With an arsenic chaser, please…..?

Day from hell.  No, from right PAST hell, and out the other side.

First, not sleeping. Not sleeping sends the fibromyalgia into Massive Overdrive. Add to that the entry of a weather front–definitely not a good sign. So we’re into the Vicodin first thing.

Good news flash! Our CYS worker has smoothed the way for a clean intake for the Captain’s foster care placement next week. Sigh of relief.

After I check that email, though,it’s off for a morning of defending survivors of domestic violence, helping out the local legal services agency, overloaded with 14 cases the same morning. Worried all morning that I won’t finish in time for my early afternoon meeting with the partial hospitalization team at the Captain’s current placement. Stress=more pain. Hurrah.

Settle all the cases I’m responsible for. Yay! Get home in time to even take Little Miss and Dr. Do-Bee-Doo to Mickey D’s for lunch on the way to Erie.

Meet with the team and the new doctor. Even the Cabana Boy can finally participate by phone, for the first time, which is good, because the Captain’s current living circumstances are at his insistence. I get worn out defending it. (Even if I have nothing else to offer instead; the Captain’s been through my entire repertoire already.)

Finish there, leaving feeling pretty positive for a change, and head to Erie County Farms for a grocery stock up before K and her family come next week. This is a crazy place, for those who don’t know it, where people mob the counters, sometimes steal food from each others’ carts, etc., but mid-afternoon halfway through the month is usually better. I leave Dr. D. with a list of cheese to get at the cheese counter and take Little Miss off to gather everything else, two tasks that usually take about the same amount of time.

We’re busy shopping, when we notice a stir among the store workers, who are rushing around looking for something. Or someone. Turns out they’re looking for the parent of the little boy who’s just had a seizure.

Oh, yes, Dr. D.

So we make our way over and check him out. He’s a little pale, but he looks ok. He had a couple of fainting spells several months ago at a comics convention with his dad, but dad hadn’t fed him first. This time was a little different. Some bystander called the ambulance, so while we were waiting for them, Little Miss was a little antsy, so I give her the number and list and ask her to wait for cheese. Like three feet from me.

Good enough.

Then the ambulance shows up, and the crew checks him out, and his vitals are fine. I explain we’re from out of town and I want to get him checked out at home. They’re fine with that. We sign some papers and then I turn around and Little Miss is gone.

Finally the lady at the cheese counter says, “Oh, I sent her back to the other cheese counter to get the fresh mozzarella.” 

OMG. I thought I’d die. I can’t leave Dr. D., in case he seizes again, and I can’t go look for her. I’m like…are you kidding? The cheese lady much have figured out I was freaking, because she came out and asked if she could go find her. (Granted, she looks old, she’s 5’4″, could be 14 or 15.) So I mention that she’s autistic, and the cheese lady says, “Oh, I thought so. I’ll be right back.”

She goes to look for her. But Little Miss, exercising the common sense she’s so gifted with, wanders back to the last place she saw us when she can’t find the cheese. Bless her! The cheese lady comes back with cheese in hand and we go to check out.

I send the boy to the car to rest and wait, making sure the last thing I say is “Leave the door open because the car is hot.” I check out and come to the car, which is all closed up and about 105 degrees inside. Banging my head on the van really doesn’t help (tho it does feel good when I stop…)

So we head home, calling the pediatrician en route, who wants to see him as soon as we’re back in town, of course. So we swing by there, and she sets an appointment at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for next week for an EEG, no pool or baths in the meantime so he doesn’t drown. I’m making the Cabana Boy take him. I’ve handled the whole Captain debacle, and I’m too damn overwhelmed working four jobs while he spends all his spare time on the computer. So this one’s his.

At least it was the day my delightful cleaning woman was here and the house was clean. And K’s coming next week. Otherwise I’d just go ahead and jam a stick in my eye or something. *sigh* Definitely more vicodin on the menu for the night…and a hope that tomorrow is a better day.

Coming down to the end

We’ve been traveling a rocky road with the Captain since mid-October of last year. His behavior reverted to that of a first or second grader and has been on a hellish cycle ever since. He’s been suspended from school several times, each infraction a little worse than the last, when he said one of his teachers should be shot.

Even at home, his behavior that we’ve worked to modify under the scheme the therapists gave us many years ago (under Parenting with Love and Logic), acknowledging that his birth mother had left him with reactive attachment issues, * has gone south. He’s surly, uncooperative, passive aggressive and sometimes outright aggressive.

We had a long conversation the other night, just the two of us, where I let him say everything he wanted to say, ask all the questions he wanted to ask (you want to know how many ways I can explain why Dad and I get to make the rules and he doesn’t? A lot.) and the bottom line, what we concluded at the end was his assertion that he was going to continue to ignore our rules until he proved to us that we had to respect him enough to let him do what he wanted.


Fortunately or unfortunately, I guess it depends how you look at it, the school misbehavior has gotten serious enough that they’re looking at alternatives for him. Their suggestion at the moment is to send him to a partial hospitalization program over the summer, with intensive therapy and med management to hopefully get him under control before we’re back in school again.

Informal discussion with some of our long-time therapists yielded the conclusion, however, that we’re not going to be able to get the serious help he needs without A) spending $10,000 out of our already stretched budget for RAD therapy when he’s determined not to change or B) waiting until he actually hurts someone, and letting the corrections department deal with it.

How could we be in this place?  No parent should be here. Not after providing the child with years of all the alphabets, good food, good health care, opportunities, encouragement…. it’s heart-breaking.

So, because at 14, children in this state can decline treatment, we wanted to make sure before we tried this summer program that the Captain knew we meant what we said. So I explained to him that we found this program to help him conform to basic expect human behavior for someone his age, and while he could opt out, it wouldn’t be what he wanted. If he doesn’t attend the program, I said, then he needs to pack a suitcase and call whatever relative he thinks will take him in. (Not many, based on our informal survey.) We can’t take the risk any more.

I hate having to choose between the children. But sometimes, I guess, you feel you have to save the ones you can.

* Yes and don’t start about how the DSM-whatever says you can’t be Aspie and have RAD. You clearly can.

When a parent’s not a parent

There may be some doubt as to who are the best people to have charge of children, but there can be no doubt that parents are the worst. ~George Bernard Shaw

This month I’ve got a whole run of cases where a parent’s rights may be involuntarily terminated. The purpose of the termination is to free up the children for adoption, some by stepparents, some by foster parents. It’s given me some thought about the nature of parenting, and the needs of children.

What society pictures as the perfect upbringing, I suppose, is that “Leave-it-to-Beaver” family, one mother, one father, 2.4 kids, and they stay together. I sure didn’t have that, and I imagine most people don’t. I lived with my parents till I was 7, my mother till I was 9, then my father and a ragged series of stepmothers. My girls lived with me all along, but experienced a couple of stepfathers and stepmothers over the years. Of course, that creates a whole passel of stepcousins and stepgrandparents and stepsiblings and…

Are more people in children’s lives a better way to go? In my foster care cases, parents were in some way considered inadequate to raise these children now living in foster homes. (For the most part these are not cases of physical abuse.) The foster parents want to adopt and keep the children. So the real parents will be legally excised and tossed aside. While I understand the children are “entitled to permanency,” as the law says, I’m not convinced that throwing their genetic heritage and families away is necessarily the way.

Same with the cases where a parent has really not stepped up to the plate, and a new spouse fills the bill much better.  I’ve done several of these recently. Most of them the child is old enough to voice an opinion and is firmly bonded to the stepparent. So maybe it works out. But it’s still pretty sad.

On the other hand, maybe Hillary Clinton is right. It does take a village to raise a child. We each have a role to play in making sure every child has the best shot at becoming a successful adult in the next generation. Those who are willing to pick up the load and carry it further should be encouraged. Those who have done all they can should be acknowledged. The collective eye should be on the ultimate goal.

The same is true of parenting our special needs children. Certainly we cannot do everything ourselves. Overreaching leads to debilitation of the parent’s ability to care for the child. We need to learn to let others in, to take respites, to share the load and seek out the help that will improve our children’s abilities to cope and learn. For some, that may mean passing the care of the children on to others who are better equipped to handle it. This shouldn’t be a shameful thing, but an honest acknowledgement, as I said earlier, that the parent has given their all. Surely a child can ask no more of a parent than the selfless choice of their child’s benefit over their own.

These are hard cases. The parent and child bond is one created by the fates, and a court seems a cold place to break that bond. Finding a way to create that village, where everyone could pull together and give what they could to support each child… maybe that would be the better way.

‘Attach’ed at the hip

So who remembers “Blossom” from back in the day?  The trendy little teen with all her hats? It seems that Mayim Bialik, the actress who played her, recently needed a makeover,  and will be unveiling her new look on What Not to Wear tonight.

What struck me about the brief interview above was her statement that she and her husband follow the ‘attachment parenting’ teachings of a Dr. Sears. They are apparently (gasp) “raising their boys without the help of a nanny or childcare.”

“It takes over your world,” she told People Magazine. “We’re always tired! But it’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”

Wondering what dubious professional would recommend that people use their own hands to care for their child, I had to go look this up.  Wikipedia says “According to attachment theory, a strong emotional bond with parents during childhood, also known as a secure attachment, is a precursor of secure, empathic relationships in adulthood.”  Well duh.

The article goes on to explain how:

Attachment parents seek to understand the biological and psychological needs of the children, and to avoid unrealistic expectations of child behavior. In setting boundaries and limits that are appropriate to the age of the child, attachment parenting takes into account the physical and psychological stage of development that the child is currently experiencing. In this way, parents may seek to avoid the frustration that occurs when they expect things beyond their child’s capability.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for avoiding frustration. But really? Really?

What’s the difference between that and parenting? What we all do every day. Taking into account what our child is experiencing in order to make them feel safe and secure.

I don’t know about you, but I think maybe I should call myself “Doctor” and get my shingle out there while people are tossing money. Here’s to those savvy enough to do the right thing. Salut.

Running out of time

How does it happen, every year? Summer starts when the kids get out of school and you have this huge vista before you, all the things you’re going to accomplish, both educational and just-for-fun, and the next day comes, and the next–and suddenly it’s August already and almost back to school! How does that happen?!

Not that we haven’t done anything. All three kids have dutifully gone off to camp daily since the second week in June (with its three-hour round trip driving), until the annual visit to Memaw’s house. We’ve had picnics, and put up the inflatable pool (okay, so it’s a little green at the moment from disuse, but it’ll get better next week after camp. And some algae stuff.). We’ve visited family and friends within a reasonable radius (Hey, Jen and Seb!), had a blast at motel pools on the way, hit the Erie zoo, we’ve seen movies and plays.

So now we hit the stretch and all those things we were going to do this summer to get everyone ready for school are sitting at the top of the downhill slide. Little Miss has a stack of papers her teacher sent home, as well as learning a typing program so she doesn’t have to face so much handwriting as she enters fourth grade. Ditto Boy is going to spend days with his dad learning how to do household things–hanging drywall, repairing broken items, changing the car’s oil–all designed to help with his self-esteem and self-confidence.

The Captain — well. Seventh grade. The Cabana Boy has a program of computer learning ready for him, and we’ve finally decided to put a computer in his room with Internet access (appropriately limited) so his thirst for trivia can be fed and maybe he’ll just learn something. Plus, he’ll have access to online communities of peers who may be easier to communicate with, less ready to judge. Over the last ten years, my closest friends have been those I’ve met online, not in real life; maybe that’s not such a bad way to go.

There are still movies we want to see, places to visit. Our museum membership in Pittsburgh gets us into half a dozen places free, and we want to take the kids downtown to gaze up in awe at the crystal palaces of the business world. Two major Irish festivals remain, featuring Gaelic Storm, who delights us all. We’re not quite ready for Cedar Point or King’s Island, but we might try Waldameer. Still haven’t made it to the beach. Or the park. Or the library. But we’re gonna! Sometime! Maybe about midnight on a Wednesday in a couple of weeks! Hurry up! Time’s a-wastin!


If you have any time left this summer, come visit the Parents Helping Parents Carnival, where there’s a lot of good advice and funny stories about the parenting life, and gain some perspective at the Carnival of Work-Life Balance.