This past year has been very rough. Pint, now 11 and in 7th grade and entering puberty has had a particularly hard time of it.
The girls see Mom intermittently. Sometimes once a week, sometimes once a month. Not for mom, but for the OTHER baby sister, just 4, whom I do not have custody of. So that they can keep a relationship with their sister. I have had to do many things in life I do not like, for the benefit of others. This is one of them. Pint usually is much worse after seeing her mom, or spending time with her mom. Mom still nods off, and that is a trigger for Pint. Mom swears she doesn't use, and the nodding is a combination of the methadone and the neurontin which she takes for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Doesn't really matter, nodding is nodding in Pints world.
Our usual day starts with me getting the little's off to school, then going down to wake her up. Waking her up has taken many trips down the stairs, soft words, escalating to simply YELLING. It usually takes about 45 minutes to just simply get her out of bed. During this time she says horrid things to me.
Finally, I get her upstairs. Where she sits, sullen, on the couch and I have to beg her to get dressed, take her ADHD meds, I have simply given up on her eating breakfast. I have to find all her stuff and literally shepherd her out the door when the alarm for her bus arrival goes off on my cell phone.
DH is usually sitting in the corner, mumbling under his breath at the way she talks to me, as though I were some kind of servant or slave. This usually makes it worse, but I don't blame him. I am his wife, and he doesn't take kindly to anyone dis-respecting me.
I have taken away cell phone, iPod, laptop, grounded her to house, used consistent and definite consequences for certain behaviors. Doesn't help.
After she gets out the door successfully, I usually go into the bathroom for some quiet tears.
She has threatened suicide numerous times (by numerous, I mean hundreds). She has been evaluated for bi-polar (doesn't have it) psychosis (doesn't have it) etc. Way back when, at age 5, when she didn't sleep at all, I had her evaluated for ADHD. The psychiatrist told me that it wasn't so much that she had ADHD, but that the two hemisphere's of her brain were developing at a much different speed. The one that controls logic, verbal and math skills was developing much faster than the one that controls emotions, etc. That we could treat it with ADHD meds, and it would probably work, and that you don't actually outgrow ADHD ever...but that she might, when the two hemisphere's catch up to each other, she may outgrow the treatment.
We may have arrived there. She was so bad that I hit video record on my cell phone several times, and just laid it down on the table to get the voice recording of a morning's angst. I played it for her psychiatrist. He told me that her words were NOT normal, her suicidal ideation was not normal pre-teen, her stated desire to 'cut herself' (not acted upon) was not normal, and that since she had shown in the past that she didn't react well to some of the meds given to her to help her sleep, he wanted her off everything. To get sort of a 'baseline' Pint. I was good with this. We agreed to use over the counter melatonin to assist her with sleep and to wean her slowly off the trazadone, and then substitute it with melatonin when she was completely off. Which we have done.
Her mood improved, somewhat. The mornings are still very rough. She constantly strikes out at me. We had also agreed to sprinkle out a wee bit of her Adderall each morning and to cut her dose down slowly from the 30 mgs she was currently on, until she was at about 10 mgs by the first week of May, and then to stop the Adderall completely on May 15. Which we are in process of doing.
Yesterday, after a horrid morning, I called her caseworker and asked for intensive in home counseling, in the early morning hours. I feel that I have to have someone outside the family to witness how bad it is. When her counselor asks her, or the psychiatrist, or any of the other various and sundry persons who interact with our family in a psychological manner ask her about any of this, she tells them she is fine, thinks about suicide but would never do it. They believe her.
I told her caseworker yesterday, you know, I don't actually believe her! She is way to smart, (remember guys, this kid is barely 11 years old and in 7th grade, an A/B student...) that she has the mental ability to plan and carry out suicide, while making sure that all adults concerned have absolutely no idea she is doing so. Yes, she can run a game with the best of them. And has, many times. She can actually manipulate grown and intelligent adults.
I had/have the feeling that there is so much anger stored up inside her little body, that she is striking out at me, the only constant 'safe' person in her life. I have tried many times to talk with her about it, and she just says, yes, I was angry, now I am not. She refuses to talk about it. She internalizes all of her anger, which then comes out in bursts, usually directed at me.
I am usually a very unemotional person. I do not react hysterically to my children. I do not cry in front of my children. My husband and I do not fight in front of the children (actually, we hardly ever even fight LOL). I have had to learn to be that. I am calm, firm and simply handle situations. I don't like to be a fire-fighter, I like to work on fire prevention instead. Nip the incendiary things in the bud and snuff them out before they become a wildfire, coursing through our family leaving devastation and damage. Hasn't worked so well lately, with Pint.
Last night, I had to pick her up late from school. Detention, only her second. For going to the bathroom and being late to class.
As we were in the car, I just started talking and crying. I told her how much we loved her. I told her the truth. I told her, you know, we didn't take you away from the person who was my adored baby daughter, whom I held and comforted when she was little. I didn't take you away from a wonderful mommy who took really good care of you. I didn't take you away from my own sweet child.
I took you away from a drug addict. Someone who passed out for 12 hours, while your less than a year old sister cried in her crib for 12 straight hours. (she said, I remember trying to get to the baby, but I wasn't tall enough, MeeMaw I tried to help her....) I said – I know baby. I know. I took you away from the woman who slept through your kindergarten bus dropping you off and left you at age 4 standing on a street corner by yourself.
I told her that I had held her little sister as she went through withdrawals from the heroin that her mother had injected right before she was born. And that her mother's best friend had brought her more when the baby was only one hour old! I told her about the cigarette burn on the 3 day old baby”s arm.
I told her about all the rehabs, all the stealing, all the lies, all the disappointment from her uncle and aunt who were young then, and adored their big sister. I told her that even after seven rehabs, I had believed her mother the one time, and let her take the kids during a 'clean time' which lasted less than 2 months before she relapsed (this was when the crying in the crib and the no one to meet the bus episode happened).
I told her-you think I hate your Mommy. I don't. I gave birth to her. I loved her more than life. But I don't love heroin. I don't love what it did to her. I don't love the fact that she couldn't control her addiction and that heroin became more important to her than anything else in the world.
You say I am mean, because I won't tell Mommy that I love her. I have seen and paid for Mommy to go through 8 rehabs. I paid for every diaper and every piece of food you and your sister ever ate. I paid for all your clothes. I paid for cars for Mommy to drive to the methadone clinics we paid to send her to. I let Mommy live with us so she could be near you guys, and with her family who loves her. Your Aunt and Uncle went without cars, without senior trips, without everything your mother had gotten in high school. During this time, we did everything for your Mom and Dad, and for their friends who were addicted. At one time we had 11 people living in our house, recovering. They all, including your Mom and Dad, stole so much stuff from us that we cannot even list it all. Thousands and thousands of dollars of stuff. Even still, we kept trying to help. I found programs, we paid for rehabs, we did everything possible.
I said, you have every right to be angry at Mommy and Daddy for what happened. You don't have to hate them, you can just hate heroin. But I couldn't let you stay in that environment. You and your sister are my GRANDCHILDREN. Blood of my body. You were in a situation where criminals were coming in and out of your lives, where your mother was passing out while driving with you in the car. Where she was allowing bad people to come into your lives. One of those people shot and killed his girlfriend last year, in front of their two children that YOU USED TO BE FRIENDS WITH. That could have been YOU.
At this point I was sobbing. So was she.
I said, you know, Pappy and I didn't start out to ruin your life. We didn't engineer this, no matter what you have been told. We had hopes and dreams for our future. We had a plan. And then we sat down and said, We love these babies more than anything in the world. We must save them. We are obligated to step in. That is why God gives every baby a grandparent. Just in case.
I'm sorry that YOU and your sister are the children of heroin addicts. But I am not the bad guy. Neither are your parents, they are the victims of their own stupidity and heroin addiction.
I am glad your Mom is going to the methadone clinic, but I am scared. She said Why, Mommy is clean? I said because she has already gone through methadone treatment 2 times before, and when she gets off methadone, she goes right back on heroin. It has already happened. Will it happen again? I don't know sweetie. But I am not willing to take that chance. I hope she gets off methadone and stays clean, but if she doesn't, then we will get your baby sister too. I told her, you will never go back to your mother. Even if I went to court and told the Judge that I believe in my heart your mother is okay, the Judge, after 7 years, would only put you in foster care. Your mother has never paid one dollar of child support. She has not contributed to your care at all. She has gone over a month without even contacting you. She has called many times to ask how to make meatloaf, or pork chops, and not even asked how you were.
I told her that I was on board to helping her mother (through 7 years of this crap) until the day I found her shooting up 4 months pregnant with her littlest sister. I told her how broken I was seeing that. How I couldn't believe she would do this to ANOTHER baby. I had already gone through ONE child in NICU for a month (Pint), another whom I held through heroin withdrawals at home for a week (½ Pint), and now, she is addicting ANOTHER innocent child to heroin (¼ Pint). I said your baby sister spent over a month in NICU and almost died because of the addiction. I was able to get mom into methadone while she was pregnant, but methadone is JUST as addictive as Heroin, and harder to wean off of.
I told her, we have had you in counseling to help. We are doing everything in the world possible to help you and your sister through a very difficult situation. But believe me, you are not the only children this is happening to. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of children now, going through the exact same thing.
I told her I have held you while you cried in disappointment over broken promises, broken arrangements and just plain hurt. I have stood on the ladder to your bed for hours at a time comforting you and telling you I would keep you safe.
I told her, hate heroin, hate anything you want. But don't hate Pappy and I. We took you because to us, you ARE the most important thing in the entire universe, you and your sisters. More important than your mother, more important than our lives. More important than money. You and your sisters are our complete and total life.
Pint has never seen me break down. I was sobbing uncontrollably the whole time I was talking.
She was thoughtful when we got home. Quiet. Polite. I am letting her sleep in, she was up very late. Did any of this help?
I don't know. All I know is that she hurts, I hurt, my husband hurts and we need to fix the hurt. Until it comes out, it can't be fixed.