We downplay Christmas as it is, but with children who are attaching, even more so. Usually special occasions/events/holidays are a time when we just buckle down and ride the hurricane. Then, on the other side, we can have healing conversations.
This year has been different. It is just two days before "Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa's," and my kids from the hard places are more regulated than they were two weeks ago. So, we are doing lots and lots and LOTS of therapeutic stuff in the middle of the behaviors ... because ... well, we can! That is not the norm at all, but for whatever reason, they are regulated enough for this particular moment in time. So, you go with it!
Last week I confronted Rocky about a poor choice (unless, of course, you think clogging your RV park's public toilets with toilet paper is not a terribly negative thing to do). Poor guy. The only people at the park right now are middle aged people or grandparents ... and only two of them ever use the facilities when they want to spread out in a bigger shower ... and he had JUST been down to use the restrooms earlier and did not say a thing about there being wads of tp under his butt ... and everyone at the park which might use the restrooms were gone to work ... and, ya' know, contractors who work hard all week and own homes in other places, they're the kinda' people that shove extra toilet paper in the potties for fun. :)
But yes, he tried to blame it on the grandpa's and contract bosses. He BLEW UP. I did my best to help him. "Honey, your reaction is telling me you are needing to cover up something. Why don't you go do such-and-such until you're ready to talk." Much yelling and beating of the head and stomping of the feet and going to the field and then screaming at the mom and swearing he'd rather live with a person who beat him instead of me and plenty of accusations that I never believe anything he says ever and I expect him to be perfect.
Multiplied by a few hours.
By the time all was said and done, and he had returned from his flat-tire bicycle journey to "find a policeman and tell them what a bad mom you are!" ... he had earned 14 days of restriction.
The following day, my attaching daughter refused to spell. And then she refused to use a kind voice while we talked. Eventually she forgot that crying, screaming, yelling and throwing things all over the room would earn
My son had 14 days. My daughter had 11 days. He (after having one day of trying to do some payback) has spent the time working his TAIL off. He has been amazingly respectful. When we are talking about a poor choice or I'm questioning him on something, I will say, "Okay, before we start, why don't you take a deep breath, hold it and then let it out slowly." That kind of stuff. AND HE HAS BEEN DOING IT! Then, he can talk clearly. He has been able to confess to things and accept whatever correction comes with it, and move on. HE WANTED OFF RESTRICTION. We have a policy (much like prison) where you can earn time off for
And in nine days he knocked out 14 days of restriction.
He is so far along, he can be happy for himself. For the first time he is truly working hard on his anger issues and the whole transference thing.
I am so very happy for him.
Then, we have my slowly healing daughter. She is progressing, it just doesn't look as nice and shiny as her brother's efforts.
We keep peeling back her layers (I swear, this kid is the largest onion on the PLANET - we could win some serious fair ribbons with her). Yesterday we had a VERY difficult discussion for her. She knows that our home is organized in a way where any hurts she causes will always, always, always, always (did I mention ALWAYS?) result in the other person receiving something extra good. Again, she knows this. When she hurts Mom, she will either be doing an extra chore for mom, or giving a shoulder massage to Mom, or sending Mom out alone for dinner (paid for from my gal's allowance). It goes for everyone who is hurt in every situation.
However ... yesterday something clicked with me. My attaching daughter, even when she knows she loves us and she knows she can trust us, will still choose to be defiant/manipulative/controlling. The big lie which keeps playing over and over again in her head is, "If you do what they are asking - they win!" Of course, that lie also leads her to believe that if someone else wins anything, she must be the loser. Never mind logic on how those choices affect her privileges and life in general. It's very black and white for her. Do not do anything which might cause others to win.
That is the word she uses - "win." It's a contest.
So, last night, after she had once again used that word, I asked, "Do you realize that every time you make a bad choice, someone else wins?"
"You were lying earlier when you said you were ready to work quickly and correctly. You tried to hurt me. So, I asked you to hang out on your bed for an hour. And for one hour, I got a break from therapeutic parenting. Everyone just hung out. It was like a mini-vacation for me. Now, I love you and I love parenting you. So, when you're out here it's my job. It's what I do, and I gladly accept it. However, you do make it much easier for me every time I win a break from it."
Started to go through all of the other "wins" that people receive due to her purposeful choices. Kept using that word over and over again - "They win some of your allowance for doing your laundry when you refuse. They win extra computer time. They win a special treat when they have to endure listening to one of your fits." And on it went.
I worked very hard to keep my tone calm and loving because I knew what it was doing to her. She felt CORNERED. I very gently said, "I'm guessing you feel completely out of control right now." She agreed. "You don't want anyone else to ever win, and have been willing to lose things to make that happen. But you're just now realizing that all of that stuff is OTHER people winning ... and you are causing them to win something nice. So, if you are a family girl and you join us, we win (because we get YOU and YOU are great) and you win family time and extra privileges. If you push us away and try to control us, you lose ... but we still win. I'm guessing you've never looked at it that way before and you really, really, really don't like it."
Allowed her plenty of silence during this to process.
"So, have you come up with anything yet?"
"Well, if I were you, I'd be sitting there trying desperately to come up with SOME way you can hurt us but we cannot win." Her face told me that yes, in fact, that was exactly what she was doing. "I guess the craziest thing might be to just kill us all. Have you thought of that yet?"
Sheepish, embarrassed half-smile and a "Yessssss. But then you would all go to heaven and I would be in jail."
"FRICK! Do you think you'll be able to come up with ANYTHING?"
"I don't know!"
"Well, I do know that this has got to be stressing you out big time. Why don't you head back to your room and just hang out on your bed tonight. You have a lot to think about and work through. We'll talk more later."
Later we had a fun time together talking. When she is regulated she is a completely different child. Talked about admitting our wrongs and how difficult that is for every person on the planet. Also, how freeing it is and good it feels when others forgive us and we have the opportunity to say, "What can I do to make it right?" Discussed what it might look like one day when she chooses to do this with her family, and admit how now, in this new phase, it is all a choice, etc., etc., etc.
GREAT time together. And being the very prepared therapeutic mom that I am, I was not surprised at all that she has pretty much not left her room today. However, I also know she is the way she is today because of the extreme vulnerability she allowed herself yesterday. So, I will move forward (and enjoy my "win" of a break today!), and see where this takes her.
Very long post. I apologize. I really wish I could bottle some of our conversations before I forget to share. Hope this can be helpful to some.