Thursday, April 2, 2015

Change is Needed

Every day I get on my computer and I plan on writing about Michelle.  Every day I hope to write that things have turned around, that she is making better decisions for herself.  Every day I have stopped writing because, well, it is complicated.  Or simple.  I am not sure.  I can see it, the history that got her where she is today.  I can see why on a certain level she continues.  But then, I am often amazed that she continues to make her decisions in spite of the consequences.  That she is unwilling to change her game.  Am I confusing you, I confuse myself often.

When Michelle was just barely 4 years old she took her younger sister by the hand and ran away.  I don't think that at that age she knew what would happen, I am not sure if she was running to something or away.  When they were picked up off of the highway DSS went to their home where her father was.  He was drunk and said that he couldn't take care of the girls.  Their mom was in jail at that time.  So they came into care.

I have been rereading their history.  Looking for clues.  Making sure that there wasn't something I overlooked. I haven't found anything new.  There is a little comment in there from the grandparent that Michelle was wanted by her mother but Emma wasn't.  They wanted the girls to be adopted, especially Emma.

Emma struggled from the very beginning.  Every move they had was because of Emma's behavior. Her behavior worsened to the point where she was screaming for hours every day.  That was when we got them.

Michelle is very bright.  I remember one time I caught her in an obvious lie and I asked her how she thought that she would get away with that one.  Her response was that she has lived with lots of stupid people.  I don't think that she has lived with lots of stupid people.  I do think that she has lived with lots of foster parents that were not prepared to deal with her sisters behaviors so they didn't pay much attention to Michelle's lies.  Many times her lies are simply to tell people what they want to hear.

I don't understand why they kept moving the girls to regular foster homes when it was quite apparent that Emma needed more.  Their previous adoptive placement hadn't even fostered, they were totally unprepared.  I imagine that they saw two cute girls and had no idea what behaviors to expect.

While her sister was raging Michelle was the good girl.  Quick with her love you's and help.  Also quick to lie to you to make you happy.  She wanted the adults around her to be happy, she didn't want to move and move.  I remember well her desperation in those early days.  When her sister would rage she would panic.  She tried to "fix" it.  She would even yell at her sister to stop because she didn't want to move. I assured her that they wouldn't move but she had heard it before.  Words are not worth much.  Adults lie, why shouldn't she?  Don't lies make life easier?  Make people happier?

During those 7 moves something was lost.  Michelle was lost.  Even today it is hard to buy for her, she changes according to others desires and wishes.  If I were to say that I wanted my kids to become dentists, that is what she would say she wants to be.  I don't know what Michelle likes, I don't think that Michelle knows either.

In the last few months her life has been turned upside down.  Her sister has turned around.  No longer does Emma tantrum for hours.  She still has her little fits at times but it is nothing compared to screaming for hours.  I caught Michelle trying to turn her sister back. She tried lying, tried instigating, tried to get her balance again.  As Emma was healing Michelle's lying was escalating.  It reached the point where I felt that it was a serious issue and "the main issue" that we were going to deal with in our house.

All the children were guilty at a certain level.  First we offered the "do over".  An opportunity to stop and think about your response.  Larissa responded to that quickly but has not really been much of a liar.  I had noticed that she was picking it up and wanted it stopped.  Anthony came around second when he realized that it was just easier to tell the truth.  At one point Emma realized that the consequence for lying was worse than anything she was lying about.  She started stopping and thinking.  Michelle refused.  She sticks with a lie with much drama, crying and screaming.  Actually the louder she cries and carries on the more I know that she is lying.

There are consequences for every lie.  That was when Michelle decided to run her bare feet in the cold.  Once again I don't think she really thought that out. Of course on that day she lied to the neighbors, us and police.  Then she dug in her heals.  Her behavior on all fronts got worse, even church.  At church she got to sit with us.  She hated that the most.  Just this last Sunday we let her go back to the children's church with the notice that if she disrespects her teacher she will be right back sitting with us.  She did well, she knows that I mean it.

One day I told her not not bring home a yellow.  I never said that again since she came home that day with a blue....steps down from yellow.  I'd rather see yellows!

She made a critical error one day by having me sign that she got a green. I received a call from her teacher the next day to see what I had signed.  Ahh, she didn't have a green, Michelle had changed it. That made things harder for her at school since her teacher now has no trust for Michelle.

Michelle has been seeing the therapist at school and she was excited about it.  I called the therapist and told her that I wanted Michelle to earn the opportunity to see her.  We agreed that Michelle had to have two green days to be able to see her.  Michelle hasn't missed a weekly visit.  She will get two green each week so that she can visit the therapist.  I know that might sound strange, to make her earn therapist visits.  They play games and such and I didn't want her to think that she only sees the therapist if she has bad behavior.  Since she really enjoys going I wanted her to earn it....and she did. This tells us that she is totally in control of her behavior.

This week is spring break.  She has been grounded.  Grounded from all electronics and special activities.  It has been a challenge.  I walk out to the garage and walk in to find her standing in front of the TV.  She found one of Tasha's adult books and was reading it behind another book.  Every day it is something.  She seems to be hypervigilant in finding some way to get away with something.

She is upset, she has missed movies, Father/Daughter dance, Kings Mountain, fun projects and such.  But obviously not enough to feel the need to make a change.  However, change is needed.  Michelle needs to learn how to be honest, not only with others but with herself.  She needs to learn who she is.  She needs to learn to love herself.  I don't think that she does at this time.


  1. Man. It's got to be hard to be the sibling that's held it all together and finally feel safe. We have just one member of a sibling group, and his sibling issues are tough enough. I can't imagine parenting two together when suddenly there's a role reversal like this. Wishing you strength as you help Michelle learn consequences and learn who she wants to be when she's not Emma's caretaker/fixer.

  2. We are where you are. Kayla missed a lot two weeks ago spring break and this week with the pinata and today at the beach. She the day she was on out of school suspension, she was supposed to write verses about kindness. She did everything but write them. So I told her they had to be done in order to play at the beach because she already took a play day on her suspension day. She is not writing them. We are coloring eggs, tie dyeing shirts and donig the pinata this weekend. By time she decides to write them, it is going to be too late. She will get Sunday school and church (we don't let ours go to children's church unless they've had a nearly pefect week at school) and her Easter basket, but no extras.

  3. oh. I hear you! Hang in there. Just when it seems it can't get any worse it will... and then there will be a breakthrough. That is how it seems to work with MIssy. Missy is very much in control of her bad behavior, too. She looks hard to find ways to be a problem. And then we have times when it gets better. At the moment we are not in that good place....

  4. hugs! hugs! that's all i can say. these kids, wow. they are so challenging. keep on though. you can do it. :)