Monday, September 24, 2012

Hope?!?!

Today I spent a good deal of time on the phone.  I called the school psych and told her about V's suspension.  I emphasized how upset I was at seeing a police officer (albeit a good officer) being called in on a 5 year old.  Who calls the cops on a 5 year old.  My initial reaction was that it was over the top, but everyone at the school seemed to think it was acceptable... and all these other people I talked to seemed to think it was acceptable.  Maybe my thoughts were just because I love that little girl that much?!?

Then I talked to a very special young woman who is close to V.  She felt that they over-reacted.  She felt that a 5 year old never should have been let to do that much damage.  She felt that V was re-directable.  I trust her.  She cared for V for awhile.  She also validated my initial, gut reaction.  There is no sense in calling a police officer on a 5 year old.

I also called a local hospital today.  They are known for their psychiatric ward.  V and DQ's therapist recommended that I call to get a behavior screening done on V.  The very kind woman on the other end of the phone listened to my story.  She then gave me two numbers to two places a little closer to me that might be able to help.  I immediately disregarded the 2nd number and name because it was a place I had heard of before, and didn't hear very much good about it.  The first however stuck out in my mind.  I had never heard of it. 

So I called the first number, and spoke to the owner.  An incredible woman, whom I kept thinking that everyone couldn't help but love her upon meeting her.  She listened to V's story, then asked me some questions.  She then said that she would like to meet with me face to face, and said she was available after 5:00 today.  I told her I would be there as soon as I could (this place is about 15-20 minutes from my work - depending on interstate traffic). 

At 5:30 I pulled in the parking lot worried that I was late, and this woman may be upset with me.  She was understanding, and even offered me something to eat or drink. 


Yeah.  You read that right.  She offered me something to eat or drink.  She was genuine.  She listened, and asked questions about V.  She told me at one point that her past is in the past, and all she cares about now is her future.  She felt that V's behaviors will qualify her for the program.  I sat there in a state of near shock the entire time.  Never before have I been treated with as much sincerity and respect in regards to testing for V.  Heck it isn't every often that people believe me that a child under the age of 6 can have severe debilitating behavior problems, but this woman didn't blink an eye when I listed off V's worst behaviors.

I feel so enlightened.  There are some drawbacks (packing well rounded meals for breakfast and lunch and making sure she gets 8oz of milk at each meal as the facility doesn't provide food), but the hope of V being a happy...  well adjusted child?!?!  Is well worth any drawback.

Our insurance will cover this 100%.  The drive is a little out of our way... but again....  well adjusted, happy child.  That truly is the bottom line isn't it?

This is an all day therapy course.  She may be dropped off at 7 and picked up at 6, but must be there for 8 hours (we can drop off a little later, or pick up earlier depending upon our needs).  Once accepted by the therapist who screens her she will go here instead of school EVERY week day until they no longer see a need for her to be there, then she will return to public school.  I voiced my opinion about being concerned she will be behind in school.  She assured me that they do work on writing letters, rhyming words, colors, counting/numbers, etc.  It is JUST LIKE SCHOOL - except licensed therapists are teaching the children.  And she reminded me that her behaviors are probably preventing learning at school anyway - so now is the time to get her in their program.  The owner told me that the average care plan is for 72 days, but V could be there for less or more time depending on her behavior.  Oh she also told me that they have a 96% success rate of helping children turn their lives around. The teacher to child ratio is 1:4, and ALL of the teachers are licensed therapists.
  
All of this pends on another therapist having a session with us and doing a "psych" eval. on V, but the owner felt confident that the therapist would feel that V was eligible for the program and we would receive the help we needed with her.

Does anyone else wonder when the other shoe will drop?  I know it's awful of me to think, but it's so hard for me to have hope that we have finally found what we need to turn this child's life around.  This facility is the only one like it in the Tri-State area.  They accept kids with severe behavior issues from age 18 months - 9 years. 

Could someone pinch me please?

More good news, we got our diebels testing results for our 2nd grader, DQ - she is doing AWESOME with her phonics, reading skill, and comprehension skills.  She was above where she needed to be for every single aspect.  We are so proud of her!!  She is such a smart young lady!   She is also doing well in competition dance!  AND I finished her Halloween costume yesterday.

So there are wonderful things happening in our lives.  I hope to keep writing you about all the awesome things to come!!!!

P.S.  V got her ears pierced a week ago!  They're so cute.  I will upload a photo soon as I can!

Aunt TT


Friday, September 21, 2012

Kindergarten Suspension

Today is Friday.  The day was going well until around 11:30, when my cell phone rang.  I recognized the girls school number on it, and picked it up.  The sweet school secretary asked me if I was V's guardian.  I told her yes.  She said that there was an emergency at the school, and she asked if I could come right away.  I asked what was wrong, was V hurt?  She assured me it wasn't a medical emergency, but couldn't go into detail with what was going on.

I was alone at work.  One co-worker was at the other store, the other on vacation.  So I let my boss know I had to leave, and the co-worker at the other store said she would come up to my store to cover me.  I left the office in the capable hands of the service manager and fled to the school, fighting tears the whole way.  My stomach was in knots.  I didn't know what happened, and was afraid of what I would be walking into.

Once I pulled up at the school I noticed a couple helping their Kindergarten aged child into their vehicle, and they looked at me a little too long... I wondered if V hurt them, and they were wondering if I was her parent...  looking for someone to blame.  But what I noticed most of all?  The police cruiser parked right in front of the school.  I kept thinking, "Please tell me that isn't for V..."

An aide led me to the principal, who happened to be in V's classroom.  When I walked in, I notice the police officer....  and V hiding under a table... surrounded by a huge mess.  Every chair was overturned.  Every bucket of crayons (on each table) was thrown everywhere.  There were little yellow handled safety scissors all over the place.  Mustard yellow pencils strewn everywhere.  I couldn't breathe for a second.  I looked at the officer in shock and said, "did she do this?"  "Yes."  He responded.  "All of it.  Does she do this at home?"  I am still staring wide eyed, and tell him no.  He nods, sees me on the brink of tears, then asks me to come with him into the hallway.

He asks me what is going on.  I tell him I am in shock over this.  I explain to him her history, how I have been trying to get her help, but due to her age... no one really wants to touch her.  He tells me that there is a special place in heaven for people like me.  People who take on the hurt, lost, innocent.  But he makes it clear that this can not happen.  I assure him I know that, and am heart broken to think that it did.  He lets me know that she didn't just overturn chairs, but that she also hurt her teacher, and a few other students.  He tells me he understands from a personal point of view how she could be angry, and that he knows that she can grow up to be someone great, as he came from a rough childhood, but made something of himself.  He gives me hope.  Although it is  glimmer of hope, I still feel the weight of the situation.  I know there is no quick fix.  There is no magic cure.  I also know that her days at this school are probably limited.

The principal suspends her from school for five days.

She seems oblivious.  Either she doesn't understand the gravity of the situation... or she doesn't care.  Either way, it isn't good.

So we made an emergency appointment with her therapist, who is now suggesting another psych eval, and possibly even meds.  One of the things I have been working hard to keep her from having to do.  But if it is what is best for her, then I must consent.  We have a rough road ahead of us.  We have a lot of decisions before us.

I love this little girl with my heart and soul.  On the way to work, I couldn't help but cry.  She asked me why I was crying, and I told her that it breaks my heart that she could hurt anyone.  Again, she seemed phased not in the least.  Therapy was the same.  She seemed oblivious.

So that was our day today.  Hopefully we can get to the bottom of this, and soon.  Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise.  Maybe this will prove that there is something going on, and she will get the help she needs....  I can only hope.  I second guess my decision to put her in Kindergarten so early now.  But paying for daycare was putting us in the  poorhouse.  It seems that every decision I have to make for this beautiful child is a lesser of two evils.  I wish things could be different.  I just don't know how to make them so.  I hope that somehow I will be given the wisdom to do what is right by V.  She can be such an amazing child when she keeps her temper under control.  So full of love and giggles.  I admit I have distanced myself from  her a little because for me she has also been full of heartache.  Seeing sights like I saw today.... knowing that the police had been called on my 5 year old...  It's just so hard to take.  So hard to know what to do to help her turn her life around.  But I have to figure out something fast.  Oh and figure out where she can stay for 5 days next week while she is out of school and M and I still have to be at work.  This child is such a puzzle....


Aunt TT












Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DQ and The Green Eyed Monster

This morning DQ told me that she has "been attacked by the Green Eyed Monster."  Somewhere she has learned that the "Green Eyed Monster" is a term for jealousy.  It describes how ugly jealousy can be, and is a really good metaphor.  So I asked her what she was jealous of.  Her response?

"Because Z-man got to see my real mom twice, and I haven't been allowed to."

Ouch.

She said this while I was braiding her hair for school.  M and V were sitting on the couch.  My head snapped up.  I made eye contact with M.  He saw the fear in my eyes, and shrugged his shoulders.

We knew this day would happen.  When you keep secrets, you create situations like this.  DQ was bound to find out one day that her brother has been permitted to see their birth mother, and she hasn't.  She still doesn't know about having a younger brother yet.  But when these situations happen... you just have to roll with it and make the best of it.  We were as prepared as we could be.  I explained to DQ that we didn't think she was ready to see her biological mom yet.  Because she had moments that she was still so angry, and she still had other issues that we are trying to work on.  She seemed to accept that.

I talked to her about calling my sister her "real mom".  I explained that people that don't understand our situation might not understand why she lives with me, and someone else is her "real mom".  I asked her to call my sister her birth mom or her biological mom.  I asked if she still considers me her mom, and she said yes.  So I told her that if she calls my sister her "real mom" and I am her mom too, it could lead people to believe I am her "fake mom".  She smiled at me, and I knew she understood.

I emphasized to her that if she has any questions at all, she just needs to ask daddy and I and we will answer them as honestly as we can.  I told her that her biological mommy lives pretty far away, and that we can't go and visit her right now, but if she comes back to Ohio any time soon, that we would try to arrange a visit.  We would of course have to have advance notice... because we would have to breach the subject of the 4th child... their younger 1/2 brother. 

I won't lie to you.  Hearing DQ say my "real mom" about my sister broke my heart a little.  It reminded me of what a strong bond birth really is, and how very much she will always love my sister.  My life has been turned upside down, and made to revolve around these two amazing girls.  I feel like I deserve the title of "real mom," not my sister.  But I have to remind myself that this is coming from the mind of a 7.5 year old.  She doesn't understand everything that I do.  I had a brief thought flash before my eyes of DQ deciding that she would rather live with her birth mommy than me.  My heart broke a little more.  I pushed all that hurt away, focused on today, and the fact that I have both girls in my life - then moved on. 

I told DQ that M and I work really hard to give her the life she has today.  That we make sure she has so many things at her disposal.  I told her that her birth mom is really happy that she is with us, because she knows that I will love can care for her as if she were my own child.  I told her that her mommy has asked M and I to adopt her.  She doesn't understand exactly what adoption is, so I explained that it would mean that her mommy wants her to live with us until she is old enough to make decisions for herself.  She asked why, and I told her because her mommy knows she is getting everything she needs with us, and she doesn't want someone else to try to take her out of this wonderful environment and put her somewhere else.

This is such  heavy conversation before breakfast.

I didn't tell her that her mommy wants her with us because she doesn't feel she can give her what we can.  I didn't tell her that it is the ultimate sacrifice of love.  This is all for when she is older.  It's just not appropriate right now.  I hope I handled it right.  I know that there will be more questions, and in time, more secrets that are unveiled.  But for now - we will just keep going at the pace we are going at, and hoping it is shaping the best future that could possibly happen. 

Though all of this V was present... and much more occupied with other things.  She chimed in once saying that she doesn't remember her birth mommy.  M told her that is because she was so young when her birth mommy left.  He isn't quite as compassionate as I am about this subject.  He doesn't have the love for my sister that I hold.  He is just a little rough around the edges.  But he doesn't have the background I have.

So I think we have slain the green eyed monster for now.  I'm sure it will rear it's ugly head again, but I just thought I would share with you another moment in raising children that someone else gave birth to.

P.S.  Happy 35th birthday to my older brother today!!

Aunt TT

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Little Black Hole

When you parent a child... it is a daunting, exhausting task.  You have to give so much of yourself, to help these children grow into adults.  You spend so much time ensuring they are safe, well fed, healthy, and generally happy....  that you lose track of yourself a bit in the mix.  You lose track of friends.  You lose track of some family. 

Now imagine trying to raise a precious, blue eyed, blond haired black hole of aggression.  You have all of the concerns I mentioned above, but you also have to make sure your child doesn't harm others.  You have to dedicate so much positive attention, love, and affection that seems to just be lost upon that angelic little black hole. 

Why do I compare my sweet 5 year old to a black hole?  Well because everything good and wonderful that I put into her just... disappears.  OK.  So I am exaggerating.... a little.  It doesn't disappear entirely.  I still see glimpses of the goodness.  Like at 3:00 in the morning when she needs a snuggle, and says, "Mommy I love you."  Or on the rare chance I catch her doing something good, and I can praise her, and her little face lights up like a perfect dawn.  There is good.  It isn't all bad.  But some days...  the good is SO hard to find.  She is a black hole, because she is such a force to be reckoned with.  She is so strong willed.  She will stomp and scream and yell, regardless of where she is or who is watching.  Black holes are known for sucking things into their bottomless void... and my child tries constantly to suck my love and positivity into her negative and angry world.  It is a daily battle to keep from becoming angry and negative just like her.  It is so difficult to point out the good she does... when there is so much bad.  And it's almost like she likes it this way.  She thrives in the chaos.  Yes.  I am talking about a 5 year old. 

My little V is struggling in Kindergarten.  I called my mom so upset yesterday because I don't know what to do to help her.  She is so impulsive.  If daddy or I aren't there playing Jimmeny Cricket...  she is usually not making the very best decisions.  She has been very aggressive.  Her teacher told me the other day, "she is so smart, she just won't keep her hands to herself."  It's the truth.  I am trying to get her tested for an IEP, but still have not had a phone call returned about setting up the testing.  Her therapist says she would like to go out for a visit to observe how V behaves in a typical school day... but we don't have a date set for that yet.  It just feels like such a cluster... and I can't seem to get a handle on any of it. 

V loves to aggravate her sister... to the point that DQ can't stand her.  V will pee her pull-up at bedtime... just because she doesn't want to get up and use the potty (underwear too...  we try....).  She tries to lie when she is in trouble... regardless of how much we tell her that lying causes a loss of trust... and loss of trust means loss of doing fun things that we may have otherwise let her do.  M and I stand our ground as firm and solid as we can.  It is just so hard sometimes.  It's like carrying this 60lb. black hole kicking and screaming up a hill both ways... in 4 foot of snow.... barefoot... without getting sucked into all the negativity, and becoming part of the black hole yourself.... 

I can see how she would be exhausting for a woman trying to manage 20 other 5-6 year olds, AND teach them how to read/write at the same time.  I feel for the teacher... but I also wish with all my heart that she was better equipped to deal with the problems that V offers up.

DQ seems to be doing well in 2nd grade.  We have parent teachers in a few weeks, and I have made sure that she knows that I will talk to her teacher, and if she is not being honest with me, she will lose things she enjoys for a little while.  DQ is enjoying dance very much (V starts tonight). 

M and I have been exhausted.  Life can really wear a person down sometimes.  We are doing our best to make it through, though.  And neither of us have any intention of quitting... ever.  But some days I do want a break.  I do want to disappear into something else.  Away from V's screaming.  I would take the dog with me too.  Because he just looks so sad when she is throwing one of her fits.  I have even tried to point out how very sad Hobie is when V screams and yells.  I have told her she is hurting his ears, and breaking his heart, because all he wants to know is love and affection.  It doesn't seem to phase her.  I just haven't found what will sink in yet.  I only hope I find it before it is too late for her. 

Aunt TT

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Second Guessing

I have a new reader.  I am touched that she went back through all my rambling and read what I have to say.  I am also touched that she left feedback.  She made me feel a little bit better about second guessing myself all the time, as she said she feels it makes a person a better parent when they do that.  I tend to agree, just because I feel like I am always looking for ways to be better.  I don't just blindly believe I am the best and my way is the right way all the time.  I accept that I am human.  I am made with flaws.  I will make mistakes.

I need to get some self confidence in my parenting though.  I don't want the girls to think that I am a pushover.  I actually had a dream last night that V's teacher called me in for a conference.  She sat me down, put the girls in another room (where M was, I'm not sure).  She looked right at me and said, "it is evident to me that you didn't want to have children.  But you do now - so you need to start making them priority."  In my dream I was appalled.  I grew a set of brass balls, looked at her and said, "for your information, I didn't "have" these children.  I CHOSE to have these children."  While she stared at me in shock, I continued my rant.  I put as much force into my voice as I could, and I said, "my sister left these children crying on a doorstep, and I stepped in and got legal custody of them to provide a good home.  I do my best.  They are my number one concern.  If I didn't care, do you honestly think I would be sitting here trying to help you come up with a better way to handle my daughter?"

In my dream the teacher began apologizing over and over again.  She took my hands in hers and explained how stressed she has been, and how V makes her classroom more stressful.  I assured her that I completely understand.  I don't turn a blind eye to V's behavior problems.  I try to focus on the good, to help her forget the bad, and push on through life.  I told the teacher that sometimes I have to drag her kicking and screaming (not literally) into the right course of action, but that I understand my role in her life, and I do it to my best. 

I felt good after having that dream.  It felt good to stand up for myself.  To stand up for V.  I know it was just a dream, and I know it didn't really happen, but it still felt good to have a solid sense that I was doing right by this child.  I am growing a backbone.  I am doing what is best for my child.  Sometimes I second guess myself, but I blog it out, or I talk to M about it.  Then things are better.

The photo shoot that I mentioned in my prior blog came out fabulous.  The photos captured the very essence of my lovely daughters.  There were so many good ones, but for now I will share with you my favorites:




Competition dance is in full swing.   It is a bit more expensive than I imagined, and I am trying to get active with the fundraising.  We will need to do a lot of fundraisers to support DQ's dancing.  She loves it though, and has been so happy doing it.  I want to give her the opportunity.  It will be a huge sacrifice on my part, as it will take up a lot of my time, but she is so worth it.

School is going well.  V's teacher hasn't called me to conference, and seems to be trying to redirect her in as many positive ways as possible.  I see her most mornings when I walk V into the building, and touch base.  I have also convinced V that I have many friends at the school, and I usually find out what she is or isn't doing, so there is no sense in trying to lie to me about any of it.  The whole "eyes in the back of my head" theory.   LOL.  DQ seems to be doing better sitting still and listening in class.  I haven't heard her teacher complain about that once yet.  I feel a little disconnected from her teacher because there isn't a behavior chart coming home every day.  Second grade is so different from first and Kindergarten.  It's a learning curve for me too apparently.  I guess the old adage is true, children really do end up teaching their parents a lot.  I learn something new from them every day.  Things like patience, control, and a love deeper than any ocean is truly possible. 

Aunt TT