Wednesday, December 01, 2010
When Grandma and Grandpa moved back down here ten years ago from Virginia, I had to quickly teach them not to even lovingly correct my children's obvious behavior flaws, when I noticed it was constant, and my parents were becoming frustrated with the contempt and lack of compliance.
They might as well have spent their fruitless time trying to train mice to be housebroken while speaking fluent French.
Not gonna happen.
Any attention works with oppositionally defiant children, particularly negative attention, and it takes years and years of therapy to even begin to turn that ship around.
I remember my father, in absolute frustration one day, while helping me clean out the guest bathroom, shocked at deliberate poop smears and feces filled tissue in the trashcan - more literally in the vicinity near the trash can - yelling in frustration, "Who DOES this?"
Well, some of my kids do.
Fortunately the majority do not.
Bart spoke of his utter despair at wondering if he'd made any sort of a difference, a feeling many of us live with 24-7, watching all of our best, heartfelt efforts and unbelievable sacrifices being constantly thwarted, and I completely share his feelings.
I have no PCAs, I take no breaks, I pour myself out over and over and over again, sometimes crying and literally sobbing in my room late at night, because I do so much for so many for so little progress to be seen anywhere.
It's why I crave silence and solitude, the only place I find any peace. I seriously understand how severe my own case of PTSD is now.
The immense frustration sometimes feels as if it's killing me from within, when kids deliberately wanna force me to be angry, for example, hitting someone right in front of me, or yanking a light fixture out of the ceiling, ripping up my treasured Sid Beam autographed baseball card, stealing what very, very little I own, or simply pushing me out of their way as if I were a stupid, bothersome rag doll.
In Atlanta yesterday, eating lunch with my daughter in a hole-in-the-wall El Salvadoran restaurant on the Buford Highway, knowng the food would be delicious, this same 21 year old explained slowly through her usual schizo-affective disorder fog, how much she appreciated me getting her all the mental health help I'd fought so hard for in her teenage years. The help she raged against, hating me then, lying about me, attacking police officers on three separate occasions, telling people I'd forced her to sleep in the doghouse that we even didn't own, sparking an investigation.
Dang, I was stunned. Grandma was with us to hear this, her own eyes widening in surprise.
That acknowledgement took 16 years.
She looked good, she's in school, she's trying, and sometimes that's the best I can hope for...ever.
I told her I was proud, hugged and kissed her goodbye when I left her in a squalid set of apartment buildings with broken windows, cars on cinder blocks, thugs everywhere, knowing she lives with 5 Guatemalans in a one bedroom dump, and my mom mumbling about code compliance. Section 8 would've been appalled.
Little kids running around in very warm weather, clearly tornado weather as a monster cold front was soon to hit, me wondering where was DFACS and why were these youngsters unattended in such bleak surroundings.
"I love you and I'm proud of you," I'd told her, as she walked away beaming, knowing we'd already made plans for next time to eat at a corner taqueria.
Grandma and I took a different way home, trying to beat the storm, driving down through downtown Atlanta and over through Druid Hills, near Emory University where I'd been born a hundred years ago, Grandma remarking on landmarks, and we stopped for Senior Citizen Discount Day at two different Goodwill stores, neither of us needing nor wanting anything, I just wanted to get Mom out of the house for the day.
Did I make ANY difference in my daughter's life?
Yeah, I did.
Now I know this because she told me, and she might be one of my most severely challenged children, that she can articulate her thoughts made for a pretty nice day, leaving me quite surprised overall.
One of my brothers has a singlewide trailer sitting on the sound somewhere in coastal North Carolina, "Honey," I'd told him, "Enjoy it now 'cause I don't know how you're ever gonna be able to get me off that couch someday," knowing I'm going to want to make up for lost time, the last 30 years of child raising turmoil that swamped me while the world passed me by.
What? Ronald Reagan's not still our president?