Thursday, October 25, 2012

Whole New Strategy

The carnage of late has been great. In 8 days, 7 new tubes of toothpaste went down the toilet in 3 separate incidences. I will not buy smaller tubes because I'm afraid they'll pass through the toilet and clog up the sewer lateral. Imagine the cost of ripping up my driveway to get to that pipe!

Also add another contact lense that Blossom ripped in half and the handicap parking placard that I've been looking for since last Friday. Today, Blossom adimitted that she threw it out the car window, probably last Friday as I was taking her to the doctor for her rash. Last night, we were all in the car and my car key was missing. Awhile ago, it was my housekey, but I didn't realize it was Blossom as that time until I found it on the highest note of my piano when I opened the lid to play weeks later. Thankfully, I did find the car key, but only by luck. Blossom would not tell me where it was, no matter what. I don't know what else might be missing, but I am missing the container of Jie Jie's baby teeth and the time frame points a finger at Blossom.

I realized that she is a master player. Her goal is to get me so angry that I'll send her back to China. She doesn't trust that I'll keep her, so she's rather bent on proving that I'll give her away or send her away.

My new girls are so fragile right now. Last night at my meeting, the man happened to be Chinese and as we all sat there, I watched a change come over Sissy. She was nearly in tears by the end of the meeting and when I asked what was wrong she said she didn't like America and wanted to go back to China. This is definitely not true, so I was puzzled and wondered what was going on in her mind. Out on the sidewalk, on the way to the car, I asked again what was wrong and she burst into sobbing tears. They lasted all the way home. Instead of a bath, I put her straight to bed, her safe place where she talks of her scary things. Sure enough, she admitted that she thought I was in that meeting to do paperwork to send her back to China. The minute I assured her she was wrong and that I'll never let her go anywhere, she was smiling and happy.

Sissy is doing very well. It's been three months since her adoption and she's done remarkably well. I'm 5 weeks in with Blossom and she's right about on par for her past experiences, too. However, what I've been doing so far in reaction to her carnage has not changed her behavior at all. In fact, I've fallen directly in with her plan and didn't even know it. Although my anger lessened, my appearance of anger did not since I believed she still needed a consequence and/or punishment for her actions. I'm certain she associated the increased severity of the punishment with an increase of my anger, so she felt she was achieving her goal.

As of today, finding another torn contact lense of mine, my anger was real, but completely hidden and it's changing from anger to planning. I continued with our day without a hitch, in fact, giving all the girls a special little snack. This gave them all great pause. Then, as we cleaned out the van in search of the handicap placard, I told the girls that whoever found it would get to pick a cookie from the bakery. They all scrambled to find it, but, of course, it didn't turn up. As usual, Blossom couldn't contain herself and said a few things in Chinese that clued Sissy in to the fact that Blossom had something to do with the missing placard. With the promise of no punishment for telling the truth, Blossom confessed that she'd touched it. Soon, with a few questions from me, she confessed that she threw it out the window. Since the only time she's been alone with me in the car was last Friday to go to the doctor's office, and that's when I noticed it first missing, I deduced that that was when she committed the crime.

I praised her for telling the truth. It wasn't false praise. This was a good breakthrough. Then, I lamented that it was a shame we couldn't recover the placard and have cookies. Then, later, of course, we had to park quite far away from the door of our destination because we couldn't park in a "blue" spot. Too bad we can't get ice cream since I've had to pay for parking twice now, $4 total, which is what 4 cones cost us at IK&A or the local fastfood place that starts with Mc.

This is a plan that is positive. Punishment, of course, is negative from the perspective of my kids. I didn't like being punished as a kid, but at least I knew I deserved what I got. I don't think our orphanage raised kids know this, or, because the reasons for their behavior are quite different from what mine were as a kid, normal methods just don't work. I've been smothered by all the negativity Blossom's behavior created and now I've stopped it. She also felt the reward of telling the truth. My other two girls didn't have to see me angry and see Blossom punished. They've missed playing with her.

Now, don't get me wrong. Blossom is in lockdown for sure. She cannot be out of my site for even one second, and I've really had to discover what one second truly is. She cannot go into any bathroom alone or any bedroom. But, I've made the time to be able to watch the girls play out in the yard, where she can't cause any real damage (as far as I can tell). And it was interesting watching them play. They played "family" but one that was an imitation of Blossoms bad antics with the following consequences, but with a childish spin toward exaggeration and cruelty. Instead of a dinner of plain food, the poor pretend child didn't get any dinner at all. Could this have been a punishment used in Blossom's orphanage? Most likely, yes. Pre-Blossom, Jie Jie's version of playing family was to be a mom adopting kids in China or taking care of daycare kids, etc... See how impressionable our kids truly are?

I feel much better about my new strategy. I think that it will finally set Blossom on a new course. Meanwhile, I just have to remember where I keep hiding our toothpaste!


Anonymous said...

Hi! You don't know me, but I started reading when you were adopting Jie Jie and have just continued to enjoy your posts. You are a very smart mom. Dealing with Blossom's attempts to make you mad by ignoring them is not something that would come naturally to most. I admire your patience - my daughter was only 11 months old at adoption, and her behavior was so difficult for me to deal with. She's 9 years old now and doing much better. Your girls are lucky to have a mom who understands why they do the things they do and how to get them beyond their orphanage background. One thing we tried that helped a little was seeing an attachment therapist. You could try that if you feel overwhelmed; however, I definitely think you are on the right track. Blessings to you and your beautiful family!

goodiego said...

How wonderful that you figured out not to treat your DD punitively. Her seemingly bad behavior is indeed coming from a place of fear.

Another side of that is as she starts to feel herself falling in love she may push you away harder for fear of losing you or having that love taken away from her. That is all she knows up to this point in her life. Consistency is key.

As far as her taking your things...try to see it as she is trying to take a piece of you (or a sister) and have it just for her. Take it as a sign that she is trying to hold onto you in the only way she knows how to. I learned when my DD was stealing my things to "fill her tank" and give her five extra minutes of cuddle or facetime every day. I'd step it up.

When she took DS's things, I'd have them play some silly game together. I swear, five extra minutes of one on one filled her enough to eventually stop the stealing. If I noticed her slipping, I'd try to figure out why and not punish her but love her even more.

attach-china yahoo group has some great support if you have the time to read. Ther may be some extreme stuff on there but you can learn and get some great ideas from BTDT families.

Just the 6 of us! said...

It sounds exhausting. I get tired just reading about it. I wonder if you could put Blossom and Sissy in some kind of extra curricular activities. Does your local rec center have a low cost soccer or basketball program? My neighbor adopted 10 year old twins from the Ukraine with severe RAD and they thrived in the local soccer program. Sometimes kids need the strenuous activity to get out some of their fears and frustrations. I feel badly for little Jie Jie. She had a pretty easy transition into a family before her sisters came along. Hopefully she'll be a stronger little girl because of her trials. My neighbor also had a huge issue with one of her twins secretly abusing her cats. She would do weird things like stick a sucker stick up it's bum. She would take the cat in the bathroom
and quietly torture it. She would get up secretly in the middle of the night and poison the cat's food. The cat would throw up the next day. Whenever the girl was out of town the cat would stop throwing up. I am assuming since you have many darling cats and you haven't mentioned anything in your blog that this is not a problem for you. I am very glad for that. My friend ultimately had to buy an alarm (like $20) at Home Depot that she attached to the door frame of her bedrooms door. When her daughter tried to sneek out of her room in the middle of the night to either poison the cats food or eat forbidden treats the alarm would sound loudly (VERY LOUDLY!) throughout the house. It worked to stop the late night "prowling." I am in awe of your amazing mothering skills. I am waiting anxiously to hear about your next adoption from China. Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Great job on trying various methods of reaching Blossom. She needs a family so desperately. You are doing a great job and your patience is amazing. I appreciate you being honest about the things that are going on and the various techniques you are using. It is SO helpful to other adoptive parents!

You mentioned that you think she is right on par, did Sissy have these kinds of issues too upon returning from China?

B said...

Hi kimi!
I think one correct thing about the new plan is the reduction in "special attention" blossom gets. Both my girls have done things that surprised me and upon reflection getting my attention was the goal - good attention or bad attention is better than no attention.
Extinguishing some of these behaviors happened by just turning my face away to show "no attention for that".

Anonymous said...

love love.... from zekes sister:)

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to meet your DD's emotional needs at the age of your relationship with her. You may need to treat her in some ways like an infant since your relationship is brand new. DD who is home five months may need some emotional support as you would parent a five months old.

Our social worker gave us that advice when we first got home and we were struggling at first and it was a life saver. I found even when DD was home 3 and 4 years she sometimes needed to be parented as a toddler in our relationship.

Always treat each child at the emotional age of your relationship with them.

Anonymous said...

Sigh, I have four daughters from China and one had so many take-aways, I could not even figure out what more to take away - Today, she's doing so much better. She's actually a delight. I'm slightly inclined to ask you to consider a while in public school for Blossom (I did private, but my daughter was younger and the funds were there), however that's all up to you.


Joannah said...

I agree with your first commenter- you are a very smart mom. It's great that you are able to reflect and change course as needed. :)