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Leaking Hearts and Pumpkin Flavoring


I have to leave in 20 min. to pick up the kids from school.  Ellie, with her escalating behaviors,  causes me to dread this event every day.  I’d keep her there all day and night long, if I could.  More on that later…

Lizzie has been home sick since last Sat.  I took her in for a strep test on Monday – negative.  But now she’s been throwing up since last night.  It’s a weird sickness.  Some sort of virus, I guess.  I worked all last week (associate subbing) and one day I had to leave early because Ellie was sporting a 102 temp at school.  She stayed home one day and was just fine.  Lizzie hasn’t had a temp yet, so I don’t think hers are the same germs.

Guess who is now an officially licensed substitute teacher?  And guess who has her first sub job next Monday afternoon?

This is how it happened.  Well, I went back to college…😊 I’ll speed it up a bit!   I was getting antsy about my license not arriving, even though I knew it was supposed to take 6-8 weeks after submission.  So a couple of Saturday nights ago, when I was 3 or 4 weeks into the waiting process, I went through my paperwork  to see if there was anything I missed.  I found a note suggesting I keep an eye on my  Spam folder because often mail from the Dept. of Ed goes there.  To my horror, when I checked my Spam folder, I found an email asking me to re-submit my transcript.  This had been sitting there for almost a month.  Not only that, but there was a warning in the email that if everything was not processed by Oct. 12, a few days away, I would have to start the submission process over and repay the $163 submission fee.  I immediately re-submitted the transcripts and emailed the head of the dept. and then was majorly bummed because now it would be another 6-8 weeks of waiting because my own idiocy in not checking my Spam folder.  So I began to pray that God would move mountains and I would have that license in only a week.  There was no reason for that to happen, but I’ve seen God do great things before, and I knew it couldn’t hurt to ask.   I prayed and prayed and prayed all weekend long.

Guess what was in my In box first thing Monday morning?

And then, this part is kind of cool, too: So, I had agreed to work all week long in the Level 3 room at the school.  First thing on Monday, I waltzed down to the superintendent’s office with my transcript and license.  The secretary assured me that she would inform the school secretaries that I was now on the list of teacher subs and to take my name off the associate sub list.  Later in the week I happened to be down by her office and noticed a sign hanging on the door informing people that the secretary was out of the office from Tuesday through Friday.  If I had not gotten my license on Monday morning then I could not have dropped it off that day.  And if I had not dropped it off that day then it would have been another week before I would have been on the sub list.

And within a couple days I was feeling anxious again.  What if the superintendent’s secretary didn’t send out the email like she said she would?  So I started praying that I would get a sub call by Friday – just so I knew for sure I was in the system.  I got one Thursday to work a half day in Sam’s class next week.  Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t until I happily informed Sam of this good news that I discovered that I will be teaching 5th and 6th grade math.  I’m not so sure I can do that!  But getting that kind of answer to prayer was a blessing.  God didn’t owe me any favors but He let me have this one, just the same.

Since then I’ve been asked to cover Monday afternoon for a special ed. teacher in the middle school, too.  That day is Sam’s birthday so I’m going to eat lunch with him like I always do and then dash across the street to start working.  The secretary who called me was so nice.  I told her that I really wanted to accept the job but I always eat with my kids on their birthdays.  So she called over to the elementary to find out what time Sam would eat lunch and then texted me back to tell me that we could make both work and for me to take my time with his lunch and just come when I can.

I’m going to see how the jobs start to stack up once I get some sub jobs under my belt.  If I’m not getting enough work then I’ll decide by Christmas if I should also put my name on some lists at other area schools.  I think I could still make it work with getting the kids to school.  I wouldn’t be able to accept last minute jobs at other schools, I don’t think, but if I knew in advance that I was needed then I could make arrangements for them to be picked up by the school bus.
Sam is taking trombone lessons through the school.  Wow…that is creating some unpleasant listening on the home front!  I’m paying $37 a month to rent his trombone and then I’ll have the opportunity to buy the instrument, with the payments applied to the price at the end of the school year.  I don’t know yet on that.  I’m going to have our church music director check out the trombone to see if he thinks it’s worth shelling out the money for it.  And, I guess I need to see if this is something that Sam is really going to put the effort into or if the enthusiasm will wane as the practices increase.  Lizzie is already talking about taking flute lessons next year.  Sigh…it’s a good thing, but it’s an expensive thing.  Of course, if they weren’t in school I’d have the cost of lessons, which would easily run $50 a month, plus the cost of the instrument, so I’m coming out ahead by doing this through the school.  I will have to keep reminding myself of that fact.
 I had a close call yesterday while driving.  I was coming out of Merle Hay Mall onto Douglas St, turning left.  I pulled forward a little bit because I was turning left on a green light, but there were cars coming towards me so I needed to yield or figure out if they were turning left, too.  All of a sudden, to my horror, I see this mini van headed straight for me on my left as it began to run a red light.  I hit my brakes but realized there was nothing I could do.  In the nick of time the mini van squealed to a stop, a foot or less from the side of my van.  If she had not stopped, she would have plowed right into my driver’s side door,  As I made my turn, adrenaline pumping, I could see it was a very old woman behind the wheel.  She had her hands up in the air and mouthed the words, “Sorry, sorry!”

Thank you, Lord!
 Last week was a rough week.  I mentioned that I worked all week.  It was in the Level 3 room, which really is never a problem for me.  I like all the teenage young men in there.  The one I was with I have worked with before.  He is on the autism spectrum and has some other disorders as well and like most on the spectrum, needs his stability.  Going a week without his regular one-on-one was hard on him. So I was not too surprised when Thursday,  he did not respond well to me taking away his ipad (when he refused to give it up when asked to do some schoolwork).  The next thing I knew he was cursing me out and then he took off his shoes and threw them at me.  It wasn’t completely unexpected, but still unpleasant. And then in the middle of his tantrum his nose started bleeding so I was trying to clean him up from that while he continued to call me bad names.  We had a slightly less dramatic version of the same events on Friday.  Sigh…I don’t care if it is a mentally impaired person – it’s still not nice to be sworn at.

So that was happening.  And so was Ellie.  The week before last I was incredibly touched when I found out that my pastor and his wife were not content to simply tell me they supported me and were praying for me as I deal with Ellie.  Instead, they began to do some research on RAD and in their research they found a book for me entitled,  Parenting the Difficult Child – a Biblical Perspective on Reactive Attachment Disorder. It’s written by an adoptive mom. 

  My pastor’s wife began reading it to see if it was sound and within a couple of days she was taking pictures of the pages and emailing them to me.  I got so excited that I almost immediately ordered the book. 

I’ve been going through it slowly and I don’t think there is a paragraph in the book that I haven’t highlighted something.  The message I am reading is resounding with me and is profoundly changing my perspective on the disorder.  What I have read and what I have been taught by the girls’ counselor is that RAD is a mental disorder  caused by early trauma.  There is no cure.  There is simply learning to manage it and accepting that the neural pathways in the girls’ brains do not work the same as other children’s.  Essentially, the girls are handicapped. I’ve accepted that to a certain degree because that’s all I’ve ever heard.  But I’ve been puzzled because I have seen the power of the Holy Spirit in Lizzie’s life.  She has been a changed girl since her salvation 4 years ago.  That’s not to say she doesn’t struggle with different things, because she does, and they may be trauma-related.  But if her brain was not capable of working right, how could this  change have occurred?

It’s because RAD is not a mental disorder.  It is a heart problem.   The author identifies the root of RAD as that of anger, which makes complete sense to me.  The book is filled with Scripture.  One of the things I asked my pastor was where in the Bible does it talk about the RAD child?  I know everything we need to know for life is in those pages, but I have been flummoxed as I have sought answers for this.  Well, they’re there and I am learning them as I am going through this book.

I’m not finished yet, but I am slowly gaining ideas for working with Ellie. I plan to go back through the book and come up with some sort of devotional plan for all 3 kids where we’ll cover the verses, biblical stories, and applied principles that this author lays out.  She has all sorts of put off/put on charts in the books that I may  re-type and hang up around the house.  It also occurred to me that an angry heart  does not leave any room for gratefulness, so today I ordered an easel pad and my plan is to have the kids write down something they are grateful for each time we meet for these devotions.  It may be, too, as I get to the end of the book I may find the author does lay out more of a step-by-step plan for implementing these principles with the RAD child.

Essentially, I have to immerse Ellie into the Word of God for the next decade that I have her.  Nothing is guaranteed, of course.  But if she does become a prodigal, she’ll know how to find her way back.

Like I said, it’s been so tough.  A week ago Sunday night Ellie did attempt to stab Lizzie with a steak knife.  She ended up just slicing Lizzie’s  finger, but that was incredibly scary to me.  A few nights later I was at a city council meeting when I received a text that read, “This is Lizzie.” Right away, I knew it wasn’t Lizzie because Lizzie texts me all the time on the home phone and she never begins her texts that way.  It was followed by the most filthy, dirty name calling I’ve ever heard come out of any of my kids’ mouths (or fingers, in this case).  I left the meeting, went home and dealt with her, and made her come back to the meeting with me and sit in the corner of City Hall – nose to the wall.  I’m sure the mayor and council members were convinced I had lost it.  But I was so hurt and so angry with that girl.

It’s been almost a week now and she still refuses to apologize.  She is never remorseful about anything.

I’ve also noticed an increase in tantrums from her.  This is actually pretty new.  For example, yesterday I asked Sam and Ellie to bring in the groceries form the van.  Well, Ellie stood there with a bag of Cheetos, calmly eating, and Sam had finally enough.  He took the Cheetos from his sister and told her he’d give them back after the work was done.  You would have thought he’d just tried to break her kneecaps.  Ellie threw a fit that would made any 18 month old proud, complete with extended shrieking, crying, and nose running.  The only word I could think of was, “primal” as I observed this.  She was SO angry. There’s been a couple of incidents like this in recent weeks.

And then today, as I walking through the school hallways after dropping the kids off, Ellie’s teacher caught me and asked if we could talk.  She expressed  concerns about some “sneakiness” and she said even some defiance she is starting to observe in my girl.  She asked if I was seeing these things.  I may have laughed, but not in a ha-ha way.  Ellie’s leaking.  The icky heart stuff she has been careful to only show us is beginning to ooze out at school.  I hope she gets nailed there.  I mean, I don’t because I still want to protect her, but I am so tired of doing this alone, too.  I got out to my van and cried all the way home.

I did have to kind of laugh, though, recently, when Sam volunteered to pray at suppertime.  He thanked God for the food and then, to my surprise, he prayed, “I pray you would fix Ellie’s heart.”  Sam paused for a moment or two and then added, “Because, God – she’s just rotten!” 

Besides this new book, I do have a lead on someone here in the state that may be able to help Ellie.  I first saw my new counselor three weeks ago and she had mentioned this person and then I saw her again this past Monday.  We spent most of the hour talking about Ellie because that is what is most pressing on my heart at the moment and my counselor mentioned this other lady again.  This  time she told me her name and that caught my attention because it is the same last name as one of Will’s best friends.  In fact, this young man has been in our home numerous times and he was a groomsman in the wedding.  So, when I left my session (which was very good and helpful) I texted Will and asked, “What’s Matt’s mom’s name?” I about fell over when he replied, “Sydney.”  It’s the same woman as my counselor was recommending.  I’ve known her son for years and had no idea his mother works with troubled children.  When I got home I looked her up on Facebook and she just got an advanced degree from Faith this past year.  She just wrote a book on domestic abuse, too, that came out last month.  Will said, “Yeah, she knows all about our family!”  I doubt she knows Ellie is trying to kill us, but wow!  So, I think I’m going to have my counselor make the initial contact and Will said he could set me up on Skype so I could talk with this lady.  And maybe she will be a source of help, too.  It seems too coincidental to think she would not be.

I don’t want my blog to turn into the Ellie Channel.  There is more in my life besides her.  Neither am I going to let her steal my joy.  I found myself convicted last week that I am getting to that point where I am so consumed by her bad behavior that it colors my perspective on my life in general.  She may never, ever change and I’m not willing to sacrifice my enjoyment of life because of that.  I must learn to live joyfully in spite of her negativity.


After I wrote all this last night I happened to see a post in my Facebook RAD group.  This is the only RAD group I am part of any longer because it is the only group that seems to offer shreds of hope.  But even those moms get pretty worn down.  Oh, side note:  I read a news story just this morning about an adoptive mom in S. Carolina or Florida – somewhere south of here – who murdered all 4 of her adopted children and then took her own life recently.  Such a tragedy.  I know what was  happening in that home.  Ok, so anyway, last night a mom posted about her inability to touch, hug, and show affection to her Radlet. I totally understand that, as did a number of other mothers who chimed in.  But then one woman piped up and her situation is a little different.  She was a RAD child and says that while she still has to fight those urges from her childhood, she is healed today as an adult and is actually a child psychiatrist now.  She begged all of us moms to “fake it until we make it.”  She said the child will do everything in his power to create chaos and hurt family members, but deep down, he is craving that physical affection.  At the same time, there is a perverse desire to see just how bad he can be and have his mother still reach out to hug him.  I’m going to take those words to heart.

Of course, it’s easier right now while she’s at school and I am sitting in my quiet house with the sun peacefully streaming through the windows.  Nobody is swearing at me, nobody is hurting their siblings, or refusing to do her chores, or whining,  or destroying things.  The real test of this comes later.

This morning when I walked the kids into school I got stopped by the mother of the student I worked with last week (shoe thrower).  She had heard about her son’s behavior and wanted to apologize.  I assured her all was fine, but felt bad for her.  I can kind of empathize with her.
So I did my monthly grocery shopping this week.  I needed more spaghetti sauce and boy, was my hand trembling as I reached for those jars this time!  This was a better month for spaghetti sauce, thankfully!  But I did notice that Aldis was selling pumpkin flavored spaghetti sauce.  Eww!  And Walmart had pumpkin flavored corn flakes.  Again – no!  I like pumpkin.  I even made two pumpkin pies last weekend.  Ben decided he needed to take half of one back to his house, but we’ve been enjoying what he left.  But there are limits to what should be pumpkin flavored. Cornflakes and spaghetti sauce fall firmly outside those limits!
I had a migraine Sunday.   This was probably the worst one I’ve had since high school.  I am dead serious.  It was so bad I wanted to beat my head into the wall.  It was accompanied by the mother of all hot flashes (it was 65 in my house and I was suddenly dripping with sweat). The two were obviously connected and obviously hormonal in nature.  All I could do was stay in bed and keep popping my migraine pills.  After about 4 of those and by mid afternoon I was gradually starting to feel a little more human.  I wonder why such suffering is necessary for the young body to dry up and turn old?  Why can’t the transition be seamless instead?  Probably part of the Curse, I guess.  I think I am going to make an appt with my gynecologist.  I don’t need her messing around with my lady parts (although she’ll probably insist on that) but I’d like some tips on managing this transition.  My counselor is highly suggesting I do this.  It was funny.  She said, “I can give you the name of a really wonderful dr here in town!” – and it was my dr I’ve seen since I was pregnant with Sam!

So, yeah, last week was a tougher week.  But then on Saturday, the mail came and a package for me arrived.  I was mystified because I had not ordered anything.  If Ellie was older I might have held it up to listen for ticking noises first… But a tag identified it as coming from Single Parent Provision.  Inside were all kinds of goodies – candy, a mug, decorations, bath stuff, and a card that read, “You are loved.”  I had no idea that organization did this kind of thing.  God knew exactly what I needed when I needed it.

And that’s what I wrote about this week.  My pastor asked me to write something for the Nov. church newsletter.   The obvious subject is thankfulness, but my mind kept going to this subject of God’s goodness.  And that’s what I ended up writing about.  God is good when we don’t understand, when things aren’t fair, when others sin against us.  He is good because He can only be good and therefore everything that comes into our life is for our good, too -

even menopause and  Reactive Attachment Disorder.


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