We’ve talked about being thankful for the bad times. This may not be easy but it is important because if we didn’t have bad times, we would be able to know the good times when they come. And of course, we must be thankful for the good times!
But I want to talk about being thankful for the good times in a different way. When we are in the midst of life with our RAD kiddos, the good times may be a day when the school doesn’t call. Or a day when there aren’t any fights (at least not big ones). If it was a day when everything goes pretty much the way it should, that’s a good day, right? I know we condition ourselves to think that way because our benchmark has gotten so small when the behaviors of these kiddos can be so extreme.
But I encourage you to be thankful for the good times by remembering the actual good times. Even in the worst of the periods with August, there were moments when we had truly joyous times. Spring break one year, I took the boys to Kentucky. We stayed in some small WPA built cabins outside the entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park. We spent the week explore the various caves, went zip-lining, went to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. It was a perfect week.
Another time was surprisingly when I went to visit August when he was in residential treatment. I spent the weekend there and I was allowed to take him out every day. We played mini-golf, we spent time with August’s therapy dog and we took a helicopter ride! The look on August’s face when we were in the helicopter is one I will always remember. He looked for a brief time like the sweet, happy little boy he had been before the cloud of reactive attachment disorder descended over him. It was such a wonderful time for us.
I’m not saying the good times have to be just fabulous family vacations. I look at photos sometimes and remember good times that happened right at home. The year I homeschooled August we worked on muscles, ligaments and tendons. One of the ways the material suggested we study this was with a chicken leg. So we got one out in the kitchen and checked it out. We were both so grossed out we gave up! And we didn’t have chicken for dinner that night!
Definitely be thankful for the good times when there aren’t any calls from school. Or when there aren’t any big fights. Because all of those are good times. But sit down with your RAD kiddo and remember those good times. Share them together. Use them to foster a shared experience of good interactions. Remind yourself and your RAD kiddo that not everything that happens between the two of you is negative.
I have said on many occasions that I will always love August. There have been times when I haven’t liked him. And that’s a tough thing to say. But I love to remember these times. I love to remember when we were as close as we could be as mother and child.
There’s times when you have to laugh to keep from crying. You know those times. You’ve been there. Or when something so incredibly bizarre happens with your RAD kiddo that you just have to bust out laughing. Because yet again it’s something you never thought would happen. But humor is the best medicine sometimes to help us deal with those times when things aren’t so funny.
Particularly as we move into the holiday season where we might be adding even MORE dysfunction to our lives, we need to keep our funny bones active! You need to be able to “go with the flow” and able to throw off some of the craziness that happens during the course of your RAD kiddo day. Not everyone has the ability to retreat to their gorgeous spa bathroom while the nanny takes over the bedtime routine with the kids. So what other options are there? There’s humor.
Finding something funny in every day is a great exercise for your brain. When you smile you look better. Laughter works out your core muscles. There are so many reasons why daily humor is a good idea! And an even better idea is when you can laugh with your RAD kiddos. Trading jokes, watching a funny movie, anything to lighten the mood of a particularly stressful day is a great way to help everyone release the stress.
So as we get into the holiday season, remember to laugh. Remember to smile at your children. Find a humorous book to read. Go get a joke book from the library and keep it around to share jokes after dinner. Keeping this spirit of joy and humor which I know can be hard, will go a long way toward helping the entire family survive and thrive this holiday season.
Today is Veteran’s Day which may on the surface have nothing to do with reactive attachment disorder. But there are so many lessons that the service of our veterans can teach our RAD kiddos. And the military can possibly be a good option for some RAD kiddos who will work well with the structure that the military provides.
Being a Veteran means subscribing to almost everything that’s the opposite of how a RAD kiddo thinks. Military service means being willing to sacrifice for a cause much bigger than yourself. It means living for the goal of the unit. And It means understanding that you are not the one in control. Your training and your education must be your highest priority. And remaining calm even in the most stressful situations is critical.
Now yes, Veterans sound super-human and many are. And that’s why we love them and honor them. Because our country wouldn’t be the same were it not for the amazing men and women who choose to serve. But I’m sure the RAD families reading out there might be laughing thinking that sounds like anyone BUT my RAD kiddo!
Would it be possible to impart some of these Veteran qualities onto our RAD kiddos? Could we use this day to explain how much the actions of our veterans are admired and revered? Yes, I think we can. If you have family members, still living or passed, use today or sometime this week to talk about their service and memories you have or stories you remember. If your child remembers them as well, talk about memories you share.
And if you can, have your family member talk about their service, what it was like and what it meant to them. Hopefully it’s someone that your child likes and looks up to. If so, then they can talk about why it’s important to have qualities of respect, self-control, dedication, a team player. Because a lot of times other people can reach your child when you’ve been saying the same things for years!
And many people have the day off today. So hopefully you can find some good time for self-care today. No kids to shuttle to school and activities. No homework to check. Don’t even have to get the mail! Find a few minutes of quiet time to read or reflect. Take a moment to say, “Thank you” to all those who have allowed us to have the life we have in the U.S.
Happy Veteran’s Day and thank you to all the readers who have served.
We are into November which is the month here in the U.S. where we start to consider all that for which we are thankful. Many of my friends on Facebook do a daily post giving thanks for something in their life. It’s always something good. But for those of us with RAD kiddos sometimes thinking of 30 days of good things can be hard. So I thought it might be good to figure out how to be thankful for the bad times.
Thankful for the Bad Times? Yes it sounds crazy. But the bad times can be a chance to learn, a chance to grow and sometimes a chance to bond. They don’t always have to send you down that dark hole you think you’ll never come out of. Yes, sometimes they can be beyond awful. But families that work together can make the bad times a chance to connect and talk through the problems they have.
Here is my list of bad times for which I am thankful:
When August bombed so badly in sixth grade that we had to pull him out so that I got to homeschool him. That was terribly hard to do but I got more time with him. I was also not pulled between two schools so I was able to be more available for his brother as well.
When August went to residential treatment. While I missed him horribly and felt like a complete failure as a parent, it was a break our family needed. I was able to spend some quality time with his brother. August was able to get some intensive therapy. And we got Mia the dog which has been a wonderful addition to our family!
Almost all the times August got arrested. I have mentioned before that I have spent so many nights since he became an older teenager wondering where he was. And waiting for the sheriff to come up the driveway with devastating news. When he’s been in jail I’ve known he was safe, warm and getting food. It seems weird for a mother to wish her son in jail, but when the alternative is some of the places August has chosen, it’s the better of the two.
The times when I’ve stood my ground with August, hung up the phone or not let him in the house. See item two about feeling like a complete failure as a parent. But preserving myself and our family sometimes has meant setting boundaries that have been hard. After the fact August has understood why (I think). Though the rage and the hurt in his voice still ring in my ears. But the alternative was not being around now that he needs me more.
So maybe this year you can find a way to be thankful for the bad times too. I intentionally don’t put any religion into this blog, but this is a story that I came upon many years ago that fits so well with this theme that I am including it here.