Danielle is away at respite.
Originally, I'd planned not to write about this publicly, but when I saw how Baggage is feeling incredibly alone because her child has been placed in RTC, I figured I should say something.
Our child is away at respite, because her verbal and physical aggression has been increasing exponentially. Since the July 4th weekend, when she made some horrifically bad choices, things have been incredibly, unbelievably difficult.
Add to that a betrayal on the part of a professional and another unfounded child abuse investigation, and we've had the perfect storm of unpleasantness.
I hate that we had to send our child away again. We shouldn't have to put our kid in respite. Normal families don't live with the absolute chaos, and the level of verbal and physical abuse that we regularly experience at the hands of our child. Although many parents might sigh with pleasure at the thought of having some time alone when their kids go away for a slumber party, I don't imagine that most parents are genuinely relieved at the thought their children will be gone for a period of time.
The truth is, I have become afraid of my child. I am afraid of her violence, her false accusations, and her manipulations. Even when things are going well, I feel anxious, because past experience has taught me that things can go from good to extremely bad in an instant.
When we left her with the respite provider, she barely said goodbye. Although there were hugs exchanged with everyone as we left, she declined to participate. As we drove away, we waved. Everyone waved back but our child. She stood there on the porch, stony eyed and unmoving, as she watched us drive away.
As angry as she was when we left her, she had been carrying on since before school ended about how much she wanted to be somewhere, anywhere, else. When we finally selected a respite care provider, she carried on about how much she couldn't stand living here, how much she was looking forward to leaving, and how she wished she could move in with our friends forever.
It's a sad situation that the child escalated her behaviors to the point where it's best for all of us that she be somewhere else for while, but then feels angry about the outcome that she created.
At any rate, she'll probably have more fun in respite than she will here. There, she'll have the company of a stay-at-home mom and several younger children. Here, she has few friends, nowhere that she can go unsupervised, and two parents who have to work all day.
Although I'm breathing a definite sigh of relief at the idea of a break, I am also anxious because I worry that Danielle's destructive behaviors may arise while she is gone. Of course she will honeymoon, at least for a while, but I still worry.
Our friends, thankfully, have seen our child in action. They know her behaviors and think they can handle them. Most likely, she'll keep it together for the majority of her visit, since most children tend to behave better away than they do at home.
It just saddens and frustrates me that we see this in such huge extremes. It's a terrible thing that our child's angel times are uniquely reserved for relative strangers, while anger, tantrums and physical abuse are what we regularly experience at home.
I sometimes wonder if our child is even capable of understanding how much hurt and fear she has created in this family. If she understood, would she care enough to stop? If she cared, would she be able to put an end to the violence?
Summer often seems to be one of the hardest times of the year for our family. The unstructured time, combined with a complete lack of constructive things for teens to do in our town, and the fact that FosterEema and I are occupied with work during the day, makes for a bad combination. Summer vacation is supposed to be a time when parents can fully enjoy their children, but this often seems to be our child's season of restlessness, discontent, conflict and violence. As a family, we all dread the end of the school year, and pray for the beginning of the next to come soon.
During the break, we are all thankful for whatever respite we can manage.
Like Baggage, we feel alone.
It shouldn't be this way. We were supposed to live happily ever after.
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