Happy 2012

I was in the car with Yelena the other day and she had on a brand new wrist band/ace bandage type of thing. She has always been drawn to ace bandages and has used them whenever she has had the chance, whether or not she has been hurt in any way.

In the public school last year, her teacher had forbidden her to wear an ace bandage in class. If she hurt herself, she would get one from the nurse and then continue to wear it every day for weeks. She complained constantly that her wrist or arm hurt (not usually her leg or ankle and I think that’s because you couldn’t see it.) Her teacher felt it was distracting to her and the other students because she wrapped and rewrapped it constantly. I felt that if there was some psychological need that it was satisfying then she should be permitted to wear it especially since she was not permitted to use any other “fidgets” in class. That was last year and now she is at a new school. Finally, after many years of hard work, Yelena has an out-of-district placement and it has made a world of difference (for the better.) But that is another story…

I asked Yelena where she had gotten the ace bandage. It looked new and clean and was obviously some kind of wrist splint. She told me that she had found it under her bed. Since I do clean under her bed occasionally, I knew she could not have just “found” it there. I told her that and said that she could write down where she got it that if she preferred to. Sometimes when she is embarrassed about something, it helps her to write it down rather than say it. She took a pad of paper and wrote down that she had found it in my drawer when I had been watching TV last night and she was supposed to be asleep. I told her that it wasn’t possible because I did not own anything like the one she had and had never seen it before. I said she could have another chance to tell the truth and write it down if she needed to. She started to write and then stopped and asked me: “When was the last time I had a sleepover at Jane Doe’s house?” I said that it hadn’t been since last year and I had cleaned her room entirely over the summer and it was not there. She was silent.

It occurred to me that if she had something that she could use as an ace bandage, she wouldn’t hide it for months, she would probably wear it immediately as soon as she got it. We had been at a friend’s house the day before so I asked her if it had come from their house. I said that I could easily check with my friend and picked up my phone to call her but she wasn’t home so I left a message. Meanwhile Yelena took the bandage off and place it on the seat next to her. I asked her where in their house she had found it and she said “In the bathroom.” It seemed like the first reasonable explanation out of the four she had given me. I told her that she was going to have to give it back to my friend and apologize. She said she knew that and didn’t seem to be upset about that in the least. I also added that there might be another consequence as well but I needed to talk it over with her father as consequences don’t seem to phase her or change her behavior at all.

For Christmas, Yelena received DVD’s of two full seasons of a TV show that she loves (Avatar, the Last Air Bender). She has been unable to stop watching them, almost like a compulsion. She got many other presents. She took the wrappings off and looked at them but never opened the boxes. After a week, I took them all and put them in a closet wondering if she would notice. She hasn’t noticed yet. Out of sight, out of mind. I might just return them and get my money back.

Over the Christmas vacation, Yelena was so obsessed with the DVD’s of  “Avatar” that my husband woke up several nights to find her at 3 AM or 4:30 AM or whatever downstairs glued in front of the TV set (strangely, I slept through it all). We had a new TV set that we just got. On our old set, we had cut off the plug and replaced it with a male plug and then we made an intermediate cord with a male and female end so that Yelena is not able to watch TV unless she has this “intermediate” cord. After a few days with the new TV set, I went to Home Depot and cut the cord and rigged it up like our old TV.

And yes, we also have locks on many of the doors in our home because Yelena has no boundaries. She will take anything that strikes her fancy – from an article of clothing to a diamond ring. She will also eat anything that is not nailed down. She especially likes sugar and if there is nothing sweet to eat, she will eat plain sugar, cake mix, pudding mix or anything else that has sugar in it. The pantry in the kitchen is locked. My studio is locked. The doors to the rooms of our other children are locked. We have used a hasp on the door with a combination lock. Over the past few weeks, we have found that Yelena has gotten through the locks (actually, I am a little bit proud that she is that clever but otherwise furious). We initially thought she was figuring out the combiation but then realized that she has taken the pin out of the hasp and can open and then relock the door without ever opening the combination lock.

So I will amend the first sentence of the second to last paragraph: Yelena was so obsessed with the DVD’s of  “Avatar” that my husband woke up several nights to find her at 3 AM or 4:30 AM or whatever downstairs glued in front of the TV set eating oreos and drinking lemonade. She would be eating sugar and watching TV 24/7 if we let her...