*this is not a short post, but I know that giving all of the dialogue is the most helpful to other families - so, you've been warned*
Day #6 of the Attachment Challenge.
Yesterday was good, which means there will be regression. I knew it. I expected it. Was still surprised at how it played out.
My kid had a good day yesterday. Today, they woke up and continued to do well. Went to do chores with their sister, and for the second day in a row this sister came in exclaiming, "Wow - they did AMAZING!"
"Mom, is there anything I can do to work off more stuff?"
"Well, I noticed yesterday you picked up everything to vacuum, and then chose not to vacuum. I'm guessing you did that to get a consequence. That's exactly why we made that coping card. It can only help if you keep it with you. Do you have it?"
"K. Well, why don't you go get it. We'll read it together and have a do-over. You can vacuum today and make this right!"
Several minutes pass ....
"Mom, I can't find it."
"That's okay, honey. Take your time. I don't have anything to do right now. I'll wait." Angry face as they went back to their room. Several more minutes pass.
"Mom, it's down by the park bathrooms. I left it down there."
"By the tree by the bathrooms."
"K. Let's go get a dollar out of your room, so we can pay someone to go down there and get it for you."
Gave me a dollar. Now is not happy. I am amazingly VERY happy and completely regulated! YEAH for hormones leveling out!
"I'm gonna' make a guess that perhaps that card is not where you just said. Would that be a good guess?"
"Alright, well, why don't you give me another two dollars. I will hold them, and only pay them to the person looking if they have a really difficult time finding it. Would you like to give me more specific directions?" I was feeling really good today. They handed the dollars straight to me. I figured we were good to go. That's when they started to give me the "directions." It went something like this, "It's right by the tree at the wall, like by it, near the laundry room" voice getting LOUD, "It's THERE! I put it in the hole in the tree! IT'S BY THE BATHROOM! GIVE ME MY MONEY!" Loud, ear piercing SCREEEEEEEEEAM, followed by them trying to grab the dollars out of my hand and ripping all three of them in half in one fail swoop. Impressive.
I had it together, today, baby. This one was probably easier on me, because we didn't have the slow back-and-forth where I also end up escalating and engaging. I also knew it was all about her shame battling with all the feelings of "good" they have been having.
"Honey, I'm not upset with you. We just need to deal with the card situation, then we can move on."
My child had lost it at this point. Threw something. Packed up all of their money in a Slinky box. Said they were leaving.
I was thinking straight today. This was the shame game. They were going to do anything - ANYTHING to guarantee consequences. Pay back for feelings. We have this child set up in their own room so that they can do anything in there with zero consequences. If they bust a hole in the wall, no biggie - their wall. If they break stuff, no biggie - their stuff. I knew that this was the goal, so I very calmly closed her door. Then I sat down with my back against the door, to put myself in a vulnerable position (NOT towering over them in any way).
Over the next thirty minutes, there was much screaming and name calling.
The only time I said anything, it went like this:
"Leave me alone!" "I can't, baby. I love you too much."
After throwing a book against the wall just over my head, "I trust you, and I'm not going anywhere."
After smashing a porcelain doll that is VERY special to them against the wall near my head, "It's just a doll. You are more important to me than a doll or the very walls of our home or the window screen."
Speaking of window screen, after they knocked it out and was dangling their feet threatening to leave, "No matter what you do, I am always here for you. No. matter. what. I can't stop loving you."
At one point, they stood over me, holding a book over their head as if they would hit me, and yelling, "You and Mac - you LIE! YOU TELL LIES!" (ah! The two of us have complimented them the past two days at specific times) "I love you. I love you when you hug me and I'll love you if you hit me. I'll love you if you stay and I'll love you if you go. You don't have to be strong today, honey. I can have enough love for the both of us. I can believe and know that you are good for the both of us. You don't have to feel it today. Let me feel it for you."
No magical moment where it all just stopped. More flopping on the bed. Me waiting in silence. Them occasionally demanding money or telling me to go away or telling me to let them go (as they stood at a wide open window - but refused to go *wink*). Finally, some friends who were checking out of the park came walking up. They are good friends. I was able to say, "We're having therapy right now." They offered to hand me the window screen. I declined, and let them know my kid may still want to use it as their getaway.
Then another customer drove up.
That's when I did what I should have done at the very beginning. "Honey, walk with me while we get this guy settled." This child keeps their trauma for me. I should have mixed it up sooner, even if it meant offering to walk them out so they could run away - then offering to just take a walk with them. I don't know ... hind sight!
We spent a good 20 minutes playing Fruit Basket Turnover with a few rigs as they were all coming and going. On the way home, I put my arm around my child. They were soft and leaned into me.
So, we talked. We hugged. We went straight to their room and worked through the shame of all they had just done. We read through all of their cards together.
When it was time for lunch, they hugged me and said, "Mom, we already have in nine hugs today!"
Right - with all the crazy and the talking and the making up and the trying to help them succeed earlier today ... we had in nine by noon.
And absolutely, I hugged them again and thought, "Ten. DONE."
This is hard work. We are in a new phase, and battling all of the triggers that come with new parts of puberty. We are having to get back to "in the trenches" kind of therapeutic parenting for a time.
Oh, and did I mention this is HARD FRIGGIN WORK!?!? Someone mail me some vodka.