Friday, June 11, 2010

FASers & learning lessons

I do promise the rest of the awards post & adoption anniversary post soon.  Just been SO, SO busy lately.  A quickie update here.  Bulgaria is wanting our dossier ASAP.  Well, wanting it like yesterday!  No lie.  Remember, we sent in a mini one a few months ago.  Money was the hold up to get our homestudy done & that is what put us way behind.  Frustrating but it happens.  Anyhow, I was needing to take a parenting class.  Yeh, right.  No, I'm serious!  Not trying to be snippy or "greater than thou" attitude, but if you have 7 kids, purposefully want more, I think we can assume we know what the heck we're getting into by now. 

I do understand new parents.  Shoot, we were there once.  But, no.  I can safely state we are parents.  Normal parents.  Yes, we make mistakes sometimes.  But, we fix them as soon as we can.  Our last adoption w/ Alyona & Nik I think confirmed us as parents in the Moscow Embassy.  You know, where you all gather to get that golden ticket home?  Well, we're all sitting there w/ our new kids.  I could spot the new parents right away.  The ones holding their children so lovingly and staring at me like I'm insane.  Really, they were.  Maybe it was b/c I was explaining to Alyona not to stare at the man in the window w/ a missing hand/ deformed hand as her brother has the same thing at home & a missing leg.  Or maybe it was b/c I was tossing Nik up in the air like a pizza & grabbing him by one arm.  It was the end of the trip.  So,after one of the stares I said "I promise I won't break him."  A little sassy but tired of the staring.  I think that is when you realize you are a real parent.  You don't care what the other parents think, you are just there for your child's well-being.  And, if that means entertaining them in a boring room by tossing them up in the air, so be it. 

Yes, I do think I have this parenting thing down pat.  Why just today I was nominated as the "worst mommy ever!"  Why you ask?  Well, because Alex said so.  Okay, we all know it is the first day of summer break.  FAS kids do not do so great w/ transitions and the end of school is one of these transitions.  Alex & Alyona were fighting in the pool.  Calling each other names and just plain being nasty.  Told them to get out  They continued.  Fine.  Time for punishment.  You two have to work on something together to learn how to get along.  Go clean up Alex's room together.  They start throwing stuff at each other.  Typical.  I expected this.  So, they come out again to me.  (I was swimming laps in the pool at the time)  I said here 's the deal.  You two are only allowed to play w/ each other the rest of the day.  No friends over.  Just each other.  You ahve to sit by each other at dinner.  BTW, I did this while I made them hold hands. Oh, the horror of it all.  LOL.  Alex threw a complete fit.  Full fledge tantrum.  Not a RAD rage thank goodness but had the markings of becoming one for sure.  Anyhow, Alex stormed off.  Came out awhile later.  NEVER chase down a child w/ FAS or RAD when in that mood.  It will only exasperate the issue.  We never, ever go after them.  Never.  So, he comes back & starts to play w/ Alyona.  Go figure.  Later, he said, it's fun to play w/ her.  They laughed the rest of the afternoon instead of screaming & mauling each other.  Small sign of success.  Okay, till the next sibling fight appears.

That was one lesson learned.  FASers have a hard time learning lessons.  They really do.  It is partially due to lack of cause & effect thinking and partially due to being a stubborn kid.  I am one of those parents who does NOT blame everything on my kid's disorder.  I have seen it many times before.  I don't think it is good for the kids at all.  Just my opinion though.  I'm honest w/ my kids.  They don't like being told a monkey can do it better.  Why do I say that?  It sounds so mean, right?  No.  They understand what a monkey(something concrete that they can imagine) is and therefore want to prove me wrong by proving they can do it.  It works and in this house, we do what works.  Period.  With having 6 of them having FAS, you go w/ what works as not to lose your sanity.  Now, don't think I'm calling them a monkey.  I'm not.  There's more to it than that.  I would never call my kids a monkey.  Hope I'm explaining what I mean okay.  Don't want anyone to get the wrong idea.  Anyhow, this whole week is an out of routine week.  It was the last week of school. Schedules were off, they were feeding the kids crap at school & they have gone haywire.  Reasoning abilities gone.  Want to guess what happened here:

I do not like showing my kids in this manner but feel it is part of being honest of what living with FAS is like on a daily basis.  Arms are folded.  No eye contact.  Mind has been set.  Voice is angry.  What some of you don't know is I randomly search the kids' backpacks and clothing.  Sure enough, Max was trying to take his new camera to school w/ him.  Normally, not a problem. However, we had told him not to take it and he had lied to us.  See, FAS children are easily manipulated by others.  Just a fact.  His school has rampant theft and I knew he'd most likely lose it.  But, main reason here is the lying about it.  For those new to FAS, when they get in this mood, do not back down.  Approach your child w/ caution but w/ a you mean business face.  Now, since most children w/ FAS have processing issues, when you say something, you let it sink in for about 15 seconds before you say another sentence.  It helps.  We start by getting Max to unfold his arms.  Warren has to "test" him to see how cooperative or mad Max is before we can proceed w/ our plan of action.  Depending upon his level of anger, depends upon how we handle the situation.  Sometimes, you just have to sit it out a bit.  Warren asked Max to uncross his arms & then left to "go get a drink."  He wants to see how far Max will listen.  You can not talk to a very anger FAS child.  You just can't.  When the kids get like this, we have to first gage how cooperative they will be.  He was extremely angry that we wouldn't let him take it to school yet.  But, we did not.  They are not victims no matter how much your FAS child will convince you or anyone else(teachers) that they are.  Know the signs.  When we talk to our FAS children during one of their "situations," we are matter of fact.  Do not show emotion.  Do not.  They can not relate emotion into many abstract concepts or morality issues.  The hardest part of this for me is being patient.  It really is hard.  You wish they'd understand but they don't.   For Max, the lesson of lying was learned.  You must give consequences immediately for FAS children.  Must.  Again, I am NO expert by any means.  Just sharing what works & doesn't work for us as we get asked all the time.  

Along w/ lessons, you must give praise where praise is due.  I will talk more in depth about this in another post.  Today, Yana and Max scrubbed the entire front porch w/out being asked at all.  They just thought it looked like it needed it.  It really, really did.  But, my kids love being praised for a job well done.  shoot, who doesn't?  LOL.  Seriously though, even if you've had a horrible week w/ your kid, give them at least one positive thing they did that week.  Thanks for getting dressed everyday.  I mean it can be so simple.  FAS kids are always tending to get in more trouble b/c of lack of judgement.  So, having something good to say about your kids, does help.  They like physical touch, even the older ones.  Hug generously.  Yes, even the teens need it once in a while.  Just not when friends are around of course.  LOL. 

More lessons here.  Want to guess what any of them are?

Even Dad is getting in on this lesson.  Any idea what it is yet?

Any ideas yet what the lesson is or who it is for?  Okay, so Bojan once again does not have a shirt on.  Nothing new and no, that is not the lesson.  That tacky flower lamp is the one Alyona & I found at the yardsale.  It is the one that will go into the new girls' room.  Warren thinks it belongs in a Brady Bunch episode. 

This lesson was for Yana.  Learning not to slouch.  She slouches so badly that everyone thinks she is depressed.  It is horrible.  So, you have to approach any critical comment w/ a RAD/ FAS child w/ caution.  Why?  Because they do NOT take criticism well.  At all.  Trust me on this.  It's true.  Even if innocently presented.  So, we told her the way people should walk and then all had fun w/ the books on the head.  You have to sometimes make a game out of something to explain it to our FASers.  Give them something to remember.  This is true of many things that can come up.  FAS kids are all very visual learners.  As you can see, she was having fun w/ this and not angry about it.  We all actually had fun trying.  

The reason I'm writing some of these things about my kids w/ FAS is b/c I know many have this misconception about FAS.   That somehow it is all bad, the kids are horrible and you can't parent them.  it's not all bad.  Though some days, I'll be feels like it is.  You have to find what works as a parent.  There are tons of experts out there.  I am not one of them.  However, I have daily experience w/ multiple children w/ FAS.  I know what makes them tick and what makes them ticked off.  You don't have to feel like you are walking on eggshells as an FAS parent.  Find what works.  Doesn't matter what others think.  They are not the parents.  You are.  Society will not cut them a break later in life.  Allow them to know what the "real" world will be like.  Dont' sugar coat anything.  It does not do them any good.  My kids know they have this disorder and what brain damage it has caused them.  FAS kids an succeed in life and lead a wonderful life.  It may not be what you dreamed for them, but it can be good.  FAS children have many lessons to learn in life.  OUrs are not near done.  I hope we are doing the right thing by them.  I really do.  My kids are good kids.  None have been in trouble w/ the law.  None have been to RTC.  None have behavioral issues in school.  They are doing what I would consider well.  No, none date.  However, we limit our kids very much so as due to their reasoning abilities.  Keep in mind when you have an FAS child, you can count on their mental/ emotional age being about half of their chronological age.  This helps us gage how to handle certain life lessons for our children.  I kown this was long.  Maybe something on here can help another FAS parent as well.  Don't know.  Maybe I'm all wrong.  Again, I am NOT an expert nor do I claim to be.  Just when you find something that works as an FAS parent, you want others to know.  Parenting these children is not easy.  I'm not going to lie.  It takes a lot out of a parent.  But, seeing them handle situations on their own, is priceless.  If any other FAS parents have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  We are always open to trying new methods w/ our children.  Have a great evening.  Small errands and cleaning up tomorrow.  Then, a cookout w/ friends.  More to come later.  Have a great weekend everyone!

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