Some things I may never understand. In fact, there are a lot of things I’m sure I will never understand. For the most part, I’m ok with that. Most things I don’t understand don’t need to be understood by me. Most of them can be left to the experts and that doesn’t bother me a bit. But there are a few things that I just lay awake at night, trying to figure out, and failing miserably. One of them is the duplicity that is each of my daughters. Let me give you a perfect example of this.
One day last week, I opened the door to my bedroom and walked in to discover a piece of paper on the floor that had obviously been slid under the closed door. This is a Cambria technique for the delivery of pictures, bookmarks, notes, etc. when my door is closed. I reached down, picked it up, and started to read. My eyes began to fill with tears and my heart sang a little song of joy as I deciphered her note to her dad:
I remembered that earlier that day, she had asked me how to spell “special” and that I had seen her with her paper and pencil at the table, working on something. This is apparently what she had been working on. It amazed me that something so true, profound, and meaningful could come from the mind and heart of such a small person, and that it could have such a large effect on me. It was one of the moments I will treasure forever.
Lovely, no? Enough to make up for oh so much pain and struggle with her. Even made Sunday’s debacle seem small and insignificant.
Fast forward no more than five minutes. Cue Isaac’s blood-curdling scream. Out I rush to find Isaac crying hysterically and Cambria with the meanest, dirtiest look on her face. It was obvious to me she had just taken an opportunity to express her displeasure with her brother in a much-less-than-acceptable way. I walked toward her and she, knowing what was coming, sat back on the couch and began kicking her feet wildly in an attempt to ward me off. I scooped her up and off to her room we went for the inevitable time-out.
Isaac is still crying loudly, so my next immediate concern is to see what damage has been done. I hugged him and asked him if he would be ok. “Ya, I’ll be all right,” was his half-choked response. On his upper right arm was the evidence of what had just passed: a perfect imprint of all Cambria’s teeth. My heart almost broke. I know what it feels like to have those teeth implanted in your flesh hard enough to leave a mark like that. I was so thankful the skin hadn’t been broken, but he would invariably have a large bruise on his right arm.
I simply could not and still can not understand how Cambria could fly to such an extreme. It seems that both my girls can be set off at the smallest, most insignificant thing. To be fair, Isaac does tease them both, and I can see that there are times when he deserves to be harassed a bit for the way he treats them, but I honestly cannot understand what it is that causes my sweet girls to become so completely horrid. Especially when I know they are capable of so much good.
Anxiety plays a big part in this violence for my girls. They are both on anxiety medication (as is their mother, so I’m certain that is something they have inherited), which caused a noticeable change in the frequency of Erica’s violence. I’ve begun to wonder if Cambria’s medication dose needs to be adjusted, as the incidence of her violence has become more and more frequent. I’ve expressed before that I am not sure how much I think is a learned behavior for her and how much is possibly biological/chemical/genetic. I’m hopeful that getting Erica’s behavior back under control will help, but there is a part of me that is pretty sure there’s more going on with Cambria than her simply reproducing behavior she has observed.
Next week Erica has an intake appointment with a clinic where I am hopeful we will find a good therapeutic connection for her. Maybe if we can find someone she will open up to and connect with, then things will settle back down. And maybe if Erica’s behavior settles down, Cambria’s will as well. But it is so hard to know. I don’t know how long to wait before I need to do something else. And when it comes to that point, what is the “something else” that I need to do?
I love my children. They have brought me so much joy. But this is so difficult. It breaks my heart to see my son putting up with so much. I’m so thankful he doesn’t get violent with them, but at the same time, I want him to stand up for himself. I don’t know how to teach him to protect himself without condoning violence to combat violence. I don’t even know how to deal with it myself when the girls start to take their anger out on me. The safest thing I’ve come up with is seclusion for the offender, but Isaac can’t very well take the girls to their rooms when they attack him.
It is so frustrating to me to not know what to do. I feel like I am floundering so much of the time – like no matter what I do, all I am managing is survival. Life should be so much more than simply surviving one day to the next. But when it takes every ounce of emotional and physical energy I have just to make it through the day, I just don’t see how there can be room for more than that. For now, survival is the best I’ve got.