A Preschool Conference.

The new preschool year is upon us for Bubbly and GigantoBaby (the Diva won’t start until next year, thank God.  I’m not ready, and she isn’t either).  GigantoBaby went to school for quite a bit of the summer, now he’ll begin his 4-K year.  Bubbly will enter the 3-year-old program.  Bubbly didn’t get to go to school for part of the summer, because she decided to go all vampire and start biting the other children.  I know vampires are trendy right now, but they’re frowned upon in preschool settings.  We pulled her out of school and started more therapy again to figure out why the heck this behavior would manifest itself again now when she hasn’t been doing this since shortly after she came home.

We have decided that it might have been a transition thing for her.  The Duo have been home for almost six months now.  This is always when things start to go whacky again.  ResponsiBoy, like clockwork, always becomes more emotional at this mile marker, as if he realizes that he needs more because these other people aren’t leaving.  Maybe Bubbly feels that way too?  Who knows.  So, we discussed it with her therapist, with OT and with her.  We talked and talked and talked about feelings, about why she might feel sad or frustrated.  It got to the point that she (and I) are sick of talking about our feelings.  

Next week she’ll go back to preschool.  But, she’ll go on opposite days from GigantoBaby.  They need a break from each other.  She will only go for three hours per day, two days per week and we had a face to face conference yesterday to discuss a “plan” for her.  The conference was rather telling.  This is my first time having any sort of preschool conference that wasn’t filled with glowing reports of my child, their manners, their intelligence and our parenting.  I’m not trying to toot my own horn, I just got lucky in the past.  My kids are great.  It has little to do with me and a lot to do with them.  Not that the Preschool Director and Teacher don’t love Bubbly.  They do.  They think she is funny, cute and very smart.  She has deficits though too.  She is rough, her body movements are exaggerated and she has trouble regulating her emotions.  It was hard to hear that.  It’s hard to see it written out in black and white.  It’s hard to hear “IEP and special education” in the same sentence with your child’s name.

When I get the most frustrated with Bubbly (and I’m not perfect, I do get frustrated), I’ll ask her why she did what she just did.  Our preschool Director summed it up perfectly when she told me that it is obvious that Bubbly has no clue why Bubbly does these things.  She doesn’t know why she bites people, she has no idea why she sweats and shrieks when the lights are too dim, she doesn’t know why she panics when snack doesn’t come precisely at 10am.  I know why, and now they know why too.   It’s sad that even though Bubbly can’t put into words what happened to her, she doesn’t even remember it, the feelings are still there.  The feeling of having to fight like an animal for a “toy” (and I use that term loosely in regards to what she played with at the orphanage) or food, the feeling of being alone and scared in the dark, and the feeling of hunger are all daily reminders for Bubbly.  Daily reminders of what she lived through between the age of 2 and 3 years old.  She might never remember why these things make her sweat and panic, but according to research, she will always have some sort of reaction to these triggers.  It won’t be a reaction like I might have in the same situation.  This is her reality now.

The Preschool staff and I have all discussed Bubbly’s beginnings and the abuse.  When we first discussed it, they were dumbfounded.  Yet it explained SO much of what Bubbly does that it was like a light bulb had been flicked on.  But, hearing it, well, it made the teacher cry.  She sat in the conference, the one we had in April when the abuse was first “discovered”, and wept.  By then, I was numb.  She was not.  She cried, and then apologized for being unprofessional, but she felt like she needed to hug Bubbly.  We all feel like that.

Look at this face?  Who wouldn’t want to hug and kiss her?

Her story is the story of millions of children, all over the world.  There are children who are beaten, abused and neglected all over.  Children who don’t ever get to come to a loving family where they have therapy and parents who would walk through fire to see them heal.  There are millions of moms who have it far “worse” than I do when it comes to their children’s special needs.  But, I am her mom.  Yesterday, she was the only one that mattered to me.  So, while I know I am not alone in hearing what I did yesterday…it sure feels that way.  
–FullPlateMom,
who feels like shouting at God “maybe I’m not strong enough?!?” and “Why her?!?”.  

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5 Comments

  1. I for SURE want to hug and kiss her! She is a precious, beautiful little girl and I can see her sweetness in every picture.

    One of my boys has an IEP, and while it is hard to say and hear that sometimes, it has made a world of difference in his education in just one year. He no longer feels “dumb” or “weird” because he is now learning things HIS way and it works so much better. Try to see it as a special toolbox that Bubbly gets to carry to school every day. She has an advantage over the rest of her class, because she gets to learn in the way that you all know is BEST for her, just her. Nobody else. She’s a Rock Star!

    You are blessed for Bubbly’s teachers to love her so much already that her story brought them to tears. I would be very concerned with ANY person who did not have that reaction. Efia is similarly blessed this year, and I know that God put her right where she needs to be. Do I anticipate a rough year? Oh heck yes, I do, but I know that she is making progress and starting to trust and love. This year will be a little bit better than last year and next year will be a little bit better again.

  2. Mark Shultz, edited for you…

    I’m down on my knees again tonight
    I’m hoping this prayer will turn out right
    See there is a girl that needs Your help
    I’ve done all that I can do myself
    Her mother is tired
    I’m sure You can understand
    Each night as she sleeps
    She goes in to hold her hand
    And she tries not to cry
    As the tears fill her eyes

    CHORUS:
    Can You hear me?
    Am I getting through tonight?
    Can You see her?
    Can You make her feel all right?
    If You can hear me
    Let me take her place somehow
    See, she’s not just anyone
    She’s my beloved one

    Sometimes late at night I watch her sleep
    I dream of the girl she’d like to be
    I try to be strong and see her through
    But God who she needs right now is You
    Let her grow old
    Live life without this fear
    What would I be
    Living without her here
    She’s so tired and she’s scared
    Let her know that You’re there

    CHORUS

    Can You hear me?
    Can You see her?
    Please don’t leave her
    She’s my beloved one

  3. I love, love, love Bubby and so does every one of my children. How can you not when she throws her arms around you and squeezes tightly? She is so worth it and your family is meant to be the ones who bring her around. I know this!

  4. You ARE an amazing mom. I believe that is why God sent her to your family. It is so hard to watch as they struggle, wishing it could be over sooner than later. Like my mom said to me & I say to them, “I wish I could snap my fingers and make it all better,” but I can’t – so I will stay here and hold onto you until it is.”
    We get automatic responses from our two as well. We can’t potty train Sufi, because things trigger this desperate need to drink bottles and bottles of water – even in the middle of the night & frequently. Stress of any kind triggers this response. Even though Sufi has no recollection of any sort of Ghana – none whatsoever – to this day any percieved stress or fear he feels brings triggers a desperate need to drink bottles of water at a time.
    Hold on!!! You are strong enough. You will make it and so will she. She is such a fighter too! I do love her!!!
    Shannon – loved the poem – it made me cry!

  5. P.S. Have you read “The Boy who was raised as a dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing?” By Bruce Perry.
    This is really helping me see and understand how our sweet ones’ brains are processing what they have endured. This was recommended to me by others who are further down the path in helping heal their children. As we are working to help the boys – I am seeing the difference to how to behaviourally train them to do good versus helping them to heal deep down – even when they don’t get “why” they behave such ways. The author-a Psychologist- presents many stories of healing and processes the brain goes through under severe trauma. I like it because it does not give graphic horrors their trauma- but focuses on how the trauma affects the brain and their responses as well as things to help through the healing. I am better understanding, that although Sufi doesn’t remember and is mostly a happy boy – that some behaviours are still related to the trauma he underwent in his first year. It has opened a whole new world how we see Kofi’s issues as well. Just thought to recommend it.
    Many prayers for you and yours

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