Ok - I officially had a middle schooler last year, but he wasn't that excited about doing middle-schooler-type things. Yesterday he made it more official by going to his first middle school retreat with kids from our church. A wonderful family has a house on the Clackamas River and every year, opens their house (well, the boys get the barn) to the 6-8th graders at church. I have to interrupt myself and say that I recently got a new book from the library (darn those libraries with all their informative books) about Reactive Attachment Disorder, which shall be heretofore referred to as RAD. So I've come up with some handy-dandy ways to assert myself and attempt to change this child's behavior. And I forget - what have I been doing the past 12 years? Oh yeah - medicating him for bipolar when in fact the newest and bestest doctor says it's RAD and ADD. Love that I can abbreviate everything. Sounds so official instead of saying "yeah - my kid's got bipolar disorder".
The author of this book is very clever. She says that RAD kids do nutty things. Don't try to figure them out because they're just nutty things. They will NEVER make sense to you, so don't attempt to go figuring that out. I've decided that she's probably right. She's parented many foster and adopted kids with RAD, so she must know her stuff. Unlike all these fancy-schmancy doctors who've sat in an office for the past 20 years doling out diagnoses to kids and their parents. So, I'm not sure how much I'm going to share with you - because you'll probably be offended that I have a child that swears (he picked that up from the kids at his school) and picks at scabs. Ok - looks like the cat's out of the bag, so I might as well tell you all the funny things he does and how I've handled it. I have to add that the author talks about 12 things to do (not all at once - I'm not a miracle worker) and the first thing is to take care of myself. Get 10-12 hours of sleep. I actually stopped reading the book at this point. I thought "if this woman thinks I'm going to get that much sleep, there is no hope for me to ever get past step 2". But after picking myself up off the floor, I decided that it wouldn't hurt to figure out if her wisdom had any merit.
The first things I've tackled are the swearing (usually at me - it's always directed at the mom), and picking at scabs. The author says that kids swear for shock value (REALLY?!? I'm shocked! I did NOT know that) and that when you react in a shocked way, they've got the power. She says that I'm the queen (see why I like her?) and hubby is the king and the kid is maybe a royal subject. But probably closer to some sort of slave. Just kidding. The first thing you do when the child swears is say "oh sweetums, I see you need time to do some swearing. Just go in your room. Take 5 or 10 minutes and get all that swearing out. Then you can come back down and feel much better". I was appalled when I read this. You mean I'm giving him permission to swear? But I don't WANT him to swear!! I figured I should at least try the opposite of everything I've been doing. So yesterday after school, he decides to call me a few choice names when I tell him to go pack for the retreat. I said as sweetly as possible (another thing he is hating) "oh, Holland. I can see that you are weak and need to do some swearing. Just go upstairs, get it all out and then come back down." He looks at me with this blank stare and goes "I'm done." I tried not to fall off the couch and just thanked him for being done.
The second thing was the scab picking. Again - I am constantly telling him to stop picking at them. He's getting pimples, he picks them, they bleed, they scab over and then he picks them and we have to start all over again. I've been reduced to going into his room at night, rolling him over and putting zit cream on his face. Either that or Neosporyn. So yesterday on the way to the middle school retreat, he's sitting in the front seat, trying to hide that he's picking at it again. I look over and say (sweet, happy voice again) "hey - I've decided that you have created a new hobby and I'm going to help you out. I'll get a ziploc bag, you can go in your room and pick at the scabs, put them in the baggie and then you'll have a collection!" He immediately shouts "that's gross!" and stopped picking. I haven't been able to view evidence of the ceasing of scab-picking since he's been gone. But it was sure fun shocking him with the scab-picking hobby idea.
She's got many more good ideas, but I'd better get to bed if I'm going to get anywhere close to 10-12 hours of sleep.