Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An experiment in self-control

She can't control herself or she won't control herself? That is the question. Unfortunately, it's not one we can actually answer. So sometimes I lean too far in one direction or another in parenting Acadia. That's what I did this morning with disastrous results.

, when Acadia gets out of control (violent, destructive, dangerous), I take her (one way or another) to a small room that we call the calm room. The walls are pine so she can't destroy them, there is a big cushion on the floor for her to flop on, scream into, punch, whatever. There is a plexi glass window that lets in light from the kitchen, a light on the ceiling that she can't smash, and a door that locks on the outside. It's small but safe. The problem is I feel terrible that I have to put her in there. It feels wrong to lock your child up, even in a nice room for a few minutes until she calms down. I want her to learn to control herself, what if putting her in there is just teaching her that she can't control herself without being contained? What if she's just getting violent so that I will stop her and control her, so that she doesn't have to try to control herself?

This morning I explained to her that I wasn't going to put her in the calm room today. If she was destructive, she would clean up and pay up. If she was violent, Lily and I would go to another room where we could be safe. I told her that I wanted her to stop herself and that she could ask God to help her with that. I said "When you start to get angry..." she interrupted "I don't start to get angry, I just am angry all of a sudden." "Okay, when you are angry, you need to work on calming yourself down, tell God that you can't control yourself and you need His help." She just laid on the floor and said nothing. Then she laid on the couch and said nothing. Then she got up and got on the computer which hadn't logged me off yet. I came over and logged off, and she exploded. She started attacking me and throwing stuff. So according to my "brilliant new plan" Lily and I went up to my room. Behind me I heard Cadi throw a glass across the living room and it shattered on the floor. In my room I sat down and held the door shut and Lily happily ate her snack and looked at a National Geographic. Acadia went ballistic. She beat the door with stuff, and threw everything she could find at it. Squirted water under the door. Screamed, cried, pounded, etc, etc. After a while Lily said, "Mom I'm tired of being in here". I said to myself "Yeah, what was I thinking, lock up the safe child and let the unsafe one roam free? This is really nuts." So I called my mom and asked her to come help me.

Mom had planned for months to take Noah on a field trip today. But Noah broke out in some kind of weird virus with spots, so they decided not to go. She had said to Dad last night "Why does this always happen when I try to plan some sort of field trip?" Dad said "I guess God just has other plans for you". So Mom was home and came right over. Meanwhile I opened my door and let Lily go play. Acadia came in and crashed on my bed, sobbing. I just held her on my bed for awhile, even though she was trying to get away from me the whole time. She cried and said that she just wanted to be normal. I tried to ask her what kind of normal, but she couldn't talk about it, just kept crying. When Mom arrived she came in and got Acadia to calm down, take her meds and have some breakfast. I went down and cleaned up the broken glass. Mom helped Acadia clean up the rest of the messes she had made, then let her go outside while we talked and finished cleaning up the kitchen. I told Mom what had happened and she said the problem was that Acadia felt totally abandoned when I left her. It was if I took away her only hope and left her completely alone with all her big scary feelings. I asked Acadia if that's how she felt and she said it was. I told her that wasn't what I meant to do, and asked her if she would forgive me for that. She said she would. I asked her if we should just use the calm room next time and she said yes.

Mom took Cadi with her and was going to have her do schoolwork at her house. I got to have some time by myself to calm down and regroup before I take her to Bangor for therapy. Writing this blog seems to be working to get my thoughts under control and my emotions in check. I want to call myself a failure, but I know that I was just trying to figure out what was best, and made a mistake. In spelling, I tell my girls that mistakes are just opportunities to learn. I guess Acadia and I had some things to learn today. My Mom is God's heavenly assistant, otherwise known as an angel. She is one of the reasons Acadia is not in the hospital today. And I am Acadia's self control. Like it or not, that's how it is right now. I am the one who needs to pray for the Spirit's power and guidance. He will not abandon me, and I will not abandon her.

1 comment:

D and S said...

Sorry today was so horrible. Sometimes as parents it is just an experimental thing. Trying things to see if they'll work or not or if something is more effective. I'm so glad you have family close to help you out! what a blessing!