Thursday, January 26, 2012

Two Years Home

I debated quite a while about posting what yesterday was really like or skipping this post altogether. I had decided to skip it instead of writing a negative post. But then I decided to just say it like it is. Because it wasn't all bad. But that's only because my facebook friends gave me good advice.

We did not tell the twins it was the two year anniversary of their homecoming until last night. When they get privileges or extra attention they feel empowered and that often results in serious bullying and hurting others. I wish I understood why that happens, but for now I just know it does. It's the same reason I can't eat with Kaleb at school anymore. Last time he had that, "I'm better than you because my mom brought me lunch" attitude and he hurt children.
I had planned to make the celebration very special, but when I picked the twins up I was so disappointed to learn that Kayla had to pull not one or two tags for defiance and hurting others, but FIVE! Earlier this week she told another child she was going to kill her. That did not go over well at all. If she makes a threat like that again she will be suspended or expelled. She can be very sweet and helpful and also very defiant and downright mean. Obviously time for a conference.

It's been this way for two weeks now. She told me she was really good on the morning bus. I gave her a star on her home chart for that (that's how we determine rewards and privileges for the week). But then this morning when Jessica walked them to the bus, the driver told her Kayla was very sassy and defiant all the way to school yesterday. So the star comes back off the chart. Don't know what to do about the lie. Kaleb is having a pretty good week other than eating his lunch on the bus and then telling the lunch ladies we wouldn't give him breakfast so he had too. Thankfully they asked Kayla if that was true, and she told them he'd had hot oatmeal, a banana and milk. We talked to Kaleb about how saying something like that can get you removed from your home. Those of you who have been foster parents know how true that is. Now his backpack has to stay up front with the driver. Kayla had done the eating her lunch and then telling people she didn't have a lunch routine early in the year. She knew if she convinced them, she'd get a hot lunch. But once they figured her out, that stopped, and she had to eat whatever she had left of her lunch. Both of them now take their lunch in a stapled brown bag so at least the teacher can see it's been opened. (We don't do hotlunch because of cost and because they instantly bond to whoever gives them food and we don't need an unhealthy attachment to lunch line ladies based on food.)

It was very tempting to skip celebrating their homecoming, but we didn't. We told Kayla that we were celebrating her and her being with us two years, but we were not celebrating the behaviors we've been seeing lately. We watched a video of our last trip to visit them in Haiti which was just a few weeks before the earthquake. We watched their homecoming and their first couple days at home so they could see how much they'd learned and grown. So the evening ended well.

I know we are going through a difficult time behavior wise with Kayla, but hopefully she will soon decide that having privileges and activities is more fun than missing out. We've told her that when she is so defiant and ugly to others, her heart is all junked up and she can't feel very good about herself but that obedience brings peacefulness to her life. I don't know if she's able to understand that. I think she did. Now the decision is hers. She's been to a few counseling sessions and she's not feeling trauma from anything that happened previously or a sense of loss. So we don't really know where this is coming from.

If you have walked this road, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a more cheerful post.


One Crowded House said...

I think that just because she can't put into words why she does things (either to you or to a counselor) doesn't mean those behaviors aren't related to things in the past. Many things were just learned (survival) behavior, and may take years to undo. For her to trust that you will love her regardless, that you aren't just another temporary home for her, that she is safe, and will always have the things she needs to survive.
I don't think it is because you are doing anything wrong parenting wise. I just think we have to be as consistent as possible and retell the same truths over and over until one day they understand.

I know God has to get onto me multiple times about some of my bad behaviors (example, gossip) before I get it through my thick skull. Our kids are sinners just like us.

Hang in there, I think you are doing the right things.

Hevel Cohen said...

I have alked this path... as the child of parents with similar privilege/loss of privilege mentality. My continous losses of privileges reinforced that that I was bad, and really the grace I was taught about that saved was a non-existant concept for me, because I always saw the consequences and never the grace. Because it was reinforced that I was bad, it just resulted in giving up after a while.

Hurt children are good about hiding the hurt, especially at a young age, and as smeone who went through language loss I know it wasn't until well into my teens when I actually had the skills to articulate the trauma and loss.

Kathy C. said...

Thank you for those thoughts OCH and Hevel.

Not every privilege is based on behavior. For instance, they have tumbling class each week, good week or bad, with an exception of where I did not think it would be healthy for anyone for them to go. They get read to and can play board games or ping pong. But for instance, some of us are going to a movie this weekend. If I can't trust your behavior in other situations, you aren't going. That helps with the kids who are behaving too because it gives them a break from the others and lets them see that I've noticed their good behaviors.

To avoid someone feeling like they can never do anything, I tell them exactly how to fix the situation and it starts over each week.

I do think it's important for them to realize that they aren't bad, but they are making poor choices for themselves at the time and I tell them that. Also that I know they are capable of making good choices for themselves.

Last night was a bit of grace for Kayla because with hurting children at school and being openly defiant to her teacher, my first thought was to send her to bed, but I allowed her to have the pizza and watch the movie of her homecoming and reinforced verbally that she is a welcomed part of our family.

Whether or not that will make a difference, we'll see.

Karen said...

Kathy, so many possible issues in this situation which I have not personally experienced. I believe the Lord want us to do our best, get help-when needed, and give love both when actions are good and loving discipline when bad. Well, that's all I know. Blessings***

Kathy C. said...

Hevel- I would welcome creative parenting ideas that have worked for you.

Kathy C. said...

Thank you Karen.