We have a BASIC Rule list in our home, as well as a “Deal Breaker” List. This applies to all of my children. If a Deal Breaker happens, respite becomes involved, because at that point it is NOT about discipline, it becomes about safety, and safety come s first. This is our family’s working Household Requirements list.
Deal Breakers (Not being safe enough to be in our home)
• No hitting EVER. ( this is NOT “play fighting, or angry smacking”, I mean aggressive, breaking bones stuff)
• No putting self or others in danger (threats of harm, suicide attempts, sexual abuse).
• No running away.
General Requirements / Rules
• Follow instructions / do what is asked.
• Treat others with respect (no rolling eyes).
• Be where you say you are going to be.
• Honesty in all actions (stealing or lying).
• Do your best.
• Use exit strategies when angry.
• No screaming, yelling, or threatening.
• Take responsibility for school, chores, and church activities.
I was NEVER going to open up about this bad boy. There are just things you DON’T say and talk about, things that you respect for your children, because they will be healed someday and maybe this kind of stuff should not be out there, when and if they do. BUT, and I mean a BIG Fat-heart-breaking-BUT, some of our kids may not be that lucky
Some of our kids may not get there. Some of our kids no matter how safe we try to keep them, how much therapy, how much time and therapeutic energy we put in, may not make it out alive.
And well someone needs to talk about it, and well since I HATE that I am becoming the poster child and expert in self harm, safety and suicide attempts….here I am, telling the truth, because when other people are brave and lay them selves on the line, it is when and where I learn the MOST stuff to help my kids…and I may or may not be returning the favor, but I also am smart enough to know; I. Am. Not. Alone.
Deep Breath….sad sigh…
Putting up the Ugly-Sad-Scary-Worst Nightmare FLAG….
We have had now, two very dangerous suicide attempts in our home.
One was a prescription pill overdose, another whtch is 2 days recent, involved self harm.
Someone asked me recently “what do you do, when your child’s chronological age and some of there more basic behaviors are age appropriate, but emotionally and socially they are much, much younger. Parenting wise, we basically parent the age in the moment, acting 10= ten year old logic and discipline/natural consequences, not easy, but work able. Logistically in the “system” it is HELL. Unless you live in a large city with incredible adoption/therapeutic resources and respite, you and your child can fall through cracks, worse your emotionally eleven year old eighteen year old can be put in adult facilities, be charged as an adult, and much worse. Trust me, I know.
The triggers are always crazy, sad, and minimal to the lay person.
My child went on a church activity, and met a nice sweet 15 year old young man and a crush seemed to form. Seemed harmless enough, except the age difference, and some of my child’s behaviors of choice, not always being the most appropriate. The HARD/Honest truth is, he is a 15 year old boy, emotionally 2 years younger than girls, and she is an 18 year old girl, emotionally in the pre-teens as well, they probably do relate really well to each other, yet the law would hardily disagree.
In our home, our children may not singularly date until they are 16; yes we are old-school. So when we let her know the door swings both ways, and if you choose to “date” someone younger than 16, than it needs to be supervised, in group dating, or hanging with the fam…I am pretty sure she thought she would die….LOL…maybe that is not the most “appropriate’ saying… whatever, appreciate my dark humor and the brilliance of my foreshadowing….because in situations like this, after you are done crying your eyes out…the crazy-person laughter comes next.
“We” obviously lost our cell phone last month after the $450 worth of calls in two weeks.
Well, being supportive and understanding, we wanted to foster this situation as safely as possible, and allowed texting on one of our cell phones, after she asked, so we could keep record of the communication….and we were pleased as punch things were going so swimmingly. (just say it..”Idiots”)
Once things hit the fan. Once she found out she could not “go out” by herself with this boy…it got ugly fast.
After a verbal slip, and some investigative work, we realized that the relinquished cell phone of last month, had been stolen, and used to the point of ALL minutes and texts had been used in one week. …replacing it every morning on my dresser, so I would have no clue of it’s nighttime absence….hence why we were so eager to use Mom and Dad’s cell phones.
The clincher; and I am slow to share, but what the hey…Ugly Flag is already up.OOPS! “We” had “thought” we had deleted, all incriminating texts, yet let’s just say…some incoming and outgoing photo texts had been over looked, and yes, I did vomit.
And the Nightmare began. Morally, ethically and occupationally (for my husband) we were obligated to contact this boys parents. Due to the age difference and our daughter being a quote”ADULT”…they had every right to press charges.
We gently and non-shamingly explained our heart ache, our concerns, and the reality of the natural consequences at hand. Sadly, maturity wise all she heard was, “I will not be able to see or talk to the LOVE OF MY LIFE, anymore, it’s OVER”…and because we are so young, we have so little problem solving skills, we really did believe that our life was over, and we really did have the desire, will and ready to try to make that happen, my daughter tried to end her life over a boy she met a week ago.
I now know what an actual psychotic break looks like.
I now know what it is like to try to explain to your five year old what he saw was not O.K., book a therapy appointment, and PROMISE over and over again hourly, that his sister is not dead.
I now know what it is like for my child for five hours to not know who you or they are.
I now know what it is like to ride in the back of a police cruiser with your child to the E.R., because you could not safely drive them yourself.
I now know what it is like to restrain your child in an E.R. room from attacking health staff, physically and emotionally.
I know what it is like to have to explain to a child that has completely lost any frontal lobe capabilities what “going to the bathroom” means for a tox screen.
I know what it is like to cuddle and comfort a terrified child, in a cold E.R. room after they have beaten you to a pulp, because they still need you.
I know what it is like to threaten a feeding tube, to get your child to eat, so they can take anti-psychotic medication.
I know what it is like to BEG the psychiatric staff to NOT admit your child into the adult un-involuntary program, even though you are terrified to spend another minute with them. Because they ARE NOT an adult, and it would be more traumatsing, than therapeutic for them.
I know what it is like to pull strings, use my husband’s reputation, and get my child relinquished to me once released from the hospital, with nowhere to go…because going home to 8 terrified children, would do no one any good.
I know what it is like to phone all over three sates to try and find a RTC that will allow my broken child/Adult into an adolescent program, 27 phone calls no success…one possibility.
I know what it is like to, unshowered, straight from the hospital
in the same clothes from 24 hours ago, (that you had run three miles in no less) walk into a hotel with an overly drugged teen and rent a room, even though all you want to do is go home, and not be terrified of the person you are sharing that room with.
I know what it is like to so desperately want to take a shower..but be so
scared what could happen in that ten minutes, that you run a bath instead, once bath is run, you can get in, leave the door open, have a cell phone available for 911…and a towel kept close, just in case of a runner.
I know what it is like to look at the edge of the tub and see this shampoo bottle:
And laugh HYSTERICALLY…really that’s ALL it TAKES..a little “normalizing shampoo…and ba-da-bing my life would be good as new…her life would actually get to start…I sat in that luke warm water and laughed until it turned to ugly sobs…and then I got up, turned my dirty sweats inside out..and tried to sleep with one eye open, as I waited for my husband to call with the “next step” the hope of a safe, appropriate respite for our broken child.
I know what it is like, not to sleep all night as your child wants to be held like a baby, calling you Mama..and then lashing out, and locking herself in a bathroom.
I am home now; we found a safe, temporary respite in trained family, while we continue to find a good fit for Long term Respite Care.
I am numb. I am SAD. I am relieved. I am exhausted beyond belief. My child is ALIVE.
I don’t really know what comes next. But, I know I am doing the best I possibly can for her. Forever and Always and NO Matter what…