Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where is my daughter?

We're in the middle of a parent-child hurricane right now in the AcadeMama family. We've just found out that Hannah has been verbally abusing her best friend, bullying and manipulating her, even to the point of physically blocking and holding onto her clothes when the girl tried to walk away a couple times. Evidently, the pattern of Hannah saying hurtful things has been established for 2-3 months now, but the most disturbing events (including the physical, aggressive behavior) happened just last week during a trip to London (I went to do a bit of research, and I took Hannah and her best friend with me).

What was supposed to be a wonderful adventure for the girls was tainted a couple of times by Hannah being rude, selfish, impulsive, and downright mean to her friend. When these instances happened, I corrected Hannah, she had privileges taken away (i.e. I took her iPod), and she had to apologize sincerely to her friend. Little did I know that the worst of her behavior was happening under her breath and out of my sight (though I was never far away).

I am horrified at what she's done. I am so incredibly sorry for her friend, who has been hurt deeply by Hannah's actions. I feel guilty beyond words that this happened on my watch and that I wasn't able to prevent it. My stomach has been in knots for the past day, wondering what happened specifically (after receiving a concerning e-mail from the girl's mother yesterday morning). She came over last night after Hannah was in bed to explain what had happened, how long things had been deteriorating, etc. It's clear now that I can't trust my daughter in anything. I can't trust her to tell the truth, to make good decisions, to be kind, compassionate, thoughtful of others. Hell, I can't even trust that she'll keep her hands to herself. The shattering of this trust is enormously painful, and I'm fearful about Hannah's future, her ability to make friends (and keep friends), and the relationship she will have with us as a result of the need for us to monitor her and follow-up on everything she does.

Overwhelming me right now is the guilt and grief. We dropped the ball on reading and researching how ADHD manifests itself in children as the grow older. She started a new medication in January, and it seemed to improve her academic and intellectual performance, so we thought everything was great. In retrospect, we see that her impulsivity and mood swings have gotten worse. With the aggression, it has been limited to this one friend, so I don't know that it's a result of the medication. On the other hand, the friendship has gotten closer over the past several months, so it may be that Hannah just feels more comfortable behaving this way with her friend. Usually, her worst behavior and outbursts are reserved for me. The "I hate you!" and "I wish you weren't my mother!" are thrown at me like daggers when she is having a particularly bad meltdown (usually when she's being punished by being sent to her room for a long period of time).

I don't know who this child is anymore...The daughter I knew at 2, 3, 4, and 5 years old would never, had never, behaved aggressively to ANYONE. When I gave Hannah the chance to tell me anything she could think of that would have hurt her friend, she admitted to a few of the mean things she said, but she didn't mention any of the physical stuff. When I confronted her calmly about it this morning, she confessed to it, but said she hadn't previously remembered it. She only remembered it once I'd reminded her about it. I don't know what to believe anymore. I don't know if she really does forget things? Does she block things out? Does she make up her own reality to prevent herself from being accountable? I just need to know WHY this is happening so I can fix it!

I've contacted the school counselor in order to meet with her and see if there are any therapists or other resources she recommends. I've also started researching user experiences with the medication she's on right now. I've found many of stories related to the negative side effects, though most of them are listed as possible side effects with all the ADHD meds. But, each drug works differently with each child, so there's no way to know beforehand how Hannah will react to any specific medication. I feel like I'm grieving all over again for my child. I'm feeling like I've failed her and possibly made things worse for her. She needs help now, and we will do anything and everything we can to get her that help. I just wish we were in a place where we had more resources. In four weeks, we return to the States, and that day just cannot come soon enough.


Intlxpatr said...

AcadeMama, honey, take a deep breath.

Even as an adult, we have short memories of things we have done. Have you never been confronted with something you have done and been surprised because you have forgotten it, or didn't think it had significance? It's happened to me, to my great shame.

Thanks be to God she is only a young girl. Thanks be to God her friend's mother is compassionate, and filled you in on the behavior so it can be worked on now, while she is a child, and you have time.

It's hard to see this as a GOOD thing, but it is. Your daughter needs a little work on empathy, "How would YOU feel if . . . "

She is surrounded by people who care. Lucky lucky little girl. She may have ADHD, but she has parents who care, and who are helping with her treatment. A parent who takes her to London!

We often strike back when we are embarrassed ("I hate you!") or ashamed. Trust that your daughter is smart, and she wants to be good. Help her find ways to overcome her weaknesses (we all have 'em.)

And you. You are a GOOD Mama. We miss things. We do the best we can. Can you give yourself a little break? :-)

Anonymous said...


AcadeMama said...

Intlxpatr: When it comes to my work as a teacher, I can cut myself some slack. When it comes to my work as a scholar, I can cut myself some slack. But when it comes to my work as a parent, I dropped the ball on this, 100%.

You're right about her friend's mother, though. She is truly a blessing, full of grace and patience.

You're also right about Hannah wanting to be good. This is true of all kids with ADHD. They want desperately to focus, be good, follow directions, resist their impulses, etc. We just forgot about that, and that's not right. We will make it better, though.