That’s Spuds. Having all these animals drives me crazy a lot of the time, but they, especially the dogs, are good for his soul. They love him, and, I think, I hope, he loves them. Like, actually loves them.
With the German Shepherd getting so old, I find myself wondering how Spuds will handle The End. One dog, a rabbit, and a smattering of guinea pigs (wait . . . “smattering” sounds a little too close to “splattering” . . . the guinea pigs didn’t splatter their way to the other side, I promise) . . . where was I? Oh yeah, several animals have passed on since Spuds joined the family, and he was rather, disappointingly, dispassionate about each death.
It’s not that I want my children to be terribly, horribly sad; but sadness at the passing of a pet indicates an emotional bond had been formed, and I want him to have emotional bonds, even if, for now, it is only to the dogs; because being bonded to a dog enough to be sad when it dies is a start. It’s a measure of progress. It’s a rather morbid measure, I know, but it’s a measure nonetheless. There are no rules or scales for this kind of thing, I’m afraid. I’m not sure how much longer we have with good old Rude the Dog, but, yes, I hope my son is at least a little bit sad when the time comes, and I hope he continues to find joy in the unconditional adoration he receives from Wulfric.
Tonight at bedtime, Spuds, who has a cold, came to me and said, “Mom, we should get a deluminator.”
“You mean like the one Quinn has?” I asked, because Quinn does, in fact, have a deluminator which turns a little lantern off and on.”
“Yeah,” said Spuds, “but a real one. ”
“Ummm . . . a real one?” I asked tentatively and with a little surprise. I thought the boy already knew those things aren’t real (in the sense that they don’t work on any and every light built by mankind).
“You know,” he said. “A real one. Not one that’s like a cow or a lizard or anything.”
“You want a deluminator but not a cow deluminator?” I asked in complete confusion. “I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve never seen, let alone heard of, a cow deluminator.”
The mind boggles. What would be the purpose of a cow deluminator? For the love . . . please don’t tell me it would be to turn cows on (and off, obviously). I mean, I used to know someone who collected bull semen for a living, so maybe it would have come in handy in his line of work, but that seems like a lot of magical inventing for a very limited use, no? Anyway, back to the conversation . . .
“You know,” he persisted. “Like the one we took out of Quinn’s room when we were cleaning it”
At this point we were walking up the stairs toward the boys’ bedrooms.
“We took a cow deluminator out of Quinn’s room??? I really don’t know what you’re talking . . .”
And there, at the top of the stairs, was the trusty husband waiting for us next to:
“Do you mean the cow humidifier?”
“Oh, yeah. That’s what I meant!”
Thank the stars! Because I did not want my kid asking Santa for a magical device that does nothing more and nothing less than get our bovine population’s hopes up only to profoundly disappoint them moments later, over and over, with the flick of a switch. We live in the country. We buy local beef. I’m thinking that would have to affect the meat in some way.
Tewt the Newt would like to clarify that he is not a lizard.
Since I haven’t blogged much for a long time, it seems like, based on the most recent several posts, that this blog is all about Spuds. I’m not going to help change that perception today, unfortunately. I mean, we’ll get there. There is more to talk about than Spuds. Just not today.
About a week ago, give or take, I took spuds to see an energy kinesiologist, or, you know, voodoo shaman for short. No, seriously, this practitioner we saw is a friend of ours and has been for years. After extensive training and gradually taking on clients, he recently quit his career as an IT guy to practice kinesiology full time. I know, I know, it seems weird. I get that. But when you have a kid with all kinds of emotions just plugged up inside him that intermittently explode out all over the place, and he doesn’t want to talk about any of it, and really doesn’t have enough life experience, let alone good, functional life experience, to put it all of his trauma into some kind of usable context? Why not. Just. Why. Not?
Trying to explain this stuff to other adults is hard enough. Trying to explain where I was going to take him and what the purpose was to a nine-year-old???? At first I told him we were going to see an energy therapist, but then the wild look in his eyes made me realize that was a poor choice of words. Spuds hates therapists. So I back peddled and told him therapist was the wrong way to describe it and that he wouldn’t even really have to talk. The confusion was all over his face. Finally, I told him that our friend is like Aang from Avatar the Last Airbender, but that he’s an emotion bender, not an air bender. For good measure, McH, who, deep down in his very soul is pretty sure I’m a quack for even trying what he is pretty sure is quackery, told Spuds that it would be kind of like Po learning how to be a Chi Master in Kung Fu Panda III.
Yes, I am pretty sure that, at this very moment, arcade game developers are updating the old Whack-a-Mole games to Whack-a-Doo games. You will be able to bop our likenesses on the head for a quarter if you’re fast enough.
So I took Spuds for the two recommended sessions. At the end of the last session, the friend/practitioner told me that it isn’t uncommon for an uptick in the negative behaviors as things work out and re-regulate, but that it was also possible to just see the rages disappear. I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING because, I’ll be honest, I thought it, too: He pretty much covered all his bases there. No matter what happens, he told me it was to be expected. So the next day, when Spuds had a total meltdown, well, what could I say?
The thing is, I’d seen this meltdown coming for days. The Husband saw it, too. Heck, even my mother, who has never experienced one of these episodes, saw it coming while we were there visiting. I hoped it wouldn’t happen until McH was back from Utah and the rest of us were back from our appointment-riddled road trip, but it was not to be. On the whole, however, it was shorter and much less intense than usual, so I thought, “Hey, maybe the emotion bending helped a bit.”
But the real story in all of this [What? she’s written this much and hasn’t gotten to the REAL story? I’m going to need more coffee and maybe a time machine if she really wants me to keep reading] happened the next day.
We were back home and in desperate need of milk (according to my kids) (none of whom have actually used any of that milk that is still sitting, factory sealed, in my fridge), so Spuds and I went to the grocery store. As we were walking past the pre-packaged frozen foods section (on our way to the Ezekiel bread), Spuds saw some lasagna or something and said, “I’m an Italian guy!”
“You’re Italian?” I asked.
“I’m an Italian food guy,” he explained. “I’m not actually Italian. I don’t think.”
“Well,” I ventured, “we don’t know anything about your biological father, so I guess it’s possible that you could be part Italian. Maybe someday we’ll get some DNA testing done and find out if you want?”
He liked that idea. And then? The proverbial floodgates opened. I mean, not like the Hoover Dam floodgates or anything. Probably more like a little dam built by small children that is falling down from the force of the tiny brook running through somebody’s backyard or something. But for Spuds, the conversation that followed was flood gates opening. He talked about some of his life experiences in a way he never has before. There was no reticence or reluctance. There was eye contact. It was casual and comfortable (for us, anyway — can’t speak for the other shoppers who overheard it). When the conversation got interrupted by the need to get something off a shelf, he picked it back up on his own with, “Let’s see . . . where were we? Oh, yeah, the ear piercing . . . ” and went from there.
There was a coherence to his narrative that has never been there before, and he was able to give me a timeline to some things that he had never been able to give me before. It was all just a jumbled mess of random events in his mind until that conversation in the grocery store.
So, yes, there we were, walking up and down aisles, waiting in the checkout line, etc. talking about his biological mother, what “biological” even means in the context of parents (even though he’s heard this before, he somehow never got it), police cars, being taken away, how his birth mom “did it” with “every guy she knew” (his words, not mine), who he was actually living with vs. who he was literally with when the police showed up, and whether or not he feels safe with us and why. I was asking questions, he was asking questions, and did I mention the eye contact? This was huge . . . YUGE! (shudder).
I don’t pretend to believe that everything is magically over and done with and we now have a perfectly healthy child, thankyouvermuch. I know that’s not the case. However, I also know that we had a breakthrough in the frozen foods section on Monday, and it lasted clear through to the checkout.
Was it the energy kinesiology or coincidence? I’m leaning strongly toward the energy kinesiolody, but, as a friend said, “Either way, it’s God.”
I don’t know why it took so long, but today we found out that L~ got a 5 on the AP English exam she took last spring. My English major/mom heart is happy.
Shortly after getting this news, I was shopping at Costco with the 13-year-old, almost-12-year-old, and the two nine-year-olds. You all know I deserve a massage and a medal now, right? Because I do. Anyway, as I was pushing around the cart laden with, among many, many other things, 160lbs of dog food (who needs Crossfit when you’ve got about 250 lbs worth of dogs at home?) we saw this:
and my almost-12-year-old son said, “That’s from Macbeth! ‘Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.'”
My heart almost exploded. But only almost because, you know, somebody had to pay for and drive all those canine comestibles home. At any rate, I’m feeling a little more excited about starting our homeschool year next week.
Today there was lots of hiking, some frisbee and football throwing, and some rolling down a hill on campus.
There was a little necessary and unnecessary on-campus shopping (the football and frisbee throwing commenced with dad on the quad while the female contingent shopped), and a lunch which involved only one relative. After all that, there was swimming.
“Hey mom, I was good today!” Spuds said proudly right before the boys went swimming while the girls did a little more shopping.
“Yes,” I responded enthusiastically, “you were great!”
Today was a good day. Tomorrow is move-in day for A~. I hope it isn’t another trigger for Spuds. It sure will be for me.
We knew taking Spuds on a long trip this early could be a huge trigger. We knew visiting with family and friends along the way could be a huge trigger. Let’s face it, the last time his last family took him to a park to meet new “friends” he met us. The last time they took him on a trip, it was to meet us. Trips + new people = trigger. We knew that was possible, even likely; but what could we do? We couldn’t leave him behind. And? He’s been doing so, so well that I think we were overly optimistic about how the whole things would go.
So far, he’s had six major meltdowns. Four of them were today. Of the six meltdowns, I have held him through one of them and my saintly husband has held him through the rest. Anybody who has a traumatized child understands that “holding” that child through a meltdown can feel more like a wrestling match. It is exhausting both physically and emotionally.
McH is just plain beat after today. He held Spuds through four very public meltdowns: Temple Square in Salt Lake City, City Creek Mall (x2), and Bed Bath and Beyond. He was so unbelievably calm and good with Spuds through all four episodes, even when the BB&B manager kept coming back to check on him and kept sending employees back to check on him. I understand they want to make sure a child isn’t being abused in their store. I understand they want to make sure their merchandise isn’t being destroyed. I understand they don’t want other customers to be scared away. But? The husband and the kid were sitting on the floor, tucked away in a corner of the clearance bedding, and there weren’t that many customers in the store (we were shopping about 45 minutes away from the university to avoid the college crowds). After a couple flybys with no evidence of child abuse, maybe just leave a man to restrain his child for everyone’s safety in peace, you know? The comforters will be just fine.
Anyway, the husband is exhausted. The now quite happy kid isn’t. The surprising thing to me? I am exhausted. I am exhausted because we were with friends all day — friends we only get to see if we are visiting Utah — and so, while my husband was doing the hard work, I was pretending like everything was okay. Just a normal day with a hurt child. It’s okay, nothing to see here, I’m not embarrassed, everything will be fine, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty that we are doing things that are triggering him or that my husband is bearing the brunt of it all right now. I didn’t know what else to do.
Just to be clear, I’m not exhausted because of the friends (oh how I wish we all still lived close together), I’m exhausted because of the acting. I don’t know how actors can do what they do and not loose it. Maybe that’s why so many of them wind up in rehab or Scientology.
Ha! I joke. I really know nothing about Scientology except the weird stuff I hear; but how many people know nothing about my church except for the weird stuff they hear, and how much of that weird stuff is just not true or taken totally out of context? So I try to keep an open mind about other “weird” religions, but I digress.
Everything wasn’t okay. It wasn’t a normal day with our hurt child. I wasn’t okay. There was a screaming, kicking, scratching, trying-to-bite child to see. I actually wasn’t embarrassed, believe it or not. I worry that everything won’t be fine, or that it will get much worse for a long time before it gets better. I feel immensely guilty that we have put Spuds in this situation that is triggering him and that my husband has been dealing with it all while I pretend everything is ok.
But I don’t know what our options are or were. We couldn’t leave Spuds at home with grandparents while we trekked west. What message would that have sent? We can’t not shop while we are here, because A~ needs stuff, and we couldn’t buy it all ahead of time and haul it across the country because, with six kids in the car, space is limited. I suppose we could have been total hermits and not visited any family or friends while we are here . . . but? I don’t know. Maybe we should have just been hermits. Maybe we have screwed up royally. I hope we haven’t. I hope that this will help him learn that he can trust us to not give him away to new people. I mean, I know this one trip won’t do it, but hopefully it will be the beginning of a foundation of some kind. Hopefully, somewhere in that scared and vulnerable psyche of his, he will remember all the conversations I’ve had with him about meeting new people and how we wouldn’t send him away with any of those people, and then he will see that we didn’t, and then, maybe, a little tiny corner of his subconscious will start to think, “Maybe these people will be trustworthy, maybe.”
So many maybes.
At one point, during the last tantrum, he yelled at McH, “You all hate me and you want to get rid of me!” or something like that. Oh, how wrong he is. He has no reason to think we aren’t shopping him around. I know this. It breaks my heart. I hope someday he stops just hearing me say that we want him and love him and actually feels those words. In the past he was told that he wouldn’t be allowed to stay with his family if his behavior didn’t improve. I keep telling him we’ll love him no matter what. I can’t wait until he believes me, deep down in his heart believes me.
This evening, since we’ve been back at the hotel, he’s been fine. No more meltdowns. I took him out in the hallway for a little chat away from the other kids and, once again, reassured him that he is going home with us and staying home with us. He doesn’t like having these little chats where I ask him how he’s feeling and reassure him that we love him. He doesn’t like to talk about anything that involves any kind of introspection or feeling. On the up side, the chat did not lead to another meltdown (they never have before, so I felt pretty confident about chatting again). It did lead to an apology to his dad. Sure, I suggested it, but he agreed that he needed to do it. The apology was semi-mumbled and delivered quickly, lest he should accidentally feel something in the process, but he did it.
I joked today about moving to Utah so that we could live closer to our good friends out here. Spuds immediately piped up, “No! No, I don’t want to live here. I want to live in Canada South!”
Leaving A~ behind is going to come too soon, but getting Spuds home can’t come soon enough.
Tewt the Newt will not permit any more road trips for a long, long, very long time.
Today has been a day of lasts. It is A~’s last day at home. We had our last family dinner with her (I barely sat down). She babysat the youngers for the last time while I ran errands. And now, as I am throwing in the towel for the night and figuring we’ll get out the door in the morning whenever we manage to get out the door, as I am having one last cry in my bed before we take her away, I hear music slightly blaring from the basement as my three daughters have one last sisters’ “party” together. That should make me happy. I wish I had room in my heart to feel all of the positive emotions I should be feeling right now.
They are spending time together and enjoying it.
A~ is going to the university she has always wanted to attend, it is a competitive school, and she has a full-tuition academic scholarship.
She is getting out of the small town she loathes.
She will finally be among people like her.
What mother wouldn’t be thrilled over all of that? I am thrilled for her, really I am. But I am so steeped in grief that I can’t even feel it. I know I’m being dramatic. She’s alive, she’s healthy, she’s moving on as she should. Yet my heart is exploding with the loss.
We leave tomorrow, but we still have a week and a day with her before we leave her. I try to console myself with that, but if I’ve learned anything in the past seven days, it’s that a week goes by way too quickly.
My older friends who have been through this already tell me that, contrary to what one might think, it doesn’t get easier with each child. Five more to go after this one. I can’t even imagine going through this five more times.
There I am, being all dramatic again with my first world, successful kid problems. I can’t help it. It hurts. I’m a mom.