keep your hands to yourself

I’ve had lots of people ask me why I haven’t blogged more about Sofija lately and I’ve spent quite a bit of time in prayer and deep thought about what’s okay to put out there for the whole world to read.

Just before Christmas we interviewed behavioral therapists and decided on a man/woman team.  The woman develops the therapy plan and does oversight and the man is with us for forty hours every month.  He’s amazing and we are extremely hopeful and grateful for all that he is doing with her.  Sofija’s feelings toward the therapy situation aren’t quite in alignment with the rest of the family.

We were warned that her attention-seeking behaviors would escalate and that she would regress for a while before we would see the bad behaviors begin to disappear.  So…it came as no surprise when she began to pee all over us and the furniture, and make every attempt to torture the dogs.  The one thing I wasn’t quite prepared for was seeing her self-injury return.  It’s been months since we’ve seen her actually hurt herself and she’s gone back to biting her arms in the middle of her tantrums.  It may sound heartless, but watching her do it is not so bad.  Usually by the time she’s doing her best Cullen impression, she’s already broken several things in the house, screamed every defiant term she can muster at us for fifteen or twenty minutes, and urinated on a couch or a rug.  The biting is usually a pretty good sign that she’s at the end of her meltdown.  Bath-time, bed-time, and any time she’s changing clothes are when it punches me in the gut.  It’s bad enough that her arms are completely covered with scars from her teeth.  But the scars look so much worse when they are covered with brand-new mouth-sized bruises.

Marky-Mark is her therapist.  (His name has been changed to protect his innocence.)  When he steps in our house he gets his own personal “funky bunch”.  Hah!

Marky-Mark is amazing with Sofija.  He never loses his cool and he never waivers on his expectations.  And….he’s teaching us how to do the same.

Today I feel free to share because today I saw a little glimmer of light at the end of her bad-behavior tunnel.  Yesterday was a different story.  Yesterday I got to hear that her attention-seeking has increased at school and I even had the joy of receiving a phone call from Seth’s school saying that his “pretend” has increased and gotten louder in the last few weeks.  We’ve witnessed it at home too.  He is very upset by Sofija screaming and throwing tantrums and right now we’re dealing with that for two to three hours/night.  He tries to block it out by making louder noises himself.  Chase just complains about it all and Kira just tries to stay away from home as much as possible.  Thank God for ipods and noise-canceling headphones!

Today’s glimpse of light came in the most unexpected environment.  Marky-Mark is working with her in several different areas right now, all of which require her to “keep her hands to herself”.  Our biggest priority right now is to stop her aggression towards others.  On Saturdays the indoor pool on Ft. Belvoir has free swim for special needs children and their parents.  We haven’t been for a while because the last visit left me wondering how many parents out there think that brat is a disability.  I listened to a little worship music, did some writing and took my girl to the pool.  As we walked in I thought it was our lucky day.  There were only three other children in the pool and they appeared to be siblings who were there with their divorced Daddy.  I could sit on the bleachers, get a little reading in, and Sofija had a huge pool to explore with little competition for space in the water.  My reading lasted about five minutes before the oldest girl in the sibling group started jumping all over Sofija.  I put my things away and prepared to apologize for the brutal attack that she was about to dish out.  As Sofija whipped her body around and got in her attack stance I reminded her, “Sofija, I need you to keep your hands to yourself.”  I repeated that line two or three times.  Guess what?  She backed up and then swam away.  My heart slowed to a somewhat normal pace, but it was only a few minutes before this bratty girl was jumping on her again.  This time she jumped on top of a foam noodle that Sofija was playing with and then ripped it out of her hands.  Divorced Daddy swam in circles and said nothing.  Parent of the year award goes to…..DD!  I stood up and reminded her again to keep her hands to herself and I offered to get her another noodle.  She said, “No float, Mama.” and then swam away from the bratty girl.

The obnoxious behavior continued throughout Sofija’s swim.  Once when Sofija was slapping the water with her hands and stimming pretty hard, the girl came up to her and asked (with a scowl), “What’s wrong with you?”  This girl was probably nine or ten years old and I have to confess, I wanted to get in her face and put her in her place.  I kept looking back and forth between my beautiful little girl and this big kid who got uglier by the second.  God, please forgive me.  But she was ugly.  And everything in me wanted to say that to her when she continued to antagonize my child.

I just wrote a little piece today on things we’re told as children that damage us as adults.  I kept hearing what I had written and seeing the written words of Romans 12:2.  The English Standard Version says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I didn’t want this little girl to grow up and need a renewing of her mind because some mean lady at a pool told her she was ugly at age ten.  It wasn’t easy, but I bit my tongue.  I walked out of that place with a clear conscience, a happy daughter, and big ol’ smile on my face as I grasped just how huge it is that my happy daughter was able to “keep her hands to herself.”

I thought about inserting an old Calvin Klein ad or the video of Georgia Satellites singing “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” in this post, but settled for this……Enjoy!

3 thoughts on “keep your hands to yourself

  1. waitingchildren

    oh I so feel for you!! been there a million times, you handled yourself well-I can’t count how many times I have wanted to scream at an adult or child “she is AUTISTIC, what is YOUR problem?” I remember when the tantrums stopped, it was nice to know we would not be in hell forever! It really does stress the family but pays off so well in the long run, like a marathon, over mountains really.

  2. Susan

    I so admire your love, patience and tenacity in helping your daughter. It’s good to read that she’s learning some self-control when so unjustly bullied by an undisciplined child (what WAS that father thinking?? Was he thinking??)Your own self-control under those very trying circumstances is something I doubt very much that I’d be able to achieve.

    Reading your more recent entry, I’m sorry that things are so stressful just now, but am thankful that Sofija is getting effective therapy by someone who’s knowledgeable, experienced, compassionate and caring. I hope and pray that this phase won’t last long and that you’ll see additional positive results soon.

    Hang in there…
    Susan in Ky

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