Thursday, January 26, 2006

"There's no such thing as a honeymoon period"

I went to a foster parent training for dealing with kids with attachment disorders. At one point the trainer said, "There's no such thing as a honeymoon period. That quiet time in the begining should be called 'observation and assessment.'"

Ain't it the truth? How long does it take the kids to figure out our weak points?

When David was first moving in the social worker said, "Remember, these people are educators. They are not going to let you cut school like you did at your last home." Later I asked her please not to say those things again. David would figure out how to upset us quickly enough -- she did not have to draw a him a map.

I am worried about life with Evan though. Either this is the longest "observation and assessment" period ever, or he is just not playing the game. I am actually beginning to think that he isn't interested in making me crazy -- but thinking that makes me nervous. ("Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.")

With the kids in the past there were two rough patches: 1) the stretch of time after A&O in which they tested to see if I would kick them out if they pissed me off; and 2) when they are getting ready to move out and needed to establish some emotional distance.

When David did his "terrible thing" after living with us for a couple of months I recognized it for what it was. I picked him up, drove him home and gave him a lecture in the car, "First. You are safe and loved. Second you are in deep, deep trouble. You are grounded. I will talk to your social worker about this and I will let you know if X is going to press legal charges. Third, you are safe and you are loved. Now go to your room."

Actually, I guess we did have a similar episode with Evan. Except it was not a big thing. He was just getting on my nerves. For some reason that morning I lost it. I forget what I said. I remember the social worker saying that there was nothing wrong with saying it. I tried to explain that it was the way I said it. I got pissed and yelled at him. I worried all day about whether I had wounded him. He came home cheerful.

It turned out that all the times that I was responding nicely he was not certain of what was going on. He was looking for hidden messages when there were none. Getting mad he understood. Once he knew what I looked like when I was genuinely mad he trusted me when I wasn't.

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