Monday, February 24, 2014

Digging Out of a Funk

Parenting is HARD.
Parenting neurotypical emotional children is HARD.
Add trauma, a mood disorder, toss in a little sensory stuff and attachment, and well, there are days you wonder why you bother getting out of bed, getting dressed or making any sort of effort. Speaking period can be dangerous and triggering.

Are you with me?

I hope you nodded a little or even shouted a resounding “HELL YES” at your screen.
I promise this post will not include a purple “back-pack, back-pack” and a fox named Swiper.

Are there days the the idea of facing one of your angry elves has your head and mind racing, even before the alarm goes off and you just DON'T WANT TO GET UP, FACE THEM, SMELL THEM, or BE IN A ROOM WITH THEM?

I mean rrrrreeeeeaaaallllly don't want to get up and face the angry, sad, sullen, yelling, screaming, silent treatment control games, that seems to be an endless game of specialized torture just for you?

Can I get another “HELL to the YES.” Even if you don't always feel this way, come on, sometimes you do, right? RIGHT?

My kids (cuz lets be honest I have so darned many) like to take turns with making certain seasons of parenting them an extra hard painful (like pulling my fingernails out with pliers) affair.
So very painful. When they are struggling, when their shame is eating them alive and holding them under, when their ability to regulate emotion is null. You become, after themselves their favorite bonding buddy of misery.
In their need to explain their pain they enroll me in their boot camp of “Feeling shitty, angry and rejected.”
And I can be a damn good soldier.
They want me to join their ranks. They poke and prod and pee and lie and steal and hurt me so that I can 'get' a fair understanding of how they feel 99% of the time.
They are Share-bears on crack. The result being, neither of us end up feeling too great about each other or ourselves.

We BOTH get stuck.
We both need to be dug out.
And since I (unfortunately) am the adult, I eventually have to realize, we are either going to have to stay stagnant in the stuck, or I am going to have to grab a friggin shovel.
Because even IF I want THEM to do it and unstick themselves, they can't.

At this point in the stuck, my usual, booty shaking, music playing,goof ball tactics are not working, and really, my heart isn't in it as much as I want it to be. When they roll their eyes at me, I want to join them, in a “Right this is ridiculous that I am EVEN TRYING” eye roll of solidarity.
I want a bag of mini snickers and a good Netflix series to get lost in, not dealing with their crap and my emotions surrounding it.

Shovels up. Clink here we go.

Ways to dig out.
These are not sure fire, they don't all work for all kids, and I would LOVE to hear different idea's from different sources.

Somethings I have learned about the dig outs, is: a) the least obvious and ostentatious the better.
When we do something for our kids when we don't want to, they can smell it.
Might as well drag it through the dog pooh of “See you are mean to me and I STILL DO NICE THINGS FOR YOU.”
Not that I have done that 5 hundred million times.
Because to them, it is still shaming, it is still saying, “You are mean, you won't let me love you, SEE I do nice things, and am nice and you are not and this is proof.”
Yup, and that reception? Not going to be taken well.
You might get a brand new pink swimsuit with glittery butterflies, or a Green and Blue Bey blade spinner thrown back in your face, but there I go being all specific and shit.

You have to be stealth.
The stealthiness, the sneak, and the dig, gives our kids the oppertunity to react without the pressure of us looking for their response. The dig sometimes is a big back hoe brought in the middle of the night, or at times is bit by bit, teaspoon by teaspoon.

If these reconnections can be made without the need of them having to accept it from you, or you even expecting an acknowledgment, it creates a safer environment for them to accept it.

Around Christmas time and my now favorite tradition is the “secret elf”.
Instead of elf on a shelf, we all draw names on Thanksgiving and begin a season of random anonymous acts of kindness. There is no pressure to preform the duties, or acknowledge them.

So when I am hurting, with and about one of my stuck kids, I like to become a Secret elf, to my Angry Elf. There are simple things bit my bit that can help knock out a season of stuck.

My beautiful brilliant friend Christine is an AMAZING example of this. I am soo thankful for her day to day reminders and examples of how fiercely she loves and parents. Many of theses ideas are her gems.

So, here is my list of a handful of ways to still be emotionally protected, in a healthy way that protects both of you, and slowly bring you both back to a better place.

For smaller people
Hidden sweets in their pockets, or shoes left on their car seat or under a pillow.
A new coloring book and crayons just sitting out.
A new blanket or soft toy, sprayed with your scent, left somewhere it obvious it is for them.
Gentle music is a biggy, PLAY it. Have a wind up something available.
A reason they need lotion or you do on feet or hands.
A class that you as parent and child participate in.
Cooking in separate bowls (even if they are just stirring yogurt) something that you then eat together.
Just sitting listening to your favorite music, closed eyes.
Planting flowers,or seeds and bulbs in their own pot with complete permission to through the dirt and anything else they feel like throwing.

School aged kids and readers ( again given and done stealth with very little expectation)
*Any of the recommendations above.
*Random unsigned notes in pockets, shoes, lunch boxes
*A book on tape or music you know they would enjoy when you are in the car with them (avoids arguments too)
*$1 store Puzzle Book and fun new color pencils
*New socks and under clothes left on their bed ( because we all know how often they go missing)
*Random “just because” snacks they can bring or have dropped off to their classroom or Day Care
*A new to them shirt or item they have been wanting or that has been taken away returned with no words
* An after school movie date with Popcorn
*Craft Supplies left on their bed
*Their favorite music primed and ready for specifically HARD mornings or trips in the car.
* A surprise outing planned with a friend or sibling unearned, like a picnic and trip to the park.
* Having finished their chores for them, or cleaned their room wordlessly, without expectation of acknowledgment.
* Putting a framed picture of them up in their room, with a sticky note of why you love this picture of them.

Teens and young adults * all of the above, including the coloring book and crayons
*Gas, music or fast food gift card just laying on pillow
* Their favorite movie rented and a bag of microwave popcorn sitting out
* New Body wash, soap, shampoo, waiting in bathroom (always a bonus when a teen smells better)
* Tickets to somethings they really have been wanting to see or go to, left somewhere they will find.
*Making their favorite dinner and having their favorite snacks around on a particularly hard day
* Sticking gum or mints in their wallet or purse.
*Picking them up at a time they were expecting to walk
* A journal and new pens sitting on their bed
* Taking care of a problem for them, without being asked
* leaving flowers in a vase in their room
* making their bed with clean sheets

Is anyone dry heaving yet? Hand raised. I know all of this sounds HARD when you are being treated like dirt, I KNOW. And I can't promise at all that any of these teaspoons of digging them and you out of being stuck will work, but what I can promise? Doing something, is way way better than doing nothing.
And while you may not get a single positive reaction or change, you may be cracking a foundation, you may be loosening some soil, you gasp, may be giving your child the room for them to have a single positive thought about you, and therefor themselves.

    YOU have got this .
    Give it a try, can it hurt or cause any more funk in the funk you are facing?

    Shovels up, Clink.
    Here, we go.


  1. love this, and you. it's hard to do these things when the crying will start ten minutes later. but it still needs to be done. breathing...

  2. Thanks for all the specific ideas. We have been in a funk here and I was just thinking, "wonder how Lindsey would handle my life" (the answer is a whole lot better because I'm only doing one mildly challenging kid and you are doing a bundleful)! I'm going to do some of these TODAY.

  3. Love this, and you and Christine.So well put. 'Share Bears on crack'..... oh that's a phrase that will stick these ideas in my mind a long time.