Our youngest is a textbook RADish, waiting until the coast is clear, and then prowling through the house each night. Many fost-adopt families set up elaborate alarm systems or surveillance cameras, but we haven’t. Some nights we catch him, some nights we don’t. He usually steals things, but since he threatened one of his brothers that he was going to “slit his throat,” his therapist tells us to lock our bedroom doors when we retire for the evening. Last night hubby and I forgot.
On the rare occasion I actually snooze, I’m a ridiculously light sleeper. Around 11:30, I heard the doorknob turn ever so slightly, which jolted me awake as if the ceiling fell on me (which did happen once in an earthquake, but again, that’s a whole ‘nother story– I told you I got a million of ’em). I held my breath, and waited. After several minutes– so this kid can exercise a little patience when he really wants to!– the door cracked, and a sliver of light from the hallway modem appeared. After a couple more minutes, the door widened ever so slightly, so that the sliver became a soft beam. And so on. The room I’m in is dark enough that I can now see clearly into the hallway, yet, not a sign of the boy, as I’m watching the door slowly continue to open, apparently and spookily by itself.
I’m grasping. The only ghosts I really know are my older sister, who tragically left us too young from complications of multiple sclerosis, but let’s just say she’s not exactly the haunting type. The other is my dad, who, though he is the haunting type, I’m certain would not be able to be subtle about it, considering all the special effects one might have access to in the afterlife, which rules him out, too.
Just as I’m starting to freak, my Spidey sense detects movement along the floor. I suddenly realize my baby is performing a skillful belly crawl like that of a career soldier. I rise up like a specter myself and cry out, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” and the boy is on his feet in a millisecond and begins to stammer, “I had a nightmare! and I needed a hug!”
You mean like our current president needs a golf course? Tell me another one. I was SO mad. And clutching my heart to make sure it was still beating.
When this lad rages, he’s hit me, kicked me, sworn at me, told me he’s gonna kill me, and if you read this blog you know he’s thrown shit at me (the most impressive being Before Meds when he used to try to hurl furniture in my direction). But for some reason, this sneaking into our room bit felt like the biggest betrayal of all. May I just have a LITTLE sanctuary, please? A safe space?? Is that too much to ask? A body really needs to know deep down and for sure that when she is in her bedroom, in her Costco “world’s softest pajamas,” the taste of toothpaste still in her mouth, in her fucking canopy BED, that she is as safe as a babe in the womb.
But little man never knew that safety himself. He was assaulted in the womb by alcohol, street drugs, and god only knows what else. And what did baby RADish hear from that dark place? My bios heard my husband and I talking, laughing, making love, singing… while our RADishes most likely heard shouting, crashing, police sirens, hella weeping.
Of course, it took me hours of fretting to fall back to sleep, only to have a nightmare about his murdering me in my bed, Costco pajamas bloodied. Not to be a Debbie Downer or anything; I’m just telling you the truth, because why else write this blog if I’m not going to spill everything? This is my current reality, and sometimes it really sucks.
So this morning I am exhausted out of my mind, and I gotta admit: pretty damned grouchy. In a Mother of the Year Award moment (I’m being facetious), I angrily ripped his superhero comforter off of him, and demanded, “When are you going to tell me the truth about last night?!” Of course, he stuck to his story like a fallen senator. I don’t know what the hell else I was expecting. At breakfast, I gave an inspirational little speech, something like, “You are a liar and a thief and you have completely lost my trust. If you tell me the sky is BLUE today I will go to the window to see for myself,” yadda yadda yadda. Yep, Mother of the Year alright. Call the press.
After the gang piled into the car for work and school and bus stops, the house was quiet as stones. Too quiet, so I sat outside at the patio, feeling hungover though I wasn’t, still in the pajamas, leafing through the latest issue of “Lion’s Roar” (a Buddhism-lite rag I subscribed to in a moment of desperation for mindfulness, that I now page through mindlessly), drinking the strongest coffee I could stomach and puffing away on an “emergency cigarette” (my original pack has had to be replaced several times, so I don’t know that I can still call them “emergency” cigarettes, in good conscience), when I suddenly saw the words of our therapist clearly in a cartoon bubble over my sleep-deprived head:
“It’s neurological. He can’t help it.”
He. can’t. help. it.
Riiiight. Remember? That’s why he has a talk therapist and a play therapist and a psychiatrist and a caseworker and a 504 plan at school. Everyone is trying to help him get it, in spite of his neurological damage, which was not. his. fault. to. begin. with.
Then, as my dad used to say, I felt like two nickels.
I may not be able to trust my child while he heals from his early trauma, but I will continue to love him through it. This afternoon I will hug him and I will apologize for losing my shit,
but I’m still going to lock my door tonight, and every night.