Thank heavens, we happened to already have an appointment set up with the younger lads’ therapist yesterday afternoon. Well, it was really for our older RADish, but when I told her what went down, she readily agreed to switch them around and see our little guy instead (and then big brother on Wednesday). I could have kissed her.
One of the most frustrating yet typical symptoms of reactive attachment disorder is the child’s inability to connect their choices to the consequences of those choices. During the sessions, as usual, his therapist keeps trying to help him connect the dots; e.g., if you choose behavior A, you will naturally reap consequence B. However, this makes about as much sense to a RADish as his wanting something to drink and being handed a bar of soap. She knows this, of course, but– ever the optimist– insists that with consistency, one of these days he just might have his Helen Keller at the water pump moment.
I recall an afternoon our older RADish, around 12 or 13 at the time, came back from a friend’s house to find we weren’t home. (We had needed to run some quick errands in the city.) Even though his older brothers told him where we were, he went into a full-blown panic attack, convinced we would never return. Our bios, conversely, don’t fret over such things. You see, when our older lads were mere bundles mewling for milk, we fed them; when their diapers were soiled, we changed them; when they cried, we cradled them to our hearts, and made up silly songs to sing to them. I remember resting library books on my giant middle to read Dr. Seuss to them in the womb, for crying out loud. Our older lads formed secure attachments to my husband and me in their infancy/toddlerhood; they knew we were good eggs who could be trusted to take care of them. But that wasn’t so with our adopted fellows. At such tender ages, we were their zillionth foster care placement. “Caretakers,” many of them utterly. batshit. crazy. came and went and blew it, over and over and over. Worst of all, their own biological parents could not see to even their most basic needs: the ultimate rejection. So today they often push leprous us away. Cozying up to the likes of us is just too damned risky.
Getting back to the bios, as they grew into sturdy little Pinocchios, they were not confused by receiving consequences to their actions. I’m not saying they enjoyed paying for the broken window, or whatever, but they understood why they had to. For contrast, we have often found youngest RADish, weapon in hand, wounded kid writhing on the ground directly in front of him, incredulous that we took away the light saber or Nerf gun or baseball bat (yes, it’s happened) and put him in time-out, and not just incredulous but angry as a bull in the ring. His first response is usually, “I didn’t do it!” followed by abject rage. As a matter of fact, before his psychiatrist found just the right medication combination, the ensuing tantrums could go on for hours. (I mean it, and today I have an irksome little twitch in my right eye to prove it.)
Anyhow, little man was unusually quiet on the ride home from therapy, so we put on the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” one of his favorite songs, and sweet Ringo droned on while I happily daydreamed of whooping it up with the fab four on an underwater craft… and before I knew it youngest RADish was plopping himself down at the kitchen table to read a book while munching on chicken that has curiously been molded into dinosaur shapes in the hopes that picky kids will want to eat it. (My husband and I are on a plant-based diet, but we don’t even go there with the kids; our adopted guys’ eating disorders are for a whole other post.) Anyway he was being just so, so weird and withdrawn, I went over and began to very gently rub those bony little shoulders (when he’s in the mood, he actually likes a good back rub or back scratch, which is hella progress). I ventured, “Do you like that, Hon? Do you want a back rub?” to which he nodded his cute blonde head.
Hold the phone!– I just gotta interrupt this to ask: do you have any idea how difficult it is to give a loving back rub to a little tyrant who called you an effing B and threw shit at you that very morning?!
Well, do you?!
Let me just say: IT IS FUCKING HARD,
IT IS ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT THINGS EVER,
but I DO IT because
HE IS MY KID
AND, NO MATTER WHAT,
I love him.
And with that I’m all worn out.
Thanks for listening.