Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kill Em' With Kindness

So it's been a busy week and it's only begun. Hate seems to be catching on, spreading like wildfire all over the world. Yet another shooting here in the states on a military installation. People showing off their bigotry and ignorance with pride and calling it "being a real American" because a blue-eyed blonde did not win the Miss. America crown. A little closer to home those that judge my child and family for our differences from them.

It would be easy to get lost in this haze of anger, hate and judgement. It would be easy to strike out at others and hand them some of the hurt and pain I am carrying around. Some days that is a tempting solution.

I drove 80+ miles again yesterday for a follow-up for our RAD kid Monkey. It was just the the three of us (Dragon Baby in the backseat) as Teddy Bear Man has been away for work going on three weeks now. The last time we tried to get to this appointment our fuel pump went out on the side of the highway. We ended up stranded there for hours and in all that time only one other car had stopped at mile marker 52. That didn't happen this time, because it wasn't our old decrepit vehicle that I drove.

It was my neighbor's air-conditioned (!) sedan. The one she insisted on loaning me so we could get to Monkey's appointment. Our vehicle isn't in the best shape right now and I was worried about missing yet another appointment. I was terrified to ask her for help (though she has always been perfectly gracious) but couldn't think of any other solution. So on Saturday I approached her about getting a ride to Monkey's appointment in a city north of us. I explained that due to a payroll issue I had no money to give her for gas but would pay her back as soon as I could do so.

My heart was throbbing in my ears when she explained she had work that day (I mistakenly thought that was her day off) and wouldn't be able to call off. Than she offered me a gift of such kindness it had me nearly in tears. She offered to drop her car off with me and get a ride from her husband to work!

I stuttered my way through the rest of the conversation with her words of kindness, selflessness and grace ringing in my ears. The sentence still echoing in my brain is when she said "I'm happy to help, I want Monkey to get better."

You see for the first time I have started being more proactive about informing people of our special family dynamics. This blog was just my first step. So I explained to my neighbor (who forever more shall be dubbed my AWESOME neighbor lady) the extent of Monkey's diagnosis. I've had conversations about Monkey's special challenges with his teacher, the lady who runs the after school program, and the pharmacist whose his special buddy. 

Instead of focusing on what is and has been going wrong. Instead of focusing on the disappointments yesterday's appointment brought I am CHOOSING to focus on AWESOME neighbor lady's kindness.

Our journey towards healing and growing stronger has just begun. But I can choose the path I take, the path I lead my family down.
And no matter how heavy our load and light our pockets kindness and love will help carry us along the way.

Please don't forget to show yourself and others a little bit of kindness. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Blame Game

All parents do it (come on admit it you do). If I had only listened when he said he didn't feel good instead of him dragging to that family party, he wouldn't have puked all over Aunt Petunia. If I had done A instead of B than C wouldn't have happened. I should have done this instead of that, blah, blah, blah, blame, blame, blame, SHAME.

It is because we are VERY aware of the importance of our role in our child's life. We who are entrusted with these precious little lives full of limitless potential, dependent on us to mold and guide. We are the potters, knitters, weavers of the most impressive piece of art we will ever create, a human being. A person who will in turn shape and create other works of art one day. That is the definition of a BFD!!! (For all of you who like to keep it clean just translate that to Big Furry Deal.) 

It can take on a nasty tone, a destructive, anxious, shaming tone if you let it. And who hasn't let it get out of hand a time or two, blaming yourself for everything that has gone wrong for or with your child? I will be the first to stand up and admit I have painted myself with a scarlet B for Bad. As in I am a BAD PARENT! 

Okay, to be honest, I often have called myself worthless, stupid, crappy, shitty and a lot of other unflattering adjectives too. When my son got kicked out of his first preschool for his behaviors.And again when he got kicked out of his private school kindergarten (where they LOVE to take your money but apparently it wasn't enough moolah to deal with my RAD kid). The time he told the cops that his then daycare provider was beating the kids with a spoon (despite no evidence of this having ever happened). Not only was he kicked out of there but the woman decided I was trying to persecute her and a year later when I had to help her at my job she tried getting me in trouble by claiming I was "out to get her". When I have bought (and wasted money on) thousands of dollars of toys, clothes, and other belongings that he's destroyed for no reason. When I have heard lie after lie, about anything and everything. Such as the time he got mad and ran away but told the cop who picked him up that he had only went exploring and got lost. I knew it was a complete bald-faced lie but the cop bought it hook, line and sinker. He comes home riding in the front seat of the cop car and got a high five from the officer before he went inside. The high five was AFTER the nice police man APOLOGIZED to him for not having a sticker or such to give him. Of course we were new to the area and the police soon learned better.

like every parent I know, have spent years teaching my son morals, manners and right from wrong. People compliment him all the time on his intelligence, vocabulary, and etiquette. But despite this he would rip holes in walls, kick those trying to help him, disrupt all his classes, steal whatever he could get his hands on (including his baby brother's medicine) and lie 98% of the time. Since about the age of two and half we have NEVER received back our deposit on any of the places we've lived due to his destructive ways.

You start to question every choice you've ever made regarding your child. Trying to find the cause, the reason your child is this way. But the center of it all is YOU. Did I not eat enough good food while I was pregnant? Did I make the wrong choice moving back home to be closer to family when he was nine months? Could he have done better if I had taken a different path?  What choice did I have? What did I miss?

I thought by having a name for this, something that we could identify as the "problem" would lessen the burden. My child is the way he is because he has RAD. Instead it compounded the blame and shame I have heaped upon myself. After all everything you read will tell you RAD is usually diagnosed in adopted children who's biological parents used drugs, were inattentive, etc. I was flummoxed by all that I read that says your child was broke by his biological family and now you the adoptive family need to help them. I AM my son's biological mother, I didn't (and don't) use 
drugs and my entire life has revolved around him since the day I found out I was pregnant. 

It took me all summer to finally realize that I couldn't blame myself for my son's disability. But it also took the help of my Teddy Bear Man for me to understand this truth. As he told me I could no more be blamed for our son's disability than if he developed cancer or some other serious illness. Our son is the way he is due to a combination of factors, most of which were out of my control. I did the best I could for him from the day the pregnancy test showed positive. Yes we lived through a lot his first few years of life and it crippled him emotionally in a way that most children and parents don't have to face. But that is because he internalized things in an unhealthy abnormal way. He didn't adapt as other children can and do. Our job now isn't to play the blame/shame game. It is to help our son learn to adapt in an emotionally healthy ways and grow. Sometimes, despite the dumb redneck he claims to be, Teddy Bear Man can be awfully sage.

So my question dear readers is anyone willing to admit what has them playing the Blame Game? How do you handle it? Or if you were able to stop playing that game, how did you finally kick the habit? 

Monday, September 2, 2013

RAD is not just a slang word anymore.

I was an 80's child, which means I grew up saying things like "awesome", "wicked", and "rad". But when I was a kid the term "rad" meant something was really cool. For example, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were totally rad! Please keep in mind I was my oldest child's age (nine) when this word was a part of my vocabulary. I stopped using the word along the same time many other early 9o's fads and fashions became passe. (Though I know there are still some embarrassing pictures from that time period floating around somewhere.)

But the word, as words sometimes do, changed with the times. Once upon a time your "gay" auntie just meant that your dad's sister was a very happy person. Now days it probably means your dad's sister is actually a drag queen and your uncle. And now days when the word "rad" appears in my vocabulary it doesn't mean really cool. And it is always capitalized R-A-D. This is because nowadays the word stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder.

The Mayo Clinic defines RAD as a rare but serious condition in which an infant or young kid doesn't establish healthy bonds with parents or caregivers.

So there you go, a concise and clinical explanation for the disorder that has devastated my family and hijacked my oldest child. But what the hell does that mean really? How rare? And what EXACTLY is their definition of serious? 

In my opinion they can take that nice clinical explanation and shove it up their six! Because the word serious doesn't even begin to accurately define how traumatizing, scary, rage inducing, stressful, overwhelming and painful this disorder is. Not just for the people living with this condition but for the people who live with them, love them, and are trying to help them.

We heard the term RAD used in this context for the first time this summer. After years of asking for help for my oldest child. Trying to explain to those who used the term brat or behavior problem for him that discipline and rules were not lacking in our house. As well as trying to convince others that the sweet, intellectual, and charming child they saw was not just misunderstood. No one it seemed could figure out how to help him or us. I would get almost daily calls from his school as his behaviour there spiraled out of control. I was politely informed by my otherwise agreeable boss that my constant emergencies were jeopardizing my ability to do my job. I had a hard time finding after school care or even just the occasional baby sitter. My self-esteem and mental health took a suicide dive from which neither has fully recovered. I spent money hand over fist dealing with the fallout from it all.

Like many others would I became fixated on finding an answer. And for some reason I thought by having a name for it would make things better. That getting a name would be the answer. After all when you can give something a name it makes it less scary, you can call it out. It's not the dark that you're afraid of per say but the zombies, werewolves, vampires, spiders, etc. etc.

So this summer we finally got a name for it. We drove 80+ miles to go to a child psychiatrist who told us "I think your son suffers from ADHD and RAD." The diagnosis of ADHD wasn't a surprise, as many tried to pin that label on him over the years. I'm still unsure about it myself, I don't fill it fits him. But RAD? What is RAD? Reactive Attachment Disorder? What the heck is that? No, I've never heard of it! To me the word rad is slang for cool. I haven't heard that word since I was ten!

It turns out that having a name for it, wasn't the answer I was looking for at all. It just lead to more questions; many, many more questions. And so I begin this journey looking for more answers. The most pressing of which is how can I help him, us, and our family?