Yes, it's been a month since the last time I blogged. That doesn't mean that I haven't had anything to say. It just means that I haven't said what I wanted to say.
Today, my friends, I am done being quiet.
My daughter Madi is beautiful. She is generous with hugs and smiles, and funny to the very core. She is imaginative, a dreamer, and a miracle. She is also a child with some very difficult behavior.
Of late, I have been at my wits' end just about every single day by the time the afternoon strikes. Madi is moving into a stage in life where she is not listening to me, and where discipline is very ineffective. She prefers bullying her sister and the cat to her toys, and likes to destroy things regardless of the owner. It's beyond your average sibling rivalry, though.
See, here's where it gets hard. Madi had a stroke in 2008. Actually, it was a series of small strokes. From the neurological standpoint, she has a few areas of brain damage in the areas of the brain that control cognition and impulse control. All members of Madi's medical/therapeutic team are very optimistic that over time, since she is so young, the brain will rewire/heal itself. In the meantime, though, there are some very real roadblocks to her development that we have to get around.
How exactly do you correct inappropriate behavior with a child that doesn't understand the concept of discipline and really could care less if she gets punished? I am still trying to figure it out. Got any good ideas? (We have done all the traditional punishments, to no avail.)
One thing I do not need, however, is criticism. I can't take it anymore. Believe me, I beat myself up day in and day out that I am failing somehow at motherhood. When I get notes home from the teacher saying that Madi's new behavior is throwing herself on the floor when she doesn't feel like doing something, it's frustrating. I feel as though somehow it's my fault. It doesn't help me to hear that I am not doing things the "right" way.
I cannot stress enough to people in my life that Madi IS different. I don't care if you have raised one child or twenty; if none of them had any kind of significant medical history and/or developmental issues, then you cannot compare your parenting experience to mine. Yes, Madi has made some HUGE gains over the past two years since her transplant. She has a fantastic team of people that are in our lives solely to make Madi's life that much better, and I am so grateful for them and their hard work. But she is still not the same as the "average" 5-year old. There are many challenges that come with behavior when you have a child whose brain is damaged in the very area that controls how and if she comprehends and processes something. It's kind of like a sieve, I think. A very ineffective sieve at that. Things you would never ever think she would comprehend, she does. And things that "should" be basic knowledge may as well be Sanskrit to her. Every day is an adventure in learning here in our household. What worked yesterday, or even five minutes ago, probably won't work at this moment. So I continue to improvise and stretch my creative muscles to the limit.
It's my hope that someday Madi will look back on her childhood and remember that I was always here for her, fighting for her (and with her, to be honest!) about how she can live the best life possible.
All I want for her is to live her life and be a happy, honest and kind person. I really don't think that's so much to ask.
If that means that I have to yell at her and put her in timeout 30 times a day for bothering the cat yet again, I guess that's what I have to do. (Sidenote: I don't see why timeouts are so awful for most kids. Doesn't a break from it all for a few minutes, totally undisturbed, sound fantastic? I want a timeout!)
But please, don't tell me I am doing it wrong. If I was, she wouldn't be the kid she is today. And the kid she is today is pretty damn terrific, if I do say so myself.