Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Why do all my trip narrations have to end with the word "disaster"?

We went to a popular tourist town by the beach this weekend for a mini-vacation. I was a little nervous with Taz unraveling so quickly this week. But I figured playing at the beach, swimming in a pool, watching the boats, what 4 year old wouldn't have fun doing that?

Mine, that's who.

I can't understand how on earth a little boy just can not seem to have fun on vacation. And a kid centered vacation at that!

I don't know if the issues centered around anxiety or depression or being outside our normal routine.

He wanted to switch activities every 20 minutes, which is great for camp, but not so great when you just packed up all your swim stuff and got in the pool with a 1 year old who loves the water. So we had a lot of meltdowns, a whole lot of whining, and some perseverating on random thoughts and ideas.

We left early, as usual. It made me incredibly sad, as usual. Can we ever go on vacation again? Why can't my kid seem to have fun like normal kids? Why does everything overwhelm him so much? Are doomed to stay in our house forever?

I have scabs on my hands and arms from where he scratched me and made me bleed. It's really hard for me to remove him from places now that he's bigger and really strong. I can do it but not without getting hurt. Especially if I'm juggling something else in my arms, a purse, (or a baby perhaps!). This weekend I had my husband to help, which it turns out is a necessity on vacations. I would even venture to say that if we were to do a vacation again, we would need other adults to help too.

Anyway, I'm visiting my best friend who lives out of state for the next few days and having a blast! This trip has cleared me, temporarily, of the troubles at home. I'll post again with some more thoughts and details later.

Oh, and Taz's mood...didn't get any better when we got home.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Can't Calm Down!

Taz has become more attuned to his behavior and body lately and more verbal about his feelings. It's wonderful in one way, because we can use this to teach him. But harder in some ways because it's heartbreaking to hear what he's going through. And I think I'm realizing just how much he can't control.

We are hearing a lot of I can'ts

"I can't calm down!"

"I can't stay away from Chica!"

"I can't be nice!"

His need to interfere with Chica all the time is becoming a compulsion driving him like an engine. If she does something wrong, he must interfere, despite the fact that we tell him over and over that it's our job to take care of Chica, not his. If she talks too loudly or yells or looks at him when he's mad or touches something of his, he must do something to her. Usually a hit or scratch or push but sometimes more.

I think I've described before how unsafe he can be with her. But this compulsion is just driving us all crazy! He tries to stop himself, I can see him try, but the itch usually gets the better of him. Which is why supervision is getting harder and more important than ever before.

Dh and I were just talking about how we basically are living out of laundry baskets because we never get time to fold clothes and put them away. Most moms can give their children an activity to entertain them for a short time. Or put a movie on. Or maybe allow them to help with the chore. But I can't. I absolutely can not do chores with the kids awake and no adult help.

I feel like my entire day is filled up with keeping the kids apart, being hyper-vigilant when their together, keeping activities going so Taz is entertained, playing outside, getting them drinks, getting them snacks, changing diapers, and maybe trying really hard to cook dinner. When Dh gets home the place is a disaster, the kids are usually cranky and hungry, and dinner is half cooked. Thank God he is a patient husband and good father.

Oh, and that he doesn't have some medieval view of gender roles.

Anyway, I sort of rambled here. But chores are a big issue. Taz doesn't even have the focus to clean up his own toys. I have to literally point to every single toy and tell him one at a time where to put it. And even then I still have to remind him of what he's doing when he gets distracted on the way to the toy basket. It's more exhausting than picking them up myself and takes 5 times as long! Chica, who's 3 years younger, does a better job.

Well, I never meant for this post to be about cleaning but I guess that's what's on my mind today :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Picnic Disaster

I don't even know why I bother sometimes.

Taz had an end-of-the-year picnic for his preschool at a local park/beach. I had no idea how many kids actually went to his preschool until I drove up to see about 200 people there. The event was very well organized but it still felt chaotic. Problem #1: Chaos and noise do not make Taz a very happy boy.

Each child was assigned a colored bracelet that corresponded to an order of activities. First up was music. Taz did okay. There were dancing games and songs with hand motions but mostly Taz rocked his head (like Stevie Wonder, remember that from my sensory post?) because he was anxious. But he tolerated it. After music we were supposed to do a dress-up relay race. Problem #2: It was hot. Like 90 degrees hot. Heat does not make Taz a happy boy either. He saw the dress up clothes, then the other kids running to the cone and he was not impressed. I enticed him to try the race by telling him he can show everyone how fast he can run. The teacher tried to get him to put on the clothing and he said, "I already have a shirt". Duh. What kid would want to put on extra clothes when it's 90 degrees out? So she let it go and just let him run. After his turn, he was done. I mean with the whole thing. No more activities, no playground, nothing, he was done. And when Taz is done, it's usually best to leave. But I didn't.

So we took a break in the shade instead. Then Taz started obsessing about where his teacher is and wanting to play her game (each teacher was assigned a different game to run). It wasn't our turn to be at that game but I didn't care. We jumped into another group and played her game. One of the teachers running this particular game could see that Taz was losing it and couldn't wait in line so she let him jump in front of the other kids twice. I was not popular with the parents that day, but I never am. After playing that for about a quarter of the time the other kids did, he was ready to move on. That's when he noticed the beach.

Now the picnic rules said there was no swimming allowed. But this beach was open to the public so there were actually people swimming. Both my kids love the water so how can I not allow them near it? So I thought maybe if I let them wade their feet in the water for a little bit Taz would calm down and participate in some of the games. Big mistake.

Chica, who is usually my laid back girlie, freaked out that I wouldn't let her go all the way in. She thinks she's a fish. She will walk straight into the water and not stop until we pull her back. I have never seen her so mad in all her life. She was not going to tolerate just dipping her feet.

Taz's anxiety was getting the better of him and the beach wasn't helping like I thought it would. So I picked up Chica and sat in the grass to put their shoes on. Chica screamed which set Taz off even more and he started throwing sticks at her while yelling to "shut up!" All the while I'm trying to dry their feet off with my shirt and get their shoes back on.

I was tempted to leave but I had packed a wonderful picnic lunch and I knew if we could just hold out a little longer he'd be able to eat in the shade with his friends and have fun. So, because I always have a truck in the back of my car for situations like these, I asked Taz if he'd like to push his truck around and collect wood-chips. This is usually very calming for him. He said yes.

So I hiked all the way up the hill I parked on carrying Chica, who's 20 lbs, in the 90 degree heat, got Taz's giant dump truck and carried it back down to him. He ran to me and started screaming that he was hungry. Like a desperate about-to-seriously-melt-down screaming to eat. There was no point fighting it.

So even though we were the only one's not playing any games, and the only ones starting lunch, that's what we did. We had our lunch while all the other kids (including the other special ed kids) participating in the activities in one way or the other. I looked around and felt very sad. Sad that my child was simply not able to have fun. He couldn't handle these normal childhood experiences. I so badly want him to be able to. But I know he just can't. And I have to stop going to these things thinking that this time he'll be able to do it.

After we had our lunch he was in a better mood. Of course the games were over and the other kids were starting their picnic lunches. That's when Taz asked if he could play the games. Go figure!

Oh yeah, and he never even used the truck.

Monday, June 14, 2010

We're Okay

So my last blog post wasn't too hopeful. But I'm going to try to be more optimistic with this one.

We're doing better. We added a third dose of Abilify in the middle of the day. I find that if I give it to Taz a little early we can head off a lot of problems. If we're late, we have big problems. The afternoon dose has gone up a little too. I have to give it to him by 5pm or we head downhill for the whole evening.

If he gets his meds on time and we keep the environment quiet and as stress-free as possible then he is manageable. Not perfect, but much better than before. If things get chaotic, noisy, or stressful for him, then he gets chaotic and loses all stability. So it's a very careful balance.

Balance. We're back to the word again.

I feel like Taz is a room that we have to feng shiu. We can't move the furniture around too much or the chi will be off. Or something like that. I don't know much about the art of Asian decorating.

The point is....we're okay.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Is it Just Me or Is Everyone Having a Hard Time Right Now?

It seems like a lot of bipolar kids are ending up in the hospital (or very close to it) right now. We are having issues here and I'm starting to wonder when that point will come.

Taz had a big episode of uncontrollable...I don't even know what to call it....rage? No. It alternated between extreme aggression and hysterical sobbing. I switched from restraining him to rocking him. It lasted about an hour. This was on Friday.

What scared me about this episode is that I had a lot of trouble keeping Chica safe. If she got close, which inevitably she would being 1 and wanting to be with me, she would or could get hurt.

The weekend consisted of a lot of violence as well but Dh was here to help. Dr. S (psychiatrist) upped the Abilify to three times a day to see if it would help. We just started it today but it's already been rough. Taz woke up and almost immediately slapped his sister in the face. Later in the day he smacked her hard on the head then tried to kick her in the face. This isn't even counting the aggression towards me and Dh. Biting, kicking, scratching, hitting, with purpose and all his strength behind it.

He's getting to the point where I can't move him safely anymore. If he's in the car and doesn't want to get out, it's not as easy to pull him out and "force" him inside as it used to be. I'm sure most of you are way past that with older kids but Taz is so young that we've been able to do that until recently. I've had to put him in a booster seat in the front passenger side (with air bag off) because every car trip he has tried to hurt Chica. I end up watching the rear view mirror more than the road.

The unrestrained violence towards us and more importantly, Chica, has been a huge concern for me lately. It is getting worse and more severe every day. Dr. S is talking about which local hospitals to bring him too in case we need to.

I really don't want to. Obviously. But probably even more than a parent of a biological child doesn't want to. With Taz being adopted I'm afraid leaving him overnight in a facility without us will be too traumatic and he'll never recover. I'm afraid it will shake his attachment and security with us to it's core and that will create a whole other issue.

But I'm scared and overwhelmed with how to keep Chica safe at home alone. I'm investigating how to get some help. The story about Jani Schofield gave me the idea of contacting psychology students at local campuses to do internships with us. I don't know if that will turn anything out. We may not be famous enough.

I'm at a loss of what to do. I keep them separate as much as one person can keep a 4 year old and a 1 year old separate. I never leave them alone together. I even walk backwards if I have to go to the other side of room so that my eyes never leave them, especially if they are playing close to one another.

It's hard living in a state of hyper-vigilance. I feel like I'm going to lose my mind. Or I'm gonna start growing eyes in the back of my head or something.

Anyway, I do want to post about a school issue I had today. Maybe I'll get to it tomorrow.

And finally, those of you with hospitalized children or who are headed that way, I am so sorry and wish you all the support and hope in the world.