When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

March 27, 2010

Spring 2008

March 27, 2010.  I’m so proud of our boy.  Despite our being branded recently as child abusers because the school psychologist needs a psychologist to help her work on impulse control and self-regulation, Peter continues to amaze.  Yesterday he came home and threw a tantrum as soon as he walked in the door.  He jumped up and down, screamed, held his breath while his body trembled, and then launched himself against the wall until I physically made him stop.  None of this, of course, is amazing.  What’s amazing is that he was later able to tell us why.  On the heels of our accuser (as well as her enablers hovering in the wings) telling CPS that an additional reason they suspect child abuse is because we report substantially more negative home behaviors than they notice at school, Peter offers up an illuminating nugget of truth.  Yesterday was Pirate Day, which apparently involved balls and pool noodles being launched and thrown about.  Sounds fun for a typical group of third graders but not for Peter, who suffers from diagnosed and documented sensory issues.  He asks to leave but one of his teachers tells him to tough it out.  Two hours after the tantrum his mind is calm enough, and his body exhausted enough, to tell Lindy and me what happened.  “They were throwing balls at me.  I didn’t like it.  They slapped me with noodles.  It hurt.  They hit my privacy and my head.  I got scared.  I’m sorry I had a fit on you, Mom.”  A year ago he wouldn’t have been able to tell us why he fell apart, much less offer a teary, heartfelt apology.  We would have coped with the tantrum and tried our best to move on, without learning anything about what precipitated it.  But now he’s beginning to recognize what sets him off and he asked a teacher for help.  It’s an amazing breakthrough for Peter, evidence of a neural connection he’s previously never demonstrated.  Lindy and we have been working on this skill for years and payday has finally arrived.  Eureka!  I’m so proud of him.  He knows he’s done well and smiles from ear to ear, hopping and clapping his hands.  He’s proud too.  The acid rain on this otherwise sunny parade is the fact that we are desperate to teach him that we’re there to help – that adults can help – if he only finds the courage, focus and self-awareness to ask.  Unfortunately, he did ask but was ignored.  He internalized what to him was akin to physical assault, held the pain inside so his classmates wouldn’t see, and then expelled it like the poison it was as soon as he got home, where he felt safe.  There are so many important lessons here that it’s hard to tease them apart.  First and foremost, Peter is growing – emotionally, intellectually and in terms of trust and attachment.  Second, the school has shown us once again that its neither equipped nor inclined to meet his needs.  If these folks aren’t watching their Ps and Qs now, on the heels of our recent CPS fiasco, an event they surely appreciate has exposed them to numerous repercussions, how can we hold out hope that they can ever be rehabilitated?  And last?  Its time we start teaching Peter to recognize which adults in his life want to help and which do not.  Right now he thinks all adults are good and on his side.  But the sad truth is they’re not.  Some are downright dangerous, as recent events have showcased.  I don’t have the heart to discuss this today, though.  He’s happy and feeling good about his world.  Today he trusts, today he’s safe and we have the entire week off for Spring Break to heal, rest, play, and recover.  We have much to celebrate too.  Despite all our setbacks, despite all the recent heartache, sabotage and rancor, our son is doing well.  On most days he knows we love him, he knows we’re committed to protecting him, and he accepts, on some level, that the reason we push him is so he has a chance to reach his full potential.  Two years ago I couldn’t have said this.  Two years ago I couldn’t have fathomed that he’d be ready, developmentally, to listen to an explanation about the difference between helpful people and those who’ll turn their back on him; that if one adult in his life won’t help he needs to find another who will.  But it can wait.  Today we’re playing tennis, throwing the frisbee, maybe a little baseball, and then going with Grandma to the movies.



  1. The good days make the bad ones easier to bear don’t they?

    Comment by Sheila Greene — March 27, 2010 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  2. I am proud of him too! The fact that not everyone want to help him is something he has to learn and accept. There’s also the fact that not everyone accep the fact that he is different.

    Comment by MysteryStitcher — March 27, 2010 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  3. I think I’m proud of Peter too.

    Yay for Pirate Day!

    He thinks all adults are good and on his side? That’s a surprise! (And probably one of his self-preservation mechanisms, as well as ‘normal’ at his age and stage).

    (But it makes sense why you didn’t do it earlier: and it was so soon that he realised inside him, non-verbally, that it was his reality adults WOULDN’T be helpful/on his side).

    Have a great time with tennis, frisbees and the movies!

    Comment by Adelaide Dupont — March 27, 2010 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

  4. And you make a point about professionals needing to listen to their OWN supervision/advice when they are in their professional role.

    Comment by Adelaide Dupont — March 27, 2010 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

  5. Yay, Peter (and parents)!

    Comment by mary — March 27, 2010 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

  6. Oh. My. Goodness!! What a wonderful thing for Peter to be able to tell you about the balls & noodles! Our daughter’s teacher is also of the ‘tough-it-out’ group. I can’t tell you how many times I’d asked to have Gabby or ‘her bully’ moved but the teacher insisted ‘the bully’ is not ‘so bad’. (Daily telling my child she is stupid, she knows nothing or is dumb IS BAD in my book.) One day, Gabby was finally able to tell me everything ‘her bully’ tells her…it made me so mad & so sad. Some days I wish Gabby would throw one of her RAGES at the teacher while IN CLASS. Sure would change the teacher’s outlook…

    Congratulations to you & to Peter–what a big, brave boy.

    Comment by Laurel — March 27, 2010 @ 8:33 pm | Reply

  7. Wow Mary! I’ve read from 3/18 to here in amazement and sorrow for you and Pat and of course Peter (& Sophers). I know how much you turned your life upside down and inside out to get him into a school that seemed better able to help. what a disappointment and so horrible. he remains such a lucky boy, you are all doing the hard work to help him meet his potential and not just linger in a state of condoned disobedience based on a label. my admiration grows…hang in there and enjoy break! xo – jenny

    Comment by Jenny — March 28, 2010 @ 11:20 am | Reply

  8. I am very sorry to hear of your struggles, your family is in my thoughts and prayers. Have you considered homeschooling? It has been a blessing for many families to include those with special needs children. Here are some links that may be helpful. I wish you and your family all the best.


    Comment by DW — March 28, 2010 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

  9. How wonderful for Peter! I just came across your blog yesterday from the Russian adoption yahoo group. Peter and Sophie have had an amazing journey, as have their parents. Hang in there! No school official should be calling CPS to retaliate- that is so ridiculous! We’re praying for you!!

    Comment by Amanda — March 28, 2010 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

  10. Just following the photos of Peter, he is growing by leaps and bounds! Wow, what a miracle a loving home is making on this precious little boy. I, too, have had the “unhelpful” adult at school not offer the protection my son asked for on the playground. Good thing the assistant principal was his teacher for 1 sememter and I feel very comfortable talking to her. As a FASD child, his self control is not the best and he has had problems with altercations with classmates when pushed too far. But,he, like Peter, has come a looong way in the last 2 years and is improving! I thank God for every little progress we see and ask for the patience to do the best job He has for me to do.

    Comment by Mama Bev — March 29, 2010 @ 9:21 am | Reply

  11. Hello Mary, I am so amazed to have found this blog. I have been non-functioning since returning from church yesterday as I have been GLUED to your blog. I’ve read every word– some twice. Your description of Russia is eerily accurate and reading your descriptions, I could almost smell the places we went to in Izhevsk to adopt our two middle children in 2001. Apparently Russia has an equal-opportunity building dilapidation policy nationwide, as well as a philosophy that elevators are strictly for lazy Americans. 🙂

    Our children were only 3 months off of your childrens’ ages, exactly. Our daughter was 36 months old and our son was 24 months old when we were in Russia. He had his 2nd bday while we were there and she had her 3rd bday 4 days after we arrived home to Texas. Our kids also have FAS– they are bio sibs. The effects manifest very differently from one child to the other, but both have bizarre behaviors to say the least. When I read the blog about the stuffed dirty diapers and food in a basket and the “source of the odor” being found, I was shaking. Nasty smelling wet pullups are still like finding Easter eggs in our house. Although, not being imaginative, they are usually in their “usual” places. Only our daughter has elimination issues– but she will be 12 in May. I keep thinking she’ll eventually be dry, but not yet. The food hoarding is nutty– esp. candy, sweets, etc… (our son even drank a bottle of maple syrup once.)

    Oh, Mary, we could talk! In fact, I’d love to! Please feel free to email me… amycdorsey@yahoo.com i’m also a facebook adddict: Amy Crouch Dorsey 🙂

    Comment by Amy Dorsey — March 29, 2010 @ 3:01 pm | Reply

  12. What a wonderful report… crummy school situation aside. This is great news.

    Comment by Kendra Bonnett — March 30, 2010 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  13. Your kiddos are wonderful. You two are excellent parents. And, I know you need to hear this. My and my ex’s CPS run was two years ago. Yes, it has definitely left some serious residue (I’m trying my best to be polite here lol) on all of us, especially my daughter. I now know what to do when someone malicious feels the need to contact CPS, and they do not understand my daughter’s special needs. I didn’t think we’d make it through the ordeal, but we did. I’m not overally religious – but I do believe God loves my child, and all children, especially. So, keep the faith. If you need any information, just email me. Yes, we used an attorney against CPS. Yes, I would do so again. My child was in an orphanage in Russia the first two years of her life. She has physical, as well as mental, scars to show for it. I do agree that life should be better for these children in America. What it comes down to, in my humble opinion, is a lack of knowledge that most special education people do not even attempt to acquire, particularly some in the areas of psychology and/or psychiatry. It’s a shame. I am a Professor by training. I am not a special needs expert, but I am learning… 🙂 My thoughts and prayers are with you. I’m sending you the best energy I can. If nothing else, I now know how strong I am as a person, and particularly how strong my child is. It is amazing. But, I would not wish CPS on anyone. Often, power is used in a very destructive way by CPS representatives, and some others. I know I’m not telling you anything new. I just wish I could help in some way. Take care.

    Comment by Lori — March 31, 2010 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

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