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.


Kelly said...


That's what it is about.


I can't help you turn it around but I have seen it, lived it for the past 6 years and still live it every single day. Not as intense with J out of our home but even as much as D has healed she still does some of the craziest, mind blowing, attention seeking stunts to CONTROL.

They both used to do things exactly like you describe... to control ME.

Even though you and I both can blow it off and ignore the behavior we also both must admit they are still controlling us. Well, in all fairness.. I will speak for myself... the behavior controls my thoughts because I am wracking my brain trying to figure out their next move (so hopefully I can stay one step ahead) and a reason for the whole charade. I am also walking around in fear of how far the crazy will escalate before they stop with the screaming, whining and LYING. Even though my behavior appears to not be controlled by their crazy I am still being controlled and they are definitely smart enough to see right through me.

D is not as bad as she used to be but her newest thing is... to cause conflict between hubby and I. Her best stunts now are things she knows will drive hubby crazy but that I am used to and tend to ignore. This works hubby and I against each other and unfortunately, even though we both know exactly what she is doing we fall for it way to often. UGH

I wish I had some advice. I don't. But, you can know you are not alone. :(

Emily said...

I haven't had the same experiences as you are having with Missy, but I do have a child who lies more than she tells the truth. And she whines more than she speaks in her real voice. And she persistently picks on her siblings. Our wonderful psychiatrist gave us the tool of Capital I. Ignore. The whole family is learning to completely ignore Lexi when she pulls her monkey business. Completely ignore. We can't acknowledge her in any way, regardless of the behavior. She HATES this. She'll go over the top for a while, trying to get our attention. Eventually, she'll cave and make better choices. When she does, we jump to attention and help her right away. The point is to just let natural consequences play out. I don't know if it is helping. I'm skeptical that something so simple will make a difference, because she's pretty crafty, just like Missy. But at this point I'm willing to try. I don't know if it will help you either, but hey, it's worth offering.

Owlhaven said...

Been there. That's sooooo hard. What I've had the most success with is just disengaging from the conflict, act like you trust the child will do the right thing eventually, and offer to help (in a nurturing way) when/if she asks for help and struggles. Most likely the negative reaction is what she's seeking. If you're chill, most likely the behavior will diminish. (I KNOW how hard it is to be chill....hang in there!) And try not to get too freaked out about the lies. They're a symptom of a hurt heart... You of course don't have to believe them. But don't react either...

ErinL said...

Good old control. We have many issues with this. Pretending she doesn't hear me and wanting me to repeat myself....preferring if I get irritated too. Moving as slow as humanly possible to do a task asked of her. Like what she can do in 5 minutes she does in 30. This is usually in getting ready for bed and she loves it if I engage her. Then when it is all done she asks if she can play before bed. I, of course, have to tell her no because she spent all of that time getting ready and then I am the bad guy. Her tell tale control sign is a smirk. She knows full well what she is doing and she smirks when it brings her joy. Drives me up a wall. The other control things we get is stupid questions "Are you wearing a coat?", "Are these my pants?" "Is my name Oksana?" UGH! The term compassion fatigue was just brought to my attention. Look it up. I bet you can relate.

Annie said...

It sounds like control, for sure, and it seems to be so frustrating for everyone... Have you tried connecting, and talking about it?

I guess I think that the only way around this one is for her to begin to understand why she might be doing this, and for her to grow in trust.

My guess is that she is basically trusting you, and yet has this pattern of behavior as a self-defeating kind of habit based on things that are only in her implicit memory - but TRUE incidents that she LEARNED FROM - and this is what she in control; it is critical for your safety. Yet, she only has the urge to do this, not the understanding of why.

I'd try and help her with it, point out how difficult it must be for her to have to do this. Gently, kindly, lovingly. It IS hard for her, too....

Any chance of therapy? I think that TFCBT is intended for just this sort of thing. It's working pretty well for us, and I am getting closer to and understanding my A. better all the time.

acceptance with joy said...

Thank you to each of you that took the time to reply. I thought it was control, but after awhile I start to question everything and especially my parenting.