When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

April 25, 2010

Sheep & Wool Festival (Clermont, NY, April 24, 2010)

April 25, 2010.  Peter is upstairs in his room writing 20 times “the truth is I did pee my pants” because Pat and I are trying to curb his recent habitual lying.   At Sophie’s swim banquet last night, where the kids received trophies and danced with frenetic joy under a strobe light, I spoke to a few friends about our recent troubles.  One woman in particular commented on how well Peter was handling the party, which was true.  He found a soccer buddy, and ignoring the celebration, they played chase in a wonderfully typical boy fashion.  Knowing full well that Peter would tantrum either later that night or today, I commented that despite appearances, we would pay for the evening later.  Taking Peter to the banquet knowing the consequences ahead was an unavoidable necessity because Pat’s out of town and we have no babysitters except Lindy, who wasn’t available.  But last night was a little different.  Last night I paid the price  immediately.  As soon as I gave a five-minute warning that it was time to leave, Peter started flailing around like a hungover athlete warming up for a game.  I gave him a stern but relatively calm rebuke to settle down.  When the 5 minutes were up, Grandma, who was proud to come along to honor Sophie’s achievement, took the rear and I took the lead, sandwiching Peter between us.  Luckily I caught what happened next out of the corner of my eye and as I turned my head, I heard Grandma, who’ll be 85 in two weeks, grumble in an eerily deep, earthy voice, “Peter!  Don’t you dare!”  With fist tight and his arm pulled back for maximum impact, he had been about to take a swing at me, really for no reason.  I get him composed outside and do my best to ignore what happened during the drive home. When we walk in the house, I ask whether he’s dry because Peter has backtracked of late.  He looks me squarely in the eye, something he rarely does when telling the truth, and assures me he’s dry.  When I ask him to remove his Pullup so I can check, he hands me an undeniably full diaper and smiles gleefully, “I’m dry, Mom!”  He knew he was wet, of course, but after what happened at the banquet coupled with our lingering attachment struggles, his baser instincts prevailed.  Because he has taken a renewed interest in lying of late, he knows he will be made to write out the truth any number of times in the morning.  Despite their cognitive challenges, kids with attachment problems, and FAS in particular, often prove proficient liars and Peter is no exception, going in and out of lying cycles with a regularity that rivals in predictability the phases of the moon.  Unfortunately, he’s in one now.  He lies convincingly about things big and small.  Whether by example or through testing her limits, Sophie’s been doing her fair share of lying lately too.  So both kids receive the same punishment when they get caught in a purposeful lie.  This morning, Peter gets to work and after 45 minutes I check and see he’s written, only four times, “The trof is I bib pee my pans.”  There is no spacing between the words, each “s” is backwards, and he can’t manage to stay on the line.  I remind him to use his “common words” list and point out the errors that he needs to correct before moving on.  I don’t relish making Peter do this on a Sunday morning, especially after the over-excitement of last night’s banquet, but if I don’t, he’ll interpret the decision as weakness on my part and carte blanche to continue the unwanted behavior.  History has taught us this the hard way.  Consequences must be immediate and consistently applied, no exceptions.  We’ve had such a pleasant, fun-filled few days until last night.  Not a bad run, really, and what happened was predictable, except for the almost slugging me part, which is scary and worrisome for the future.   I hope Peter finishes soon so we can resume our happy spirits and move forward.  A steady, cool drizzle has replaced yesterday’s warm sun, making it a perfect day for the movies or a few rounds of bowling.  I also have an art project in mind if Peter proves together enough to participate.  Tomorrow the kids go back to school and Pat arrives home close to midnight from his trip to California.  It’s good to know I can still handle Peter on my own for an extended period of time, even in the midst of our epic battle with the school.  And really, except for one sizable bump, the three of us have managed just fine.

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  1. Mary, you know this is where our paths diverge. I know we parent our children differently, even though they have similar issues. The way I see it, the reason he got dysregulated is that you brought him someplace that he couldn’t handle. Should you punish him for acting out as a result of that dysregulation? I fully understand the need to occasionally bring him someplace that will be too much, completely understand that. BUT I don’t understand how he is responsible for his actions as a result of this. But that’s just me…feel free to ignore.

    Comment by Elizabeth — April 28, 2010 @ 10:28 pm | Reply

  2. Do you have Peter working with a psychologist? I’m sure you might have mentioned, but I regret that I do not remember reading in your blog posts. Although I know every child is different, I can say that at least one of my daughter’s counselors was very instrumental in getting through the concept of truth and lying. I don’t know if it took a complete stranger, the counselor, or what to get the concept across to my daughter. I am a big believer in the positive influence of play therapy with a counselor for these children. Talk therapy, at least with my kiddo, had the after affects of almost sometimes a hightened stress level. I’m not sure if it was from the overstimulation of direct questions from one counselor, or she just flat did not like the counselor as a person. I gave it a go, and let it go. There is no way I would want my child to continue with a counselor where she was not comfortable, possible ODD or not. So, if you haven’t located a counselor, please be sure Peter is happy with, as I know you would. I’ve really enjoyed your blog. It has really helped feeling as if I have an online advocate who knows quite a bit about what it’s like to parent a child from Russian orphanage. Thanks!

    Comment by Lori — April 29, 2010 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

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