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You Want a Piece of Me?

Sometimes as parents we just don’t know what to do. Today is one of those days. The last week has been one of those weeks. Actually this past year has been one of those years. Who am I kidding? I’ve really never known what to do. I did the best I knew how most times, and sometimes I didn’t even do the best I could. I was too exhausted, too warn out and sometimes took the easy way out by letting the kids have their way. It happens. I am going to be posting a few short blogs to ease the load or overload of frustration and anger building inside me. I hear anger causes illness and disease and who wants those things, right? Stick with me through this (or don’t if you’re a person who can only hear positive things). These blogs are real. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect and we WILL survive this stuff, even in spite of the blame and judgment directed our way by others, or more importantly ourselves.

I picked the girls up at their day program today as usual. You may need a little background here to understand. My daughters, Hannah and Melissa, attend a day program for adults with special needs. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to get to know Hannah she is dynamite packed into a four-and-a-half-foot, eighty pound package at age twenty-six. She looks so darn sweet and innocent and then when you’re least expecting it she goes in for the attack. She grabs clothing, pulls hair, scratches, head bumps or grabs and throws glasses off unsuspecting victims.  I mean this with a sense of humor, but it’s anything but funny if you are on the receiving end. I have never been on the receiving end, but lots of innocent folks have been. When asked what I do about it I don’t have an answer because she doesn’t do this to me. I don’t understand this behavior, can’t seem to find a trigger, a reason or a way to stop it, and it comes on quickly and goes away just as fast.  

When I picked up the girls today I got into a conversation with Melissa’s aid and for a moment let Hannah slip out of my view. There was someone else picking up a client from the program at the same time and apparently Hannah grabbed her clothing. She didn’t hurt her, but the woman was obviously angry. I really hate these awkward moments, when my child has done something which seems so blatantly and intentionally planned and cruel. I asked if Hannah got her and the response from the woman was first directed at me with anger, then at Hannah. She put up her fists to Hannah and said, “You want a piece of me?” She was not kidding. Well, maybe she was kidding about the actual brawl, but she was visibly angry. I don’t blame her, but I didn’t like it either. I apologized repeatedly, but as I walked away I visualized myself rolling up my sleeves and going back over to her and asking her the same question she asked my daughter. Then I took a deep breath, walked on, loaded the girls into the van and went home.

I don’t really expect people to understand, especially things I don’t understand myself. It’s a frustration that will likely be with me forever. It doesn’t feel good to be the one blamed for her behavior but how can I not feel responsible in some way? As her mom, I would like to be able to stop it, explain it, or make it go away. I would also like to find out why she does these things so I could relieve whatever it is inside of her that causes her to lash out. For all the pain she causes others, there may be pain inside of her, physical or emotional, I don’t know about. There is certainly a history of which I will never know because she is adopted, some of which includes abuse and neglect. Is this the reason for her behavior? Is it physical pain? Is she trying to tell me something? I don’t know. There is no conclusion to this blog. It’s just me, once again, trying to express…   



8 Responses

  1. Thank you Pam. With you in spirit and sending you love.

  2. PS: Also, from a distance, seeing this episode in my mind’s eye, I feel most sorry for the woman who said that. “You want a piece of me”. What an odd thing to say. How sad, right? How quick she seemed to go to rage. I recommend taking deep breaths and breathing her energy out. (Hate to be all pop psychology-ish here, but if her rage response is “you want a piece of me” it might mean she is afraid of being pulled apart, piece by piece. Worried that someone could make her house of cards fall down…fast. You know what I mean?)

  3. Jennifer, I DO know what you mean!! I was shocked and was already exhausted and really rather speechless. Yes, It’s a sad response, and I like what you said (pop psychology and all). So true.

  4. I think that we all have some level of frustration or emotions that none of us are perfect at expressing. Some people are less graceful about it than others.. People with special needs have an automatic disadvantage during those times as it can be hard enough for them to express themselves on a “normal” level more often than not. I think that any lady who was anywhere near the adult clinic, as staff, family, friend, or even a neighbor, should have some understanding of that to start. Or she has no business being within reach of people who cant interact “to her standards” without compassion and a bit of understanding for why these people are at the center to begin with, really…. its her issue more than anyone elses, I feel. Granted we all feel responsible for our children and their behaviour, and wouldnt life be grand if all of our kids were perfectly behaved all the time.. but that is as unrealistic as claiming that we were, too. No one is perfect, no one reflects the ideal form of expression, no one can ever understand what someone else faces internally, but nor should anyone be so damn judgemental or so quick to react with such a hostile response… Kind of appears that SHE needs to work on her form of expressing too? We are all in the same boat, just on different levels… (sorry for rambling) That said… hang in there my friend, I think you do a marvelous job. You have made it 26 years farther than most people have the heart to attempt. You are an amazing mother!

  5. We also have an adult daughter given to “random acts of violence,” who has, on occasion, injured people to the point that medical care was necessary. It is impossible, as parents, not to feel on some level responsible for these outbursts, even though we have never taught her to behave this way, or found a way to make her understand when her behavior is inappropriate. Certainly, others have been, at times, quick to accuse and blame, and to offer their parenting “advice” and frank opinions about both our daughter and us. What a perfect prescription for a parental roller coaster of emotions—everything from mortification, stinging embarrassment, and sympathy for the victim, to heartache for our child, and anger at society that there is no place for a family like ours to “have a life.” There simply is no way to find the balance between our daughter’s need, or right, to participate in the world beyond our home, and other people’s right to feel safe from attack, because our daughter does not understand the generally accepted rules of “playing nice” out in society. In other times and places, she would have been a prisoner in her own home, or locked away from others for life. There is no solution here that can please everyone, and parents of children with behavior challenges will never be able to completely escape the criticism and scorn of those parents blessed with “perfect” children. I wish there was a way to make those who would judge us understand the one huge thing we have in common: we love our children fiercely, and want for them the very best life possible. (And if you can’t understand that, at least understand this: we are overstressed and under-rested, emotionally vulnerable and battle-weary, and may not, therefore, always respond “appropriately” to your disgust or anger…!)

  6. pam, your hurt and heart are so connected. that makes you the best you can be in any situation always. accept the blessings that your beautiful children offer all of the us the chance to grow when we encounter them. ask for peace and know you will receive it. know that others who respond in certain ways will grow or remain stagnant. your family, including you has chosen an awesome responsibility on our planet for love, healing and growth. i see that when i read your posts etc. i am sure others see the incredible gifts being offered from your family as well. if you can remember to see everything that happens is for the perfection of each child of God, things that appear to be negative or harmful will become beautiful in your eyes. love and light.

  7. Well, Pam, I too have been in this caretaking role with my son for going on 13 years. Unlike others, I can’t take a deep breathe and attribute it to someone’s ignorance or frustration or whatever. After Adam’s near drown (25 minutes underwater at a camp run by a local college), one of the trustees and the president came over to our house to see us (not that they really cared, but were trying the nice act to avoid litigation). The trustee said to us while we were holding Adam. “My, he doesn’t look like a vegetable”; I could only respond by saying “And, my you don’t look like an a$$hole, lady.” Since that day, I have never been able to stop myself from being nasty back to nasty people when it comes to my son. Maybe someday, but I’m 63 now, I will learn to breathe…I doubt it.

  8. Oh Philip I love your response! I need to learn to speak up!!

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