Trauma and Tin Foil Dinners

Need a fire to make the dinner

Parenting kids with trauma is super hard and yet it is what I signed up for when I adopted the kids. I feel stupid now that something didn’t dawn on me earlier as I struggled hard with N. She went to respite this weekend and all of the sudden it hit me why she was being so freaking difficult. I felt stupid for not thinking of this before but then realized I had to pull my emotions out to think clearly.

N has been having regular contact with her birth family. Her Mom told her the reason she did not come home and her brother did was because “she (N) was too out of control and no one could manage her.” OK now truth be told this is in fact what is true. N is ABSOLUTELY challenging in many many aspects of her behavior, HOWEVER, she has made some tremendous progress over these last few year. N’s family doesn’t want to set up visits, they only want to talk on the phone. Suddenly what I remembered is how this might feel to a kid who cannot express any emotions in a good way when they are this big.

So yesterday when I went downstairs because the same crap was happening again I approached it differently. I started out with “I can’t even imagine how confusing it was to hear the reason why you didn’t go home and at the same time be told the reason was your fault. I mean you wanted and answer but you sure didn’t want to get blamed. But let me ask you this N, in a parent child relationship who is responsible the parent or the child?” She said “the parent” So I said “All right here is the the truth. Yes your behavior sucks, truly it does. Yes it is freaking awful at times to have to deal with it but guess what I am the freaking parent and that is my job. I am sorry your Mom phrased it the way she did. I wished she had said something a bit different like ‘I am sorry it was so hard for me to manage both you and your brother. I know your acting out behavior probably came from the fact your Dad was being inappropriate with you and you couldn’t tell me how it was affecting you. But I wanted you to be safe and I could not keep you safe so I had to have you be somewhere where it would be safe so you stayed at Hillside.’

N sat up in the bed and stared at me. I told her that I loved her and that she deserved happiness in her life. She deserved to have someone like me to help her argue the voices in her head that were telling her she was a worthless piece of sh****. I explained I wanted to do that and pointed out how she was laughing and happy when outside playing tether ball just a few hours ago and how she was not happy now. I invited her again to come outside and be with us and promised her I would NOT talk about anything related to this conversation because it was not M2’s business.

Eventually she came out and helped make the tin foil dinners with us. I had gotten the ham she asked for and we had fun talking about how to do it, how to make sure things didn’t burn and what makes good tin foil dinners. All of us then went and played in the river behind our house. Even Baby K got in on the action and was splashing a bit on her rock. When we came in because we were soaked and needed to change, N came over and gave me what felt like a real hug for the first time in ages. I hugged her tight and said “This is what I want you to have. I want you to have fun with us because I love you and hate when you are sad. It isn’t your fault and I do love you.” She said “I know” and the rest of the evening was a bunch of fun with s’mores of course and a bunch of stories about the stupid things I have done in my life that were just laughable.

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