Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stand-up parenting?

I'm losing friends.

This isn't an oddity in life, especially not in the life of a RAD mom. Nearly any mom you talk to will tell you that people drift off...the craziness of life can push people away. They don't understand and that always present "make mom look crazy" notion - works very often.

But, it didn't really happen that way here. My friends were crazy supportive. They would listen to my stories - which I generally told in a comical way. I guess I don't know another way to tell someone that my child has peed all over the house. I always said that I laughed, so I didn't cry. Not the healthiest attitude, but it got me through. Now, I think that it kept me an audience as well.

Since we made the decision to actually DO something - to choose a place for pursue it and to follow through. This is when the drop off came. Apparently, it was better for me to turn our foibles into a stand up routine then to be honest about the fact that we couldn't do it right. I know I had said it before "wow, we kinda stink at this"..."I don't think my healing powers are working with this one"...always with a sly grin.

I guess the grin covered up that I was truthfully failing with him. So, our lives have calmed a bit and I actually feel like I can breathe - and all this when folks have decided that I'm not someone they want to hang with. I guess I'm now the bad person who 'sent her kid away'. They ask how he's doing...but they don't seem to hear the answers.

On that front: He seems very happy when we speak to him - and YEAH - we get to talk to him today. He has emailed (I'm so proud of him for remembering to do that) and we have plenty of folks sending him mail to supplement our weekly load. Overall he seems to be figuring it out and that was one of the main goals. We have to look at this as what may be deemed "what it will be like when he's all grown up". And, if this is it...we're good.

He's healthy, safe and doing well. He's passing all his classes and even says that some are "way easy"...he's making LOTS of friends and it seems he choosing the ones that don't get him in trouble - a very important skill. He's PROUD of himself. I'm proud of him, but somehow I know that the first part is more important. He talks about what he's doing with pride - even if he's discussing taking out the trash. He knows he truthfully doing it on his own. It is not because Mom is standing there telling him to do it. He seems calm. AND...the best part for our view of the future - he still likes talking to us. He talks to us more now then he did living here...he seems happy to hear our voices and get our letters and emails. He looks forward to things we're doing when he comes home. He almost seems to miss us.

DD went to summer camp this week. She held true to form. I've been in too many situations where the adult looks like they can't wait for my kiddo to leave (and I'm throwing all three of my kids in this basket). Her counselor was VERY sweet and had, thankfully, really read my parent survey (describing DD) and had taken it to heart. She asked me some questions for clarification and as always, I kept saying "I hope this makes me look crazy at the end of the week...I hope that she does NONE of these things." Hope didn't quite work this time around.

Her week was a solid C. The counselor seemed to handle everything as well as you can handle it when you aren't in the trenches. DD spent a good part of her time creating drama and being sure to let everyone know that I am a very mean mom and would be VERY mad at her for X, Y or Z. My comment to 'not spend all $40 on junk food at the camp store' became "My mom will be so mad if I buy candy or ice cream, she said I couldn't have any money for that stuff". Once convinced it was ok to buy a little something - she then spent the day begging her counselor to "NOT TELL MY MOM" as though her life depended on it.

Sweet little blonde, just north of teenager, counselor was telling me these stories and working in the better stuff around the edges. I think she had a long week. DD cried about a lost flashlight (which she had put away already)...and I don't mean a little cry...but a long, drawn out hissy fit it seems and Blondie dealt with it by saying 'you can stay here and cry about this or you can come with us and have fun'. That would have worked if my DD had chosen to go have fun. But, that just isn't her. I don't think Blondie could actually leave her in the cabin, so the whole cabin had to stay back and help her find the flashlight (the one that I bought at the dollar store and even told her so because I didn't care if it came back...yes, that one). I'm sure that endeared her to the group!

The few days alone with DS1 was good...although he would say that I am picking on him. He's a bit snitty and getting called on it. He likes it better when there is someone else to take that attention, when he can just lurk around the edges. But, this week, he had the spotlight. We did some fun things together and some things that he probably didn't find quite as fun (deep cleaning a teen boy's room anyone?)!

And on and on it goes...I'm ready for a day of nothing and maybe then I'll sit around and try to think of my next stand up routine.


  1. M, You know that you are doing what you think is best for your son. It is exhausting to have to try and defend and justify that over and over and over again. It if often so much easier for RAD kids to succeed when NOT in a family environment.. the intimacy of family is just overwhelming for them. I am watching your boy's experience closely and hoping that someday, this could be a solution for my girl, too. Keep swimming, girl. xoxo

  2. I will gleefully hang out with you anytime. Hmmn wonder what I can do to truly show me who my friends are?! What a blessing in disguise? Remember RAD isnt "normal" and most folks cant comprehend it let alone emphathize if theyve never seen it in action.
    You nailed it when you said that family life is too intimate.My situation has proved over & over (30 yrs now!)She works better when I live "our" lives the way SHE would want. Hence taking emotion & affection on HER terms, re-adjusting my expectations. To her she is just leading her life NOT trying to wreck mine! <---- Read this part again ok and now again!!!
    Once I realized that the battle was truly HERS (sad but reality)I could stand back & try to support her the way a friend would. Being a mom & having to live up to all the glorious virtues we are supposed to exude at ALL times (despite the challenges are kids) face is ridiculous. I took upon myself the role of concerned but detatched therapist. I guided & encouraged. I didnt judge at relapses. I appropriately downplayed all victories & accomplishments, acknowledging them but resisting the urge to throw a party & make a banner saying "GO YOU!!!!"
    Within weeks after she graduated high school she came up pregnant (like she had talked about doing for a solid year)um.. yeah. the irony was ... I was pregnent too.We parted ways at that point(at my husbands insistence)
    but it was the most amazing turning point of our lives. She went on to have the baby ( and another for good measure) and rose to the occasion almost immediately. For once she was left to her own devices and I could honestly see "my input" being used in her daily life.(who knew?) Organization? check. Responsibility? check. maturity ? In the bag!!! It was like night & day once we left her to figure things out her way (by "left" I mean of course we paid for everything,got her an apt, watched her like a hawk!!)
    It was as if all she ever wanted was to be "left alone" the pressure of trying to please me was gone the strain it took for her to buy into "family" life" was dropped & she was in control. JUST LIKE SHE ALWAYS WANTED. <worth repeating outloud. just sayin!!
    whew! I say all this because there is light at the end of the tunnel. I go out on a limb here (so far all my friends want to hang with me!! ;)
    and say "IT'S FOR THE BEST" YOu have done right by him. Bringing him from far away to be in a place that he can thrive. Isnt that what parenting is all about? Im not saying all your problems are sloved and you can just sit back & move on. Quite the contrary but Im hoping as was in my case that you & he both find that there certainly is a MIDDLE GROUND. Where needs are being met & peace restored to the house. Breathe & let go of the huge weight of guilt & self doubt. One small step towards his new independence & your sanity.One day you will have all new material for your stand up routine (which I LOVE) and the cool thing is he will be laughing too...