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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reach Out, I'll Be There

I got a phone call from Maria this evening. She asked to talk to me in person because she is having some issues with the kids. 

It was a little hard to understand her because it was on the cell phone and her English,when talking about emotions and relating events, is hard to understand at times. Just like I use the wrong tense in Spanish, she uses the wrong tense in English. 

For instance she will say "the child say me" instead of "the child told me" or "she said to me". 

For the beginning part of the conversation which started with her telling me she had to call the police on Monday because the child wouldn't go to therapy, I thought she was talking about Jelly Bean. Then I picked up some details and I realized she was talking about Little Mama. 

Recently, LM told my Mom that she wanted to come live with me. That being at her Mom's house was hard. I think she had some unrealistic thinking about the way things were going to be when she returned home.

Then Maria talked about how she was responding to lying and attitude. She said the therapist reminded her that LM is 13. And though Maria didn't work through the reasoning the same way I did, she wasn't buying the therapist's explanation.

Those of us with traumatized kids come up against this all the time. We hear, "that's normal teen behavior", "my kids do that". Sure. Yes. I'm sure it is. I'm sure they do. 

However, was your kid sexually and physically abused? Does your kid disassociate when scared?  Does your kid live in a state of constant chaos? Hmm well maybe it's not quite the same. And looky, looky, a therapist who isn't trained in trauma and attachment issues treating a child with those problems.

And even if it was "normal" that doesn't change the fact that this kid is crying out for help. Nor does it change that this Mom needs help too. On my best day, with my college degree in psychology, and my husband, and my Mom, and the army of therapists and my network of other parents who had walked this path before me, I still got it wrong. 

I repeated to Maria tonight. It is hard to be the Mom of your kids. Because it is. She may not recognize all the time that its their trauma that often adds a layer of challenge but she knows "it's normal teen attitude" doesn't seem like a good enough answer. 

I praised her for reaching out. Assured her she wasn't alone. Offered to come tonight if she needed but reminded her we could talk on Sunday when we pick the kids up as planned. Reminded her she could have LM call me if she needed.  I also reminded her that she was the Mom and LM will love her even when she enforces the rules. (I suspect that Maria is letting some things slide by with an apology and LM is running with that.) Maria is also concerned LM is suffering from depression and I agree an evaluation is in order.

Such an unlikely partnership. One I couldn't fathom six months ago. But here we are....

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