Reflection – Friday evening. I’m sitting here with a Smirnoff’s Ice – Raspberry and listening to Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy. I recount the day’s events, as well as the dreaded child development assessment.
I had one of those days today when I wake up and get the three kids out the door to their three different schools. Then I get to have my time. My time to fall apart. It’s ok to cry. And it happens. A day when everything yucky comes to the surface. Like the children’s book by Judith Viorst. I had a crappy, weepy, awful day. Could anything go well to lift my spirits? My week started with a few appointments Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoons for my daughter. The child with special needs.
I endured a three hour interview on Monday at a children’s hospital’s development and rehabilitation unit. My daughter got to draw, eat a snack, and answer a few questions, like: Who lives in your household? Do you have friends? I got asked all the other questions filling up the remainder of the three hour time. Questions like: Could you talk more about that? Could you describe situations? Could you talk more about that so I can visualize how that looks? This was precisely the reason why I had dreaded this appointment, I was wiped out that evening.
I will receive a detailed report in a few weeks. But at the end of this interview, the psychologist offered a brief assessment: Most likely, my kid was deprived her first year in life and also in her foster home of three years. She didn’t get her emotional needs met. There was likely a food scarcity in BOTH homes. I interrupted to point out that several of the people in the foster home were morbidly obese…
The clinician reported that food scarcity is common with obesity — the unstructured meal times, the ups and downs of food amounts. She went on to tell me that my child received little to no structure and stimulation in the foster home which would explain the simplistic play behaviors, the lack of coping skills and the obsession with food and tv.
I thought to myself while she talked: I know, I have heard this, why were we on a six month waitlist to be seen here?
The psychologist said to lower my hopes and expectations as she won’t be changing anytime soon. “You basically need to lay down a different foundation, as you slowly remove the old one.” Really? I said, somewhat sarcastically. She continued, “Yes, expecting her to change quickly would be like letting your original foundation just crumble and fall apart without any support in place.”
Somewhere I hear my sister and brother-in-law laughing.
She said my kid CAN change over time, a long time, if the parents and every teacher is consistent each and every time with the same rules and repeated direction of adaptive coping skills. Wow, I thought. Long time. Each and every time. Every single adult at home and school. Yeah! No problem.
Perhaps my depression is now better understood. Tuesday I informed my child’s therapist after another play therapy sand table session what was discussed at the children’s hospital. She had more to say on this matter.
Friday rolls around and I couldn’t stop crying. Every time I thought I had gained composure, I looked at myself in the mirror to get cleaned up. And every time, I saw my puffy eyes and eyelashes coated in Kleenex dust. And every time, I whimpered: is she ever going to change?!
I picked up my child at dismissal time at her school. She tossed her name badge to her teacher when she saw me. I waited for her teacher to make eye contact with me and to call out my child’s name. Then my kid turned to face her teacher and pestered: Did I have a good day? Did I? Did I? Did I have a good day? Did I? Her teacher continued to dismiss the other twenty first graders, but stopped. “Well, let’s talk to your mom about what happened.”
As I hustled closer so that Ms. T could tell me how my child stole a dinner roll from someone, I bumped into another mom’s arm. I looked back and apologized. The woman was wincing and rubbing her right shoulder. Yup. That was the finishing touch to my sh*tty day.