What a weekend! We started Saturday morning by attending a class on parenting children with trauma. We were really eager to take this class for obvious reasons (duh, we are actively parenting kids with trauma, LOL) but also because the class instructor is Donald’s therapist! I am hopeful that this 2 session class will give us some insight into HER views so we can better understand how her treatment with Donald might work. Ironically, we met another set of parents at the class that have a child that came from the same group home as Donald & Daffy. In fact, they were even there at the same time. I was really excited that the Mom gave me her business card so we can stay in touch. I LOVE having other foster/adoptive parent support. One thing I have learned is that EVERY warning we have been given about what to expect (from everyone from group home staff to other foster parents to social workers) has come true. I do not turn a deaf ear to ANY advise, comments or suggestions at this point! Anyway, the class was great (especially the hour lunch getaway with Mickey).
Daffy spent the day with a friend who has 2 girls. They went to AC Moore and did a free activity and a treasure hunt at the Disney store. (Thanks, Koupon Karen, for the great free weekend activities list each week!) They played at the mall. My friend texted me pics throughout the day telling me how well behaved Daffy was. I was so eager to get home and do some awesome bonding! Daffy had other plans. From the moment we picked her up, she was grumpy and unhappy. She was fixated on the idea that she should have the pet cat that our friend is trying to find a new home for. We have already discussed the fact that her behaviors with our current pets do not warrant adding another pet. She knows this and has previously accepted it, but for whatever reason could NOT move past it on Saturday. I spent about an hour chatting with her in her room trying to redirect her with discussion about other parts of her day. Everything was miserable. She hated the free gift from the Disney store. Puzzles are stupid. She hated the project at AC Moore because she had to have multi colored jelly beans instead of all yellow. She was generally argumentative. I reminded her that she needed to spend 30 minutes working on her state project so we headed downstairs together to the computer. She literally sat in front of the computer for ONE HOUR and did NOTHING. She did not add one city to the map. She did not take one note. She did not read one sentence from the web page about her state. Finally, I explained to her I could not give her any more of my time when she wasnt putting in any effort. As I walked away, she whined and cried and carried on. At that point, the rest of the family sat down to dinner. She refused to join us. I told her she could eat with us at the table or alone at the counter. She chose neither. She went to her room and slammed things around. I went up after dinner to talk to her and explain that it was now bed time. She refused to put on her pajamas. She refused to brush her teeth. She screamed and wailed about having missed dinner at her own choice. I told her that our conversation was not productive and that I was going to leave and check back in on her in 5 minutes. She couldnt deal with that. As soon as I left the room, I heard her screaming “I friggin hate this place!” and slamming and throwing things around. At some point during her meltdown, she kicked or punched a hole in the ceiling. I went in to talk to her and get a picture of the hole in the ceiling (probably poor timing on my part) and she started throwing things at me. I went downstairs, got a trash bag and started picking up all the things she threw. Clearly, this enraged her more. At that point, Mickey came in a little more clear headed (I was quite angered that she threw things AT me!) and try to talk to her. There was no rational conversation to be had. Eventually, he told her to go to bed. We agreed to leave the video monitor on and the light on in the hallway. She talked to herself for about 30 minutes muttering about how the group home would have handled things and about how a mother would have “held her hand” and “hugged her” during her rage. At one point (which is usual for both Donald and Daffy) she cried “I want my mom”, then paused and stated “I want my biological mom”. I actually saw that as a HUGE positive that she was still considering ME her “Mom” through her frustration and anger. She also was talking about how her brain felt all mushy. This is definitely something I am going to bring up to her therapist so they can discuss it further.
The next morning, she got up and expected that since SHE was over it, that everyone was over it. I made it very clear that I did not want to spend time with her that morning as I will still upset about the fact she had thrown things at me. Mickey asked her to write me a letter apologizing which she did. I read it and laughed… she wrote that she could not control her actions and that it wasnt her fault and that *I* had ruined her dream of having a kitten all her own. I reminded her that she has choices to her actions and told her the note was not an apology but rather a list of excuses. Mickey asked to write another letter later in the day. It reads “I’m sorry for what I did. I know it was wrong, but I guess I was not thinking then. I am really really sorry.
From: Love: Your sweetest now loving dauter” She drew a before and after picture, the before of us with our backs to eachother and broken hearts above our heads and the after with us hugging and hearts above our heads. She and I discussed the pictures and she said “We were mad but now we love eachother again” which gave me a great opportunity to say, “Daffy, even when I was mad in your before picture, I never stopped loving you!” We talked a little more last night at bedtime about the situation and how families differ from group homes. She seems to think this kind of acting out is okay as she has seen it from her brother and others in the group home. I explained that in our family, we do not throw things at each other or damage property. She suggested she needed time to cool down in the future and I reminded her that I had tried to do that by walking away and agreeing to check back in 5 minutes. She said she doesnt like to be alone, so I agreed in the future I will try staying without talking for that same length of time and we will see how things go.
The “alone” thing has been a HUGE theme lately. She mentioned to Mickey during her rage that Pluto and I had “abandoned her” when we walked away from the hour long unproductive homework session. I feel like the “alone” thing is what may have brought this on in the first place. As excited as she was to spend the day with friends, I get the feeling she thought that was “rest care” (as she calls respite) and feared that maybe she would be sent away next as the timeline with her brother leaving was the day after his respite care. I am really trying to inundate her with positive attention to avoid her negative feelings, but it doesnt seem like what I do is enough. This is another thing I am going to be sure to bring up to her therapist tomorrow. I know that the only way for her to truly feel safe & loved is with time, but if there are things I can be doing better NOW to help, I would like to do that. My friend also suggested that as we do start attaching, maybe this is the natural push and pull of that. I just dont know. Mickey and I talked for hours Saturday night trying to figure out the trigger and view things through a “trauma lens” as taught in the class that day. It feels like a giant mystery.
This morning, she was grumpy but able to get herself showered and ready for school. She is really excited about tonight because she has her first official Girl Scout meeting! She is even more thrilled that I am going with her!
In Donald news, during the massive blow up Saturday night, I snuck away to call him. He didnt answer. I called again. No answer. I realized the irony of the fact that he was clearly in a consequence at the group home at the exact same time Daffy was losing it here. Coincidence, I suppose, but strange all the same. I spoke to the group home yesterday and they told me that Saturday night the boys side received a special privilege to watch a movie. Donald didnt want to watch so he was told he could play instead. He wanted EVERYONE to play instead of watching the movie and he bagan melting down, including kicking a hole in the panel of a door. The worker I spoke with said he did ask about our phone call and was told that he would be able to talk to us the next night as they do not allow “make up” calls. I called last night exactly at 7pm. No answer. I called again. No answer. Apparently he had 2 bad nights in a row both resulting in a missed family call. I really feel like this is unfair. THEY made the choice to pull him off his meds so these behaviors are TOTALLY to be expected. I do support him being responsible for his behaviors, but blocking the love and attachment work of our family is not doing anyone any good.
Tomorrow is our monthly team meeting. I am very eager to see how things go as there are lots of questions to be answered and things to discuss. Among them:
- Visitation Plan for Donald
- Medication plan for Donald
- Med referral for Daffy for ADHD
- The role our sw plays when she only has one of the children on her case load
- Permanency plan for Daffy now that we are off the adoption track
Hopefully this will be a productive meeting where everyone can be heard, not just the few at the top that have their minds made up as to what this should look like.
[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]