29 October 2010

Apology accepted, kid

Mimi started taking a very very small dose of Pr*zac two weeks ago. I think we are starting to see the effects, here and there. She finished her homework last night -- I was able to talk her through a difficult spot and help her understand the concept without a gigantic meltdown, which has been a rare thing this school year. She seems more cheerful. She has slept through the night in her own bed at least twice this week.

But she also is extremely excitable and distracted, even more so than usual. I have to ask her five or six times to put her shoes on or turn off the tv or settle down so that we can sit down to dinner. Getting ready for school in the mornings has been a nightmare this entire week. Boo feeds off Mimi and copies everything she does, so there have been several mornings where I have dragged both girls out of the house, screaming, teeth and hair unbrushed, to deliver them to school 15 minutes late and arrive at work half-an-hour late myself.

She's not on any sort of ADHD med right now. We stopped all meds about a month ago to see if her anxiety level diminished. It did, a little bit, but not as much as the psychiatrist would have liked. So, the anti-depressant, which has been shown to be effective in small doses for anxiety in kids. But we didn't want to start any other meds at the same time, because we needed to be able to judge how this was working. She goes back for follow-up on Monday and I guess we will discuss all of this then and decide if she needs yet another medicine, or, you know, just some restraints. (Kidding.) (Sort of.)

I don't mean to imply that life with Mimi is always difficult, or always about her history of trauma. My lovely girl has a whole lot going for her and many qualities that make her lovable and fun to be around. At least half of my parenting with her is fairly, well, "normal" (whatever that is) -- did you brush your teeth, how was school, no, you can't have ice cream for breakfast, I love you too, no you can't have chocolate before dinner, thank you for helping set the table, stop bugging your sister, give me a hug, have a good day, listen to your teacher/dad/grandma. Etc. I don't think constantly about her adoption, and her life before that. Often, yes, but not all the damn time. More so lately, because it has clearly been on her mind more and she is definitely going through some processing of her history before she was adopted. And when she's processing, I know we are going to have a bad evening or night or following day.

The other morning the girls' dad came to take them to school so I could leave for work early. This did not happen, because the girls were being uncooperative screaming banshees, and I was frustrated and still needed to get ready for work myself. I made the poor decision to let M handle the getting-ready process so I could get ready myself. I got out of the shower and heard screaming. Poked my head out of the bathroom and saw Boo running around in her underwear, and Mimi eating breakfast in her pajamas. And M yelling at them both to hurry up. I got dressed and combed my hair and blow-dried and brushed my teeth and 20 minutes later, Mimi was still in her pjs, Boo was still in her underwear, and M was still yelling. I came into the living room to hear Mimi yell from the kitchen "I HATE THIS FAMILY! I HATE BEING IN THIS FAMILY! I WANT A DIFFERENT FAMILY! I AM GOING BACK TO CHINA!"

I've heard this before. I tend to take these outbursts with a grain of sale. Usually I say something like "Oooh, sorry to hear that. I would miss you if you went to China." It deflates her anger and makes her annoyed that I am not freaking out about her threats. M, however, doesn't always (or, to be honest, ever really) get that it's not personal, it's not really about hating us. It's just the only way she knows to express her frustrations and the way she knows will hurt us. It's the worst thing she can think of to say and every time she says it and I respond calmly and non-threateningly she feels that tiny bit more secure. M doesn't get this. He never has and I don't think he ever will. So he yelled something back at her like "Well I don't like this family very much right now EITHER."

Yeah, mature. I know. My point here is not to complain about M, although I could (that would be a whole other blog, with daily entries, footnotes, citations, etc.). It's to point out that despite Mimi's trauma, anger, rage, she feels safe enough at home with me to express it in words that have meaning and sense. She is processing her trauma and working through it and when calm is able to say things like "I bet my family in China misses me" and "Boo doesn't even have two moms. She just has one" (in tones of massive superiority) and "My brain is this way because this is how my mom and China made me." She's getting it. A little at a time, with lots of patience and discussion and moments of rage and everything else. If M could refrain from responding to her at a maturity level slightly lower than hers, we'd probably be making even more progress. Because she's starting to understand the things he says, too, and process them. And after she has outbursts, she is almost always sorry, and almost always apologize, unprompted. I can't say the same for M.

As we were leaving I calmly told M, "Don't come out in the mornings for a while." He snapped "I don't want to anyway." Later that night Mimi said to me "Dad doesn't want to come over because we weren't behaving." And I said, "well, Daddy and I both like when you girls listen to us and follow directions, and you definitely weren't doing that this morning. But it's not ok for Daddy to yell at you any more than it's ok for you to yell at us. And if he decides not to come see you then he's probably not making a good choice." We talk a lot about choices -- good, bad, difficult, etc. I want the kids to know they have control over some things (whether or not they lose tv privileges, for example, and if they choose to go to bed RIGHT NOW or in half an hour. Heh.)

Oh and the apology? Five minutes after her outburst, she said to me "I'm sorry I hate this family. I'm sorry I hate Dad." I started laughing. Tension diffused, just like that.


  1. Why are some adults harder to get to apologize than kids?

    Does the meds give her dizziness or headaches?
    I get them when starting new meds... Just might want to ask her.

  2. Bella and I are going thru the Dad not always making the right choices thing right now too. I admire what a good, patient Mom you are. I think I could take a lesson:)