Wednesday, August 8, 2012
On the phone with my mom last night and she said, "You've always been extremely organized. Everything in your life is documented, scheduled and posted. I taught you that." (And then we both laughed)
Anyway, I've been thinking about that since she said it, and she's so right on that it's scary. When the kids first came to live with us 3.5 years ago I had a detailed schedule, including menu, that was posted on the fridge and followed to the minute- complete with timers and alarms for myself. About a year later their therapist, my therapist, and a whole gaggle of family and friends told me to get rid of it because it was hampering their development. At this point I'd like to point out that within the first year I taught my then three year old to read, write, and do simple addition, my then two year old could spell his name and write most of the letters, and the baby had gone from not being able to hold her own head up at 5 months to walking and using simple 3-4 word sentences by 11 months. The proof was there, telling me that I WAS doing something right- and this list doesn't even include the emotional progress that had taken place and the drastic change in my kids. The social workers said that they didn't even recognize them anymore! Nonetheless, when people with a lot of letters after their name told me to change it, I did. They've gone to school, they're professionals, they must know so much more than I do about this whole thing. So out the window it went.
The last two years our family life has just progressed deeper and deeper into hell. I'm not trying to claim that my kids were ever perfect, and neither was my parenting, but while on the schedule my kids had normal, age appropriate behavior issues. Since the schedule was thrown out we've been dealing with violence, lying, sneaking, stealing, playing with fire (have I mentioned that my kids are currently 6, 5 and 3?!?).. it has gotten so bad that Grandma has even kicked them out of her house more than once. That's BAD.
Three days ago I sat down with my husband and we talked about just what we're going to do. We had exhausted every option- time outs, calm talks, yelling, charts, rewards for good behavior, consequences for bad behavior, stickers, grounding, taking away toys, taking away privileges, taking away treats and day trips, giving special treats and trips when they're good, ignoring it, Love & Logic, 1,2,3 Magic.. nothing made any difference. When I say it didn't make any difference, I don't mean that it only worked for a bit and then stopped working, oh NO. I mean it never changed their behavior AT ALL. Not for one day, not for one hour, not for a second. We took the classes, read the books, had the kids in play therapy, group sessions with other adoptive families, and no matter what we did, it wouldn't stop. We were at the end of our ropes, our kids were hopeless, we knew without a doubt that we'd be visiting them in jail within 20 years.
So we thought and we thought and two days ago, the schedule came back, with all of its alarms and timers.. and you know what?? I haven't yelled at my kids or put anyone in time out in 48 hours. I'm hearing please and thank you consistently, there's sharing, there hasn't been one episode of violence, not one lie.. my kids are back!!
I'm not saying that a schedule is right for everyone and I'm not claiming it's going to change your kids behavior. What I AM saying is that I needed to trust myself more. I knew what was right for my kids all along, the proof was right in front of my face, the entire world saw it, but once someone came along with extra letters after their name- I threw it all away. I trusted them to know my house, my family and my children better than I did... and I was WRONG. I'm going to do what works for us, no matter what anyone says or how many degrees they have. I'm going to trust that I DO know how to take care of my kids, I CAN meet their needs, and I know how to make them happy... and I hope that you will always believe that about yourself as well.