Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lunch Triangulation

Ah, the ongoing saga of school lunches.

Yesterday, Danielle's teacher e-mailed to tell me that Danielle had gone to school for the second day in a row with no lunch and no money to buy lunch.  Danielle had reported she was tired and dizzy.  The teacher sought my input.

I replied with the obvious: Please remind Danielle that it is her responsibility to pack a lunch.

This morning, the teacher e-mailed me to say that she had already done that, several times, and that Danielle had given her the same answers (she had a lunch or she wasn't hungry) that she'd given us.

And then?

The teacher admitted she had loaned Danielle the money to buy lunch, but that she couldn't make a practice of it.

I didn't say this, but I thought to myself, Honey, you have just been had!

I told the teacher that I thought Danielle was simply trying to manipulate everyone (teacher/us) into buying her lunch at the school cafeteria.  I explained that it's far less expensive for Danielle to make use of the food we have available here than to spend $5/day on school lunches.

There is no shortage of food here at the house.  At almost 17 years old, we can't force Danielle to make use of the food that's available.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sex and Lunch

This past weekend Danielle was involved in more drama.

I had been gone, spending the day with an old friend.  When I returned home, she met me out on the driveway to tell me that she had been "triggered" by something that had happened.

Here's the story as Danielle told it.  I'm not entirely sure of the tale's veracity, but here it is...

Danielle was spending the night with her friend.  On Saturday afternoon, Danielle, her friend, and her friend's boyfriend gathered in her friend's room.  Danielle decided to take a nap.  When she awoke, she opened her eyes to find her friend having intercourse with her boyfriend.

Now, to add a bit of context to this, Danielle's friend is two years younger.  She is also developmentally delayed.  The boyfriend is also a special education student.  There is also some question as to whether or not the kids used a condom.

Danielle could have put a stop to what was going on.  She could have told the girl's mother, as she knew her friend wasn't supposed to be having sex, especially given her age and cognitive disabilities.  The parents were home, but they have several other young children.  The house is noisy and chaotic enough that they could easily have missed the goings-on in the bedroom.

And of course, Danielle was in the room with the other two kids, so everyone would assume nothing untoward would happen, right?

Danielle sat on the news for 24 hours before telling us.

And, because the girl in question is two years under the magic age of 17, she must go to her doctor for a prescription for the morning after pill.

Danielle knew that what her friend was doing was unquestionably wrong.  I told her that by sitting by and doing nothing, it was the same as condoning the behavior.  I told her that I was angry, disappointed, and embarrassed that she didn't stop her friend and tell her mother immediately.  The girl's mother was in the next room when all this was happening.  She is, quite understandably, pretty distraught.

I suppose I shouldn't expect Danielle to make good decisions, so perhaps I shouldn't really be disappointed.  I just keep hoping, beyond hope, that she'll eventually get it and start making better choices.

* * * 

Today there was a little bit of drama coming from the school.  I received an e-mail from Danielle's teacher saying that today was the second day in a row that Danielle didn't bring a lunch or lunch money to school.  She said that Danielle was complaining of being dizzy and tired.

The teacher asked for our input.

I politely e-mailed back, explaining that Danielle is responsible for packing her own lunch.  I also mentioned that her lunch is frequently a control battle.  When we ask her about it, she usually tells us that either a) she already packed it, or b) she's not hungry and won't eat anyway.

I suggested that the teacher might want to remind Danielle that packing a lunch is her responsibility.  Given that lunch is such a control battle, I figured the reminder coming from her might be better received than it would be coming from us.

So that's what I said.

Here's what I thought:

Danielle is almost 17 years old.  She is perfectly capable of putting together her own lunch and I am just not going to engage in a control battle over this issue.  I suspect that the real truth is Danielle is trying to manipulate us into giving her a lunch card, which she's asked for several times.

I don't know if this is the case for all schools, but at Danielle's school the lunch card is essentially a credit card.  There are no spending limits.  A child can purchase as much as she likes, and at the end of the month, the parents get the bill.

Given that we have a kid who doesn't comply with doing her chores, who displays a bad attitude whenever possible, and who we can't trust to obey rules, I have only one answer when asked about a lunch card:

No, no, and hell no.

Pack a lunch, kid.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Tearful Apology

Yesterday afternoon, Danielle called my stepmother to apologize for her lie.  She sobbed out her tearful apology, saying that she had made a mistake and had "misunderstood" something that we said.

My stepmother seemed pretty gracious in accepting the apology, but she did ask Danielle if it was really a misunderstanding, or if it was just a lie.

What did we say that Danielle claimed to misunderstand?

During our family therapy appointment, when it came out that Danielle was off her meds, we said we needed to make sure that my stepmother (or father) actually watched Danielle take her pill, so that we could be sure she wasn't skipping her dose.

How that managed to get twisted into it is my stepmother's fault Danielle wasn't taking her pills is beyond me.

Despite Danielle being back on her medications since Thursday evening, things still aren't back to normal here.  When I tried to talk to Danielle about her lie, she called me a bunch of names, and walked off, shouting some elementary school version of I'm a mirror and everything you stay goes back to you!

Real mature.  This coming from an almost-17-year-old.

An hour later, Danielle came back and tearfully apologized to me as well.  I accepted her apology, but I also realize that her apologies are absolutely meaningless.

As I wrote about in my old blog, there are three components to an apology:

  1. The apology itself.
  2. Making amends for the wrongdoing.
  3. Not repeating the act again.
Danielle's an absolute pro at the first item on the list, but I can't think of a time where she's managed to complete the other two.

Sure, she might be extremely sorry in the moment, but all of the regret in the world doesn't seem to be sufficient to motivate her to change her behavior.

Nothing changes her behavior.

Maybe she's just not capable.  Certainly her doctors, therapist and teachers think she should be able to do better.

Me?  I don't know.  I worry about her future.  In 13 months, she'll turn 18, and she'll be out on her own.  FosterEema and I have had some long, hard talks lately, and we both agree we are going to ask Danielle to leave (if she doesn't go on her own accord) when she becomes a legal adult.

It's not a decision we like.  Danielle will turn 18 long before she graduates high school.  Although we did discuss the possibility of her staying until she graduates, the latest explosion makes it clear it's not a workable option.

Danielle is currently a minor, so we have no choice but to put up with her fits of temper, defiance, name-calling and episodes of violence.  Once she is 18, we are no longer obligated to put up with this sort of behavior in our home.

We know Danielle won't be ready to launch.

We are tired of being verbally abused and traumatized by our child's rages.

It's not a pretty choice.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Child-Induced Family Drama

Danielle spent all of Saturday and part of Sunday over at my at my father and stepmother's house.  When my stepmother dropped Danielle off, she immediately drove away, instead of coming in to say hello.

We thought it odd.  We especially thought it strange when Danielle said, "Grandma needed to go to the bathroom, so she was in a hurry to get home."

Grandma lives 30 minutes away.  Why wouldn't she just come in and use our bathroom?  I suppose we should have investigated further, but we just shrugged it off.

Later that evening, Grandma's speedy disappearance suddenly made sense.  My father called, asking to speak to FosterEema.  He said that my stepmother was extremely upset over something Danielle had said earlier in the day.

Apparently, Danielle had reported that we blamed my stepmother for Danielle's recent decision to stop taking her medication.

Not true.  FosterEema explained that she had never said that.  I got on the phone and said the same thing.  I asked to speak to my stepmother, but she was still feeling too raw to come to the phone.

Now we have some family drama.

And this morning?  Without prompting, Danielle admitted to having lied to Grandma.

Her justification?

She said she thought that it would be better for Grandma to hear the fictitious news from her, rather than having it come from us.


Friday, September 7, 2012

A Sober Realization

Yesterday evening, we made our regularly-scheduled trip to the family therapist.  One of the things we discussed at that meeting was Danielle's recent explosion.

Danielle admitted to the therapist that she had stopped taking her medication.


She doesn't like taking it, and wanted to see if she could get by without it.

I realize that medical non-compliance is very common among the mentally ill.  I also recognize that Danielle is not safe living in our home without it.

She is almost 17 years old.  We cannot make her take her pills.

At the last appointment, Danielle's psychiatrist instructed us to stop supervising her medication.  She told us that Danielle needs to learn how to manage her medications on her own.

It didn't work out so well.

We are just over a year away from her 18th birthday.  Now that we've witnessed how quickly she decompensates without medication, it is even more abundantly clear that she cannot continue to live here after she becomes an adult.

I hope that we can find some sort of alternative for her that doesn't involve driving her down to the homeless shelter on her 18th birthday.

I am not sure that we can.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Of Meltdowns, School Testing, and Cavities

In the past, the longest we've been able to go without some sort of violent outburst has been about six months.  This time around, we've made it about eight, but it looks like that streak of calm is coming to an end.

Yesterday, Danielle lost it in a big way.  She had a meltdown, complete with crying, screaming, ranting, raving, calling names, and throwing things around in her room.  Although she didn't get violent against people, it's behavior like this that usually indicates that a violent explosion is just around the corner.

The day before, she had started with some pretty amped-up, out-of-control rudeness, defiance, and disrespect.  This is also a harbinger of an impending explosion.

The triggers to both of these episodes?  It was the same old thing: we asked Danielle to help out around the house.  The first episode happened when we asked her to help out with some household chores.  The second episode started when we asked her to clean her room because something in there was starting to stink.

After crying, screaming, and carrying on to the nth degree, she finally discovered the source of the smell -- she had some wet, soggy papers stashed somewhere, and they were starting to mold.

In another recent development, we got Danielle's state mandated testing results back.  Not surprisingly, she still has not achieved proficiency in English/Language Arts or Math.  It's discouraging, because her failing scores on the state mandated tests mean she will likely not pass our state's high school exit examination.

And then, just to add more unfortunate news to the pile, Danielle had another four cavities when she went for her six-month dental checkup.  The dentist said she's not doing an adequate job of brushing and flossing.

She'll turn 18 in just a bit over a year.  When that birthday arrives, she'll most likely lose her state-sponsored health insurance.  Even if the current political climate changes that, she will definitely lose her dental coverage.  Our state system does not offer any dental coverage for those over 18, no matter how serious their problem.

I explained to Danielle that if she doesn't learn to brush soon, she's potentially facing a very painful toothache and a lot of costly dental bills.  With as many cavities as she's had, I'm worried she might not have any teeth left by the time she turns 35.

It's just a sad, sad situation.

As for my dearth of blogging lately, I've been gone for a number of reasons.  First off, there hasn't been much to write about on the Danielle front (positive or negative) so there hasn't been much to say.  I've been working on a number of other writing projects, which have somewhat diluted my enthusiasm for blogging.  Also, work's been crazy busy of late, so what little time I do have available, it's not really being spent here.

Still, I figured an update was warranted, especially because it sure looks like an explosion is nigh.