Vacation Week: Always an Invitation for a Problem

I just checked and no, Mercury is not in retrograde right now so I am going to have to find something else to blame my problems on right now.

I encouraged Yelena to call her friends and arrange some times to "hang out" over the vacation week so that she wouldn't either be sitting around the house watching TV all day or at the library on a computer all day. She did actually make a few attempts - more like a few texts but nothing much came of it.

Yelena has a friend, M, whose mother is a good friend of mine and who lives right near where I work. Sometimes it works out that I take Yelena to work with me in the morning and she hangs out with me for awhile (or rather she hangs out in my office on my computer) and then M and her mother pick her up for the day. After work, I pick up Yelena and we all go out to dinner. It can be a really nice day.

Wednesday I brought Yelena to work with me in the morning. I took her around and introduced her to everyone. She had breakfast with some of the residents (I work in an assisted living) and spent some time with me talking to the residents. At one point, the residents were having their mid-morning juice and Yelena said she would like a glass of juice. I got her a glass and led her to the juice machine (5 kinds of juice!) and then I had to run back to my office for a minute. When I came back, we both went to my office and I set her up on the computer. While we were there, one of the other staff members knocked on my door and asked us if we had seen a can of juice sitting on the counter when we were in the kitchen getting juice. She said that it belonged to one of the residents and it was now missing.  That kind of conversation always sets off an alarm in my head. I said that I hadn't seen can of juice and Yelena said she didn't see it either. But I knew...

Later, when her friend came to pick her up, I brought her up to the lobby in the elevator and as she was getting off the elevator, I could see something hard in her pocket and I put my hand on it and felt the can. I asked her to please give it to me. She took it out of her pocket and gave it to me and our eyes locked for a few moments. She left with her friend. I took it to the woman who had asked us about it and asked her if she had seen Yelena actually take it and she said she had (I thought so). I said I was very very sorry and returned the can of juice. In one sense, yes, it was just a can of juice.

I called my husband to tell him what had happened and we decided that she wouldn't be allowed to have any screen time for the next few days and that we should let her go to her friends house the next day.

After work, I went to my friends house and Yelena and her friend were both in good spirits. My friend, unfortunately, did not feel well so I offered to take both of the girls out for dinner. We went to get hamburgers (at an organic hamburger place) and during dinner, her friend said she wanted a milkshake for dessert. I said we weren't going to get milkshakes (because 1) I didn't feel like buying them both $7. milkshakes after I just spent $35.00 for organic hamburgers and fries and 2) none of us needed the extra sugar, fat and calories.)

She asked me several more times about the milkshakes but I stuck to my guns. I finally relented and said that I wouldn't get milkshakes but we could all walk down the street to a really good ice cream place and get "small" cones. She said OK and walked ahead of Yelena and I on the way to the ice cream store. When we got there, she immediately pointed to a poster of a large sundae and said that she wanted it. I said the deal was a small ice cream. She said that she didn't like small ice creams she wanted a big one. An argument ensued and she finally ordered a cone and excused herself to go to the bathroom and chill out (an excellent idea). And this wasn't even my child! Yelena was good spirited throughout.

When we got home, Yelena immediately asked her father if she could watch TV. He said that he would have to discuss it with me. She turned and asked me if she could watch and I said "No". Which is not what I am supposed to say according to all of the training we received at the Attachment Institute but I couldn't help myself. I am supposed to say "Yes, as soon as I feel close to you" but I didn't. She asked why and I said that she knew why. I started to go upstairs and Yelena turned around and said something to me (which I can't remember exactly at the moment) intending to start a fight. I went upstairs and went into the bathroom to put on my nightgown and she stood outside the bathroom and took down a picture from the wall that she had done when she was about 4 that I loved. She asked me why I liked such an ugly painting and I said i thought it was beautiful. She took it out of the frame and tore it up into little pieces. I didn't react. It went on for about 45 minutes: Why don't you send me back to Russia? Why do you hate me so much? Why did you adopt me and take me away from my birth mother? Why didn't you...?? I hate to sound callous, but I have been through this same tantrum several hundred times. After awhile, she calmed down, went to her room for awhile and came back in tears: "Mommy, I am so sorry. Mommy, what's wrong with me??"

The next morning, I didn't see her before I went to work but my husband said she was having a good day. She was supposed to meet a friend and she went to her house and then they went to the mall together (typical teenager). Everything seemed OK (more or less). I work late on Thursdays and then usually go out with a friend for dinner because I wouldn't get home before she went to bed anyway.

Friday morning (my day off), my husband came to wake me up and told me that the father of Yelena's friend (who she had seen the day before) wanted to tell us that Yelena had stolen her friend's iPod (with internet access). She stayed in her room all day (unusual for her unless she has something electronic to entertain herself with). In the afternoon, I went into her room and she was lying in bed with headphones on her head which were connected to something under the blankets. She said she was just taking a nap (she never takes a nap). I sat down on her bed and I asked her to give me the iPod. She stared at me and I said that I knew she had her friend's iPod and that she needed to give it back. I think she was shocked that I knew. Somehow, she still doesn't get it that I have eyes in the back of my head and usually know what is going on. She thinks that what she does is invisible somehow, She started kicking me and telling me to get out. I asked again calmly for the iPod. She said she would give it back before dinner. I said OK as I was tired of being kicked. This is parental abuse (something no one ever talks about) not child abuse here - I have the scars to prove it. I asked if she was then going to stay in her room until dinner. She said "What?? I can't even go to the bathroom???"  I stayed in my room to be near her in case something happened. My husband texted me from down stairs: "Are you OK?" I texted him back: "I am physically OK. Very sad and disappointed and frustrated and angry and feeling sorry for myself and scared."

My husband called the crisis team. We are always divided on this issue. He is always quick to call and I always hate to call them in. They came at 6 pm and we explained the situation to them. They went upstairs to speak with Yelena and came back down after about 45 minutes and said they finally got to talk with her and she agreed to give it back and go over a safety plan with them. They went back upstairs to do the safety plan with Yelena and came back and said that she had agreed that we could all go over the safety plan together. We all went upstairs. Her door was closed and she wouldn't say a word. The woman from the crisis team read the safety plan twice. We had even altered it to say that she could have my kindle to watch Netflix after she gave the iPod back and apologized to her friend. No response. I knocked and went into her room. She was wild eyed furious. She told me to leave and started yelling at me so I went back downstairs. The crisis team came down in a few minutes and said that they felt like she was seriously escalating and that they would give her some time and they would go out side and then come back and check on her again. We talked about looking for CBATs, etc. When they went back upstairs after about a 1/2 hour, she was calm. She said she didn't want to talk to us. They decided to leave and said we should call if anything happened. They suggested I leave a note under her door that there was dinner downstairs for her and we would respect her not wanting to talk. My husband went to the Y to work out. I made dinner.

About an hour later, Yelena came downstairs as if nothing had happened. Cheerfully got herself some food and sat down next to me. She started eating and then handed me the iPod. I said "Thank you" and she kept chattering away. She said she wanted to go to sleep and went upstairs. I gave her her meds and she went to sleep. It's 11 am Saturday now and she is still in bed. All this emotion is exhausting.

The only other thing that I want to mention is that she has been talking a lot about her birth mother. She said that she sees her birth mother and it is terrifying to her. I told her to tell her to go away if she was frightening her. She said she told her that but that she still keeps coming to see her. It's hard to tell if she is really hallucinating this or if this is drama queen stuff. She has been quite obsessed with her birth mother recently (never her birth father) and I understand that this is a natural part of adolescence - trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs in the universe. I have always told her that her birth mother loved her very much and I don't know why she could not keep her but she loved her so much that she tried very hard to put her someplace where a family like us would find her and love her. This is the first time that she has expressed anger about having been "given away" and I think it's good for her to acknowledge and express this anger. It's just so hard for her. For all of us.