Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why Bother?

I have a lot of thoughts kicking around in my head today. It has been an uneventful holiday season so far. This is a biggie, as this time of year is usually a signal to some of my children to self destruct, crash and burn, and try to take all of us down with them as they spiral into the frozen dirt. Imagine my surprise when so much of the holiday hoopla has passed, and no fireworks...yet. I am well aware that we are not out of the woods yet. I am also fully anticipating at least one child to tank as soon as school vacation is over. But it has been nice while it has lasted, and I am going to keep on basking in the glow as long as I can.

Yesterday I was pondering how well Lala has done over vacation. She has about a week and a half off, and the first third was spent in the bustle of preparing for Christmas, celebrating, and cleaning up. Then camp got into gear on Sunday, and she has (unwillingly) been going to work at the kitchen with her Dad, helping out as she can, and learning some of the jobs her older siblings usually do. She has been "early to bed and early to rise", with lots of structured activity in between. She has whined, and even wept over her lot, as she would prefer to lay on the couch and watch TV until her eyeballs fall out, or even just sleep all day, rather than WORK. Not that anyone else around here does such things, but she always thinks of herself as a special case. Today I watched her bustle about the kitchen, helping her Dad assemble some sandwiches in a hurry, and although she still gets in the way a bit, she is clearly trying to be helpful, and feels like she is doing something that matters. Tomorrow our campers will leave after lunch, and we will slip back into party and relaxation mode. The final third of vacation will wrap up with a typical Sunday at church and quiet winding down to school on Monday. I don't foresee any major bumps in the road.

Yesterday I was hanging out in the camp kitchen with beloved husband and Lala. It was between meals, and we had a few quiet moments to chat. Lala had made herself a bag of microwave popcorn, and was angrily stuffing it into her mouth piece by piece, to show me how peeved she was because she was grounded and couldn't go off with her sisters and a friend. I asked her why she was angry. She couldn't tell me. I asked her why she was grounded. She couldn't tell me. I asked her how long she was grounded for. She couldn't tell me. I felt so bad for her in her chronic state of confusion, that I decided to GO OVER IT ALL AGAIN. Slowly, painfully, excruciatingly, we went over the series of bad choices that had landed her on extreme grounding. Then we went over the string of bad choices she made that had further compounded and extended her grounding. We reviewed the rules, and discussed the warnings that had been issued. We talked over her debts, and why she owed money (restitution for damages), and how she would pay them.

When all was said and done, she admitted that none of it really mattered to her because:
  • She was never going to get off grounding because she would never make good choices.
  • She was never going to pay off her debts because she would just keep making new ones.
  • She thought we were all really mean, and she wished she had gotten a nicer family.
She did concede that her sisters didn't find themselves in a similar predicament, that they actually seemed pretty happy. Her explanation? We like them better, and we are much nicer to them. Though she did concede that they had to obey the same rules, and pay restitution when they destroyed things. Hmmm. Makes perfect sense to me.

At one point, when we were discussing her desire for a nicer family, I just broke into a monologue, in my sweetest, kindest Mom voice. I told her that when she laid down in her bed at night, she should thank God for giving her the most perfect Mom for her. That she was so lucky to get such a stubborn, ornery Mom like me, that WOULD NEVER GIVE UP ON HER, no matter how silly she might be. I also told her HOW LUCKY I am, to have her for my daughter, because she always makes my life so INTERESTING. I thanked her for giving me so many interesting things to do, like emailing her teachers, and scouring school websites for missing assignments. Like watching her every minute, to be sure she wasn't doing anything too..."interesting". And all the while, she was shaking her head back and forth harder and harder, trying not to grin. As I rattled on and on, she kept saying "No! You would LIKE it if I stopped! You would be HAPPY if I stopped." And yet again, I realize that this child never, ever wants me to like anything about her, and never, ever wants to make me happy in any way, shape, or form.

Right on cue, Boo galloped into the kitchen and demanded to know what was so funny, and what were we laughing about? I didn't even have time to come up with an answer, when she went on in an accusatory and suspicious tone. "You and Dad are so weird. You're so HAPPY all the time lately. It's not normal...but I like it!" And with that, she galloped back out the door, leaving her father and me laughing, and Lala huffing indignantly, and declaring, "I think you LIKE it when I'm in trouble!"

Last night I was laying in my bed, listening to the wind rip the roof and the tree branches off, and turned on the TV to keep me company, since beloved was snoring already. There was this horrible show on about hoarders. I say horrible in regard to the subject matter, not about the show itself. There was this horrible woman living in a hell hole of her own making. They actually found two of her missing cats, dead, in the piles of refuse. Her son and daughter had arranged the whole intervention because they couldn't stand to see their aging mother living like this, plus her house was going to be condemned. It had been going on for years and years. The daughter had actually raised her brother, because child services had removed him from the house when he was a child. The mother had never cleaned up the house and gotten him back. The whole time everyone was working, the mother sat out on the porch in a rocking chair and *itched about how this was all someone else's fault, namely the daughter, who seemed to have done a great deal for her ungrateful, mean mother. The clinical psychologist on the case said something to the effect of, "As long as she blames other people for her situation, she will never have the impetus to change."

When I heard that, it dropped like a stone into my brain. Lala wakes up every day and blames everyone else for her situation. She doesn't even care if her accusations and blame casting make sense. She really believes we are a mean family. She believes we like her sisters better, and treat them nicer. She wishes she could have gotten lucky, and gotten a "better" family. She thinks her teachers at school are mean too. She thinks they like the other students better. She thinks her classmates' grades are higher and they get along with one another, because they are "lucky". Why would a girl like her even bother to try? Her family hates her, her teachers hate her...everyone hates her.

2 comments:

Brenda said...

It's so hard to keep trying with a kid like this, isn't it. Well, good for you that you keep on keeping on with her. You make not make huge strides with her, but you will likely make enough difference that she is able to create some kind of decent life for herself after she grows up, and sometimes, that's the best we can hope for.

Good luck with the remaining days of the holidays. I'm sure waiting for school to start.

Brenda

DJ Dual Core said...

"It has been an uneventful holiday season so far. This is a biggie, as this time of year is usually a signal to some of my children to"

I have more good news for you. As my kids have gotten older the holidays have gotten easier and easier, to where we all enjoy them now. Right after the adoption were brutal and they stayed that way for some years. Now they get better and better each year.

You have something to look forward to, I think.