Friday, November 14, 2014

Help Me Out

The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, 
but war was in his heart: 
his words were softer than oil, 
yet were they drawn sword.
Ps 55:21
~ First, this hilarious picture. 
I was trying to get them to stand back to back for a picture but they had their own ideas. Half an hour before someone had been doing a maternity shoot in this very location. The boys had been running around and it was not very apparent that they had been paying any attention, 
but Monkey See Monkey Do!

I am going to share a few scenarios of something that happens at our home multiple times a day. Nothing we have done has made a difference at all. It's exhausting.

Scene 1: 
School was cancelled for Missy yesterday because Montessori meets in the a part of the downtown museum and the museum was having all its hardwood floors refinished. The fumes were a good reason to cancel. Missy needed something to do so I asked her to clean the bathroom. She can do a very good job. Persistently teaching the kids to work has actually paid off. They can confidently do things about the house and yard pretty decently and they take pride in a job well done. Missy seemed fine with cleaning the bathroom. She accepted her task and went off. And then it started... She could not find a single container of cleaner, or a cloth to use in the whole house. I didn't say a lot. I'm used to the routine. I gave her suggestions here and there, but I honestly knew what it was about. After an hour of her "fruitlessly" searching upstairs and downstairs and through every cupboard fussing and complaining all the while,  I  went to the bathroom and the first door I opened revealed plenty of cleaner, but I could not see the comet. I acted as if a huge search party hadn't already happened and asked her to run downstairs and grab the comet. I didn't tell her where to look or anything. I figured after all her searching she would know where it was better than I did. She came back in 20 seconds, comet in hand.  It was all a stunt. I concluded her motive was that she was feeling lazy, and as kids are apt to do, she used up twice as much energy trying to figure out how to get out of the job as it took to clean the bathroom. Or at least that was my thought originally....

Scene 2:
When I had Missy work on her memory verse she suddenly could not read, she could not pronounce simple words no matter how hard I worked with her, and she could not remember all the little words like A, an, and, in, the AT ALL. The harder we worked the worse it became. She acted like she was totally happy to do it, but her brain would not cooperate. Nonsense! I'm quite familiar with that routine, also. She did not want to put forth effort and she worked three times harder than she needed to do the job to frustrate me. She enjoyed that. She didn't want to learn it - she never wants to learn anything from me. Was there more to it than just not wanting to learn?

Scene 3:
This scenario was from a different day, but it is a classic example of this behavior. I picked her up from school and as we are pulling out of the parking lot I asked her about her her day. She rarely offers any information. She just says it was fine. If I probe I get pat answers and often she will deny she did any reading.  She tried to have me believe for an entire month that her teacher does not ever have her read to her, that all her reading was done silently. Right! Anyway, this particular day she had nothing to say about her day, as usual, but then she remembered that tomorrow would be library day. "Oh mom, I need my library card. I don't know who took my library card! I looked everywhere and it's not in my backpack or anywhere!"  I suggested places to look and assured her that no one else would want her library card because it was in her name. I turned my head slightly and saw that all the while she was talking she was facing out the side window with her library card in her hand. When she saw that I noticed she gave me a triumphant grin. Sigh. Duped again. What is the purpose of this kind of exchange? She made no attempt to hide the library card while she made up the story. . . .

Scene 4:
Back to yesterday. After finishing her bowl of soup at lunch she asked if she could have something else to eat. I told her she could have a banana or an orange and packet of fig bars. I've been trying to teach her not to yell at me from across the room or house and call "mom, mom, mom, mom" over and over, so I have been using the same plan they use at school for consistency. She needs to come to me and talk with me not just shout. She's not interested in changing anything, of course, but when she wanted something else to eat she did come put her hand on my shoulder like they do at school and asked nicely. We were face to face, six inches apart. I clearly told her she could have a banana or an orange and a packet of fig bars. She acted like she didn't hear me. This is typical. I just said, "You heard me." So, she went and found a banana and then walked over to where the fig bars are kept. She came out with corn nuts and asked, "is this what you said?" I just shook my head. She went back and then the shouting began. "I can't find them. I don't see them anywhere!" She paced up and down the kitchen, but she never ever came up with a fig bar nor did she actually ask for help. I ignored the charade. It's all too familiar. I know that if I say what she is trying to get me to say it only gets worse. Eventually, she stopped shouting, and sat down and waited...( as if I was going to get up and get the fig bars for her! She did not ask, just sat and put on the silent pressure. This is an intense kind of battle that you could only know if you have experienced this. Mostly no actual words pass between her and I and yet the battle feels fierce).  I reminded her if she wanted a fig bar she could go get one, but after a certain amount of time I would be sending her to brush her teeth. When the time allotted passed I did send her out to brush her teeth. She fussed and fumed and cried that she was hungry. I just told her I didn't understand why she hadn't gotten the food offered if she was so hungry but it was time to brush her teeth. When I looked in the cupboard later I noticed that she had actually pulled the box of fig bars half way off the shelf and the box was ripped more than before.  IT was all an act.  This crazy charade had been more important to her than the treat. This from the kid who covets and LOVES food.

I could type scene after scene, some of them I get and some of them have me completely puzzled, but you get the drift. Can someone tell me the purpose of this behavior and how to turn it around? I'm so done with it. It's crazy making.

Their tongues are like deadly arrows;
they always tell lies.
With their mouths they speak friendly words to their neighbors,
but they are really setting traps for them.
Jeremiah 9:8

I know that most of the words out of that child's mouth are pure lies.  I don't like the idea that she is out to get me and is setting traps for me, but that is exactly what it feels like. So often she makes me out to be a fool. I want to be a good mom to her and give her the benefit of the doubt sometimes (not always, I'm usually pretty confident I know her game), but usually that backfires.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Teacher Conference and Coping with a Structure Resistant Child

We had James' parent teacher conference last evening. James is thriving with his teacher. She's the same teacher he had last year and she is really putting everything she's got into helping him succeed. He is making steady progress in everything. She gives him achievable goals to work towards.  She's moving him up one percent at a time. I know this sounds crazy, but I see how hard she is working and how much she is putting into him and it scares me for next year because no one is ever going to be able to do that for him again on that level. She has her own style and fights the system where she feels it would be a detriment to him. She knows what he is capable of and allows him to give her nothing less and really holds him accountable for that and even his behavior at home. It's making a huge difference. She suggested we should get a sleep study done on him.

We have a little foster baby. He arrived at 2 am yesterday. His case should move along quickly as this is not about abuse or neglect, but something outside of the child. I really don't know the story but mom was picked up Monday night and the baby had to go somewhere. She has been released and now has to go through the hoops to get her kiddo back. The SW is pushing for sooner than later, but the judge, or whoever must agree and go along with the plan.

The little guy is cute. He's 14 months old and gets into everything. He's funny and a copycat and very steady on his feet. He has a few words and a lot of teeth and he sleeps well. My house is a wreck. Drawers and cupboards had to be tied shut.

Steve is in Canada because of a family medical emergency. So far he has been able to prevent the hospital from discharging the family member way too soon in a  very dangerous situation. Patient advocacy is super important these days. You almost have to know all about your medical situation and terms and treatments so that you are not denied what is due.

I've gone back to making smoothies in the morning.  I tell the twins they can have a hot regular breakfast if they show up in the kitchen on time, but if they show up after 7 AM then they get a  smoothie because they can drink it fast and still be on time. Structure-Resistant-Missy's response when I remind her in the morning that she has a choice is to yell, "NO!!" which is basically letting me know that she doesn't want to be on time and she doesn't want the option that goes with being late. Well, don't we all, but that isn't how life works. We wake her up in the morning and then we let her do her morning however she wants to and whatever speed she sets herself on, because with that kid, if you push she pushes back hard. The consequences of her choices don't go away and she has to deal with it the best she can because, though we let her do her morning however she chooses, the expectations that certain things must be done before breakfast never change and she knows they are concrete. It's just up to her how she plans on getting that done. Her being late every morning feels like an attempt to push against me and the structure of our home and so we are trying hard to not push her  or offer any resistance personally to her manipulation. Fighting with an oppositional child like her can really make a person really, really frustrated if you are not careful. A funny thing is, she NEVER gets to school in pajamas, though she knows full well I would not have a problem with that if she chose not to get dressed.