away on a path that I can not control.  I hope I am doing right.

The Drama Queen had a field trip at school today.  They went to a local farm as a class, and got to go on a hayride, pick pumpkins, and drink cider.  I sorely wished I could have taken the day off work today to be a chaperone.  I would have loved to have photos of that, and to blog her experience first hand, so she would be able to remember it when she is older, but it didn't work like that.  She was beside herself excited and out of bed on her own accord this morning.  I love when she has something she is looking forward to because she is so easy to deal with, and I can enjoy just being with her and having fun.  She sounds like she had lots of fun on the field trip, but I haven't had a whole lot of time to talk to her about it, because grandma came to pick them up and keep them for the night as soon as I got off work.  The girls were so sweet as I got ready to go to dinner with Uncle M on our date night, they sat on the floor with the flashcards we bought to help the Vampire with her colors, and The Drama Queen quizzed her.  Precious moments.  I got the Drama Queen's school photos yesterday.  She is so beautiful, and I see such promise in her future, and in her eyes.  I'm a little sad that I had to miss photos for the Vampire because of these child care switches, but at least I have the photos from last year to treasure.  Maybe I should just drop the money, and have a professional family portrait sitting for the four of us, and get an individual photo of the Vampire at that time.  Photos mean so much more to me now that I am a "mommy".  

Things have been stressful at work.  I dedicate so much mental energy to trying to keep the Vampire in school.  And I live in fear that every time my phone rings, it is because I have to leave and pick her up.  I feel I am neglecting things, and making mistakes more and more often.  It's like I am at work physically, and I can respond to the most basic tasks, but my mind just isn't in it.  It makes being at my maximum productivity level difficult, but I am determined to get the Vampire into a better situation, and pull through.  I am made of tough stuff - my lineage is proof of that. 

When I came home from work on Wednesday, something amazing happened.  The Vampire calls me mommy or mommy TT off and on all the time and I have become accustomed to hearing it from her, the Drama Queen usually doesn't, but when I came home, she threw herself at me and yelled "MOMMY!"  It shook me to my soul, I hugged her against my legs so tightly as she stood there with her arms wrapped around my waist.  The Vampire was clinging to the other side of me, saying "MOMMY" as well, and I just wanted to sit down and cry.  They think that highly of me... to bestow a title like that upon me.  Speechless.  Then later that evening, we were talking with the Drama Queen about a friend of hers from school that lives down the street from us.  Uncle M was telling the Drama Queen that she should ask if maybe she could get off the bus there with her friend, I fussed at him for putting her up to that, saying that it's our responsibility to do that, and we won't let the kids do our job.  He then tells her, "OK, then tell your friend that your... well what do you call Aunt TT and I?"  She says without an ounce of hesitation "daddy and mommy."  She called Uncle M daddy.  She views him as her father, and it is something that she feels comfortable talking about.  So surreal.  At this point in the conversation, I tell her that if that is indeed her little friend from school who lives there, that maybe one day we will all walk down together so Uncle M and I can meet her friend's parents, and we will handle all the grown up stuff. 

We have a fun weekend ahead, it is supposed to be a visitation weekend, but there has been no contact from the Redneck.  Sunday we are going to visit the Zoo for a trial run of the costumes on the kiddos.  I am in process of cleaning out drawers and closets, and realized that I don't have much in the sizes 6-6x for The Drama Queen, so I am going to have to hit up the thrift stores to see if I can find her some cute clothes.  They usually have so much there for kids, more bang for your buck.  That's about all I have to write about today, I am sure there will be more to follow later!  *HUGS*

Aunt TT   

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