We Are The Lovings

Well, not always, but we try!

The Incomprehensible

on September 28, 2013

Let me start by saying I would lay my life down for my kids.  I think any mother would.  I love them, even on days I don’t like them very much.  As you may know, my daughter has many emotional and physiological issues stemming from mild FAS or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  In 2011,  we had her tested by a world renown expert in children adopted from Eastern Europe.  His findings were both a shock and a relief.  I never dreamed it would be FAS.  She does not have the classic facial features associated the condition, although I can see some very minor things in her face.  Relief because we had SOMETHING.  We were not crazy.  It had been a LONG few years for us as a family from 2006 – 2011.

Speech delay was just the tip of the iceberg.  Grace is wired differently than any other person I have ever met.  I’m not exaggerating.  I spent years blaming myself for not being able to affect change in her.  I’m not a good enough mother.  My own mother, Grace’s biggest champion, once told me I was not cut out to be a mother.  (Thanks, Mom.)  I thought she was right.  At least the diagnosis gave us somewhere to start.  But FAS is not a condition in itself.  It is a name for the cause of the associated issues.  It is different for every child based on when in her pregnancy the mother drank but also how much.  For Grace, FAS covered Auditory and VIsual Processing Disorders, Anxiety, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, fine motor skills deficiency, speech delay and articulation issues, and in her parents opinion, a world view like none other.  Seriously.

I am going into all of this because we have spent thousands on therapy to understand her and how to parent her effectively.  Five therapists.  Five.  Traditional play therapy was a joke.  She went to play and took nothing away from the session.  We have tried probably every parenting approach there is.  Some things would work for a couple of weeks, then it wouldn’t work.  On to the next thing.  Frustrating?  You bet.  Maddening?  Absolutely!  Feeding my belief that I sucked at parenting?  Sadly, yes.

Finally, out of utter frustration, I called another family therapy practice.  I was extremely specific about the kind of therapist I wanted.  Strong personality.  Able to go toe to toe with her.  No soft sell.  Direct, to the point.  No letting Grace get away with crap.  And God sent us an awesome therapist.  She has insight into Grace, after only about 8 months, that no one has ever even come close to.  She gets her.  Grace is not a linear thinker.  She is very literal and black and white but not linear.  Grace is not able to apply learning from one situation to another.  (Hence, I often refer to my life to as “Groundhog Day” – if you haven’t seen the movie, look it up.  Very applicable).

Recently, we have had another revelation that answers so many questions.  Grace has a very hard time taking direction from my husband and I.  Ask her to do something and she does not give you excuses, she simply indicates that she is doing something else.  There is never an “okay”, or even whining.  Not even a “no”.  Simply non compliance.  Makes.  Me.  Nuts.  She will never say “yes, sir or ma’am” to us or defer any respect for us.  She will tell us what she is doing instead of asking permission.  Many times we have no idea where she has gone when she goes out to play.  I have an idea but we are not informed of where she is going.  I have to ask.  Apparently, we don’t need to know.  She gets angry when I ask or will pitch a fit if I am interrupting something she is doing>  (Heaven forbid, we interrupt “Big Time Rush”!!)  Most of all, she seems bewildered when we get angry and frustrated with her.  She does not get it.  Let me just mention here that these situations come up many, many times a day.  Constant arguing, frustration about everything.  EVERYTHING.  Now, you might think that this is deliberate defiant behavior.  For a very long time, we believed that as well.  It is, in a way but in reality, the therapist believes, Grace considers herself our equal.  Wha?  I’ve never even heard of that in a child.  In her mind, the family unit is Mom, Dad and Grace as the adults and Lucas, the child.  I must say I was dumbfounded.  How do you parent a child who does not see themselves as a child?  It does answer a great many questions, especially why we cannot affect behavior change in her.  This isn’t deliberate on her part, it is how she is wired.  It is part of her world view, her thought process.  But dealing with this every single day wears us out and frankly, it is easy to forget it isn’t deliberate.

Now what??  Well, that is where we are now.  Our therapist has worked with domestic abuse cases, kids on the verge of being kicked out and becoming part of the system, all kinds of disorders, the toughest kind.  I’m confident that we can move forward, however, slowly.  As I said, Grace is not a linear thinker.  We go 4 steps forward and 3 back, or sideways or up.  When I can step away from my parenting hat, it really is fascinating.  Grace is extremely intelligent but not very emotionally mature.  Life will never be easy for her.  She won’t be one of those kids for whom things come easy.

I’m not entirely sure my reason for sharing all this.  I guess, I need to get it out.  I have an amazing support system of friends both for me and those who love Grace.  Adults get her, peers, not so much.  I am so grateful God has sent us so many wonderful people.  I’ve often felt as though I was a complainer or just so negative all the time.  I don’t mean to be.  I’m just so very tired.  I understand better what we are dealing with, even if I can’t change it…right now.  I love her.  She can be wonderful, sweet, helpful and smart.  Just not every day.  Pray for me!

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