Sunday, October 30, 2011

Building foundations...

 Sometimes I literally put words in my kids mouths….

It is not out of forse.
It is not out of Control…

It is out of their sheer NEED, of being able to understand, no not just understand , but COMPREHEND life’s interactions, that so many of us take for granted…

You see my children appear to be 2,3,6,6,6,8,8,10 & 18….but they are not.
Nope. On good days my non Nero-Typical kiddo’s act about half their age…the rest of the time, I am raising 6 emotionally unstable two year olds….and I LOVE two year olds, when they are chronologically two. When they are little, the bi-polar irrational selfish, narcissistic behavior is adorable and charming…two year old behavior in a screaming drooling eight year old,

That is what people don’t get. My sweet lost babies, act, fake and desperately try to be normal…with NO foundation, no tools, no true understanding what NORMAL is.

That is what early childhood Trauma takes from theses kids it takes, or never really supplies a FOUNDATION.

A Foundation for TRUST.
A Foundation for EMPATHY.
A Foundation for HONESTY.
A Foundation for SORROW.
A Foundation for RELATIONSHIPS.
A Foundation for RESPECT.
A Foundation for SELF WORTH.
A Foundation for LOVE to give and receive it.

How do you form a healthy human soul without a foundation?
It’s like building a house on a stretch of sand. Without somehow figuring out how to get a sturdy foundation under these children, they will be washed away with the tide.

 Question: How do you go about building a foundation under an already built house, whose walls are caving in?

Answer: Very carefully, with lots of Structural Support.
It feels impossible at times….

I can’t name or number the amount of times daily, we have inappropriate reactions, interactions, conversations between family members in out home. It becomes part of the norm. Weird stuff, Misunderstandings that turn into WORLD WAR III.

A month ago we were all playing and goofing off in the Family room carpet, I think we were playing animal Charades. (I do a fabulous Elephant Impression, BTW)
Anywho, Hubs was being a Lion, or Panther “something in the Big Cat Family” he stinks at Charades, he was a little confusing.
In Scoobs excitement and haste, he jumped from our fire place mantel right on top of Hubbies unsuspecting arched back. Hubs was down for the count. It really, and I mean REALLY hurt him.

So Scooby got ANGRY, He was sooo MAD.  He went into the other room and started baming on the piano, throwing  pillows off and then dissecting the couch. Knocking chairs down, stomping and screaming…

After making sure Hubs was really O.K. I quietly walked into the Living Room and sat.
Didn’t say ANYTHING, just sat and watched him get it out.
He was breathing so hard, his poor little heart must have been beating 1000 times a minute. Finally I asked him if he wanted to sit by me.

He did.

Chest heaving up and down, hands trembling, my little 8 year old was in Fight mode.

After we did some “Breaths”.
Scoobs we discovered since he was little needed to be closed in on. We put pressure on both his back and chest with open palms and simulate calm, deep breaths.
Little did we know, 4 years later he would be diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.

I asked him what he was feeling?

“O.K. , Buddy do you know, Daddy and I both know it was an Accident?”

“Yeah, but I’m STILL MAD”

“Could maybe that MAD, be embarrassed and Sorry?”

“I don’t know, it just feels like MAD.”

“I understand it feels like a BIG, YUCKY, HUGE MONSTER FEELING, but maybe that is how “Sorry”, can feel to, maybe?”

I said” I want to go check on Daddy and see if he is doing O.K., want to go with me?”

“He might be MAD at me.”

“Honey, I think he was surprised and hurt, but knows it was an accident……..would you like to tell him that it was an accident and that you are sorry?”


“Could, maybe I help you talk to Dad, and give you some words?”


And that brave ANGRY kid, sat down in front of his Dad, and started scratching ferociously….”I ITCH”…

“I know sweetie, sometimes saying sorry, feels uncomfortable.”


This is where Sensory Processing and lack of Emotional Processing meet.

I sat down on the floor and pulled his back against my chest and there we sat.
I held his hands and tapped his palms to calm him as he looked at his Dad.

“Repeat after me Buddy.”

“Dad, I am sorry you got hurt.”

He said it and started screaming “I ITCH!”

“Keep with me Sweetie.”

“Dad, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I was excited about the game and wanted your attention. I thought I was being silly and fun, but I hurt you, and that made me feel BAD, and SAD, and ANGRY with myself.”

Big Crocodile Tears sprung out of my boys beautiful gray eyes. A huge sob racked his little body as he went to find solace in his Fathers arms.

“I am sorry Dad, so sorry.” He said over and over again.

Sometimes we need to put words in their mouths they can not, and will not find on their own….much like teaching a two year old “Hot”, or “Owie” or even saying “I love you” over and over again. These basic principles of  TRUST,OBJECT PERMANENCE,EMPATHY,HONESTY,APPROPRIATENESS, SORROW,RELATIONSHIPS,RESPECT,SELF WORTH, and most of all LOVE.

These principles must be modeled and displayed…and sometimes mimicked and supported.
Sometimes I have to put words in my children’s mouths, so that I can slowly add a foundation to their hearts.


  1. Lindsay - you are THE most amazing example.

    Could you put some words in my mouth? I'm just sitting here crying. Because I don't know how to be the loving, therapeutic mama you are? Because I am so happy and relieved for your little guy (who in another home might have been beaten first for the accident, then for his reaction), rather than understood.... Because I let my foster son read the paperwork about his "family" (Russian prostitute mom and sister) last night, without knowing he'd never seen it before. He is about 8 or 9 in many ways, and I just took him home, not realizing how much he needed my help to process it. Because Anastasia is supposed to see a new therapist today, and she stayed up all night so she would go to sleep this morning and I won't be able to wake her? Because I'm so bad at what you are so brilliant at? Because I am so, so lucky to have you as a teacher and example! Because I am AWED, and crying for gratitude? Mostly the last one.

  2. Great post! I was just thinking this the other day. I expected my daughter would be learning from her interactions with others, but she wasn't. She didn't have the basics to understand what had gone wrong or why. She's getting there, but we really have to explain things over and over, often going into how would she feel if...

  3. Wow.
    This post makes me feel 2 things.
    1. How proud I am for those rare moments when I knew just what to say and listened before speaking. When I saw into my sons' hearts and saw their true age instead of their chron-age.
    2. How much I wish I could have done #1 more and wondering where we would be if I had.

    I love you, but, darn have you been challenging the socks off of me lately.

    Good thing I'm caught up on my laundry. :)



  4. So true... I have 3 children in particular that I put words in their mouths all the time.

    Just had a teacher conference yesterday for one, and she said the same thing....

    practice makes perfect... or at least practice makes at least sort of kind of okay.

  5. This post reminds me of how Mo has been having to handle little Miss M lately. Seeing as I'm her trigger I get nothing but a blank empty face, where Mo can reach that place in her that I can't right now. Its nice to hear sorry and see tears sometimes, to let you know that the insides do work if even for a split second...and then its gone again.