I don’t want to fall into the habit of whining…it’s too easy…and yet it seems to be my go-to place lately. I hate that.
But…I had a rough day with my Li’l Rosebug yesterday. Even though she is flying through the schoolwork, it’s not for lack of arguing and fighting with me every step of the way. It seems to be her knee-jerk response. The key (I think) is for me to not engage. But it’s very difficult.
Bob and I are 95% certain she has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Of course, we aren’t professionals or anything, but we have been learning a lot about it, and out of a list of 20 symptoms she has 19 of them to some degree.
The key to this problem is that WE (her and I especially) need to bond, but she is fighting the process tooth-and-nail. I think this is because she identifies me with her birth-mom, who has let her down, and betrayed her so colossally. Consequently, the closer I try to get to her, the meaner she becomes. I fall into the trap of taking it personal and getting frustrated, angry, sad, and hurt. I KNOW I shouldn’t, but it is hard not to take it personally when she is trying so hard to make it personal. My gut response is to pull back and close off, rather than give her attention and fight with her, but she resents that, too. And, in the end, we get more negative attention seeking behaviors, including but not limited to snarky, disrespectful retorts, whining and temper tantrums.
The really sad thing is that she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand where her anger is coming from. She doesn’t understand that directing all that anger towards me is causing me to pull back even though I understand what she needs most is closeness. But I am human, too, and it is sometimes difficult to hug a porcupine.
Last night she picked out her outfit for today. A good thing. But when I noticed she had put it in the bathroom, I asked her (nicely) if she could leave her clothes in her room until morning, because I take my shower at night and there isn’t room for her clothes and mine on our non-existent bathroom counter. Later, when I went to go take my shower, I noticed she had taken them out of the bathroom last night. Kudos to her!
However, this morning she couldn’t find them. She stormed out into the room where I was folding laundry, glared at me, and said “I can’t find my clothes!” In a very accusatory and angry way. I suggested that they were on the table in her room, or perhaps she had put them back in the closed. She gave me that snarky tone of voice and snarled “No! I already looked there!”
Have you ever seen a scared horse where the whites of his eyes are showing? I didn’t say anything as I happened to come in to put her clean clothes in her closet and she was picking her outfit out of her dirty laundry.
She guiltily blurted out “I didnt put them there!” with that scared horse look in her eye.
I responded, not angrily, but probably not as nicely as I could have, “That is ridiculous because no one was here but Bob and I and we did not put your clean clothes in the dirty clothes.”
“Bindi was here!”
Bindi is our dog. I can assure you that, while she does like to snort and snuffle my dirty socks and carry them off to the back office, she is not that talented.
Obviously not ALL of our relationship is like this. We definitely have some good, close times, but I think we are adjusting to having the responsibility of homeschool. She is now doing schoolwork in a place where she is held accountable for everything she does and is supposed to do. Unlike public school, where she got away with playing dumb and pretending to be incapable of doing most anything.. I take homeschooling seriously, and she would really rather not…
I think that whenever the road gets tough, rather than trying to work with me, she puts up those emotional barriers and blankets them in anger.