“It smells like bubble gum! Who has bubble gum?” Soccer asks from the backseat.
My oldest daughter hands me the remains of two packs of gum, “Giggles…” her voice trails off.
She doesn’t need to say any more, I know by the evidence I hold in my hand. With a sigh I turn the car around.
“Is this all of it? Or is there more?”
So we drive back to the store where I take my eight year old in to confess her theft. The man pats her on the head, tells her not to do that again, I pay for the gum and we leave.
Inside, I’m seething. This is not the first time this scenario has taken place in her young life. I have had to return to at least five, but I’ve lost count in reality, retail establishments for my daughter to confess her sins. Each time, despite my pleas to the management not to just pat her on the head and say don’t do that again, they do exactly that. I drive home with my heartbeat racing, paying extra attention to avoid losing it on the way there.
The next day she is doing a job for me in order to pay for the stolen property, and my oldest daughter notices Giggles chewing gum.
“Giggles, I thought you weren’t supposed to have gum? Where did you get that?
“Its mine.” She is starting to get angry now
Artist finds me washing up from lunch and I can tell from the look on her face, before she says, “Giggles has more gum.”
So, calmly, I walk out to talk to her, but she’s already lying on the ground, screaming, “It’s mine.”
“Where did you put it?”
“I hate you.”
“Get up and show me where you put the gum.”
She drags her feet as she walks to her bedroom. Drops to the ground halfway there and begins to crawl.
“Please stand up. Walk to your room. Move.”
She stands up, “I hate you.”
“I know, but show me where you put the gum.”
So she climbs the ladder to her bunk bed, reaches under the fitted sheet into the pocket created to protect the zipper on her futon mattress. Hands me the last remaining pack of the stolen gum.
I had frisked her on the way into the house the previous night, knowing that she could be hiding something.
A thought occurred to me, “Did you hide it in your shoe?”
“Ok where did you hide it, then?”
Defiance in her eyes. “Under my arm, like this,” she raises her arm, points to her arm pit and lowers it.
Sorrow, that’s all I can feel.
“Stay here in your room, I’ll come back in a little while.”
She falls to the floor again, screaming over and over, “I hate you.”
I go into the kitchen. A few minutes later she is lying on the floor in the dining room, yelling, “I don’t like it.”
My oldest son tries to help her to obey and she kicks him. I tell him to walk away and I escort her back to her room. Unfortunately, that is not the end of her antics.
Living with a kid with Reactive Attachment Disorder (actually we have two) is like living on a roller coaster from which I can never get off. Whenever the ride seems about to end, I am back where I started and a few seconds later speeding through the same frightening ride all over again.
To strangers and friends alike, this child seems charming, loving, even innocent. Yet inside there rages a monster that she can control only until she reaches the safety of our home. The demons that haunt her: loss, abandonment and guilt (“Did I cause my mommy’s death, how could she leave me, what’s wrong with me?”) Her coping methods: anger, hatred, stealing, and lying.
It would be so much easier, because I know that confronting her will only bring on another tantrum, to just let this behavior go. But, I cannot.
So, after I’ve slipped away to my room, kneel down to pray, I get back up and climb the stairs to find her; she's calmer now, so ready for me, “I’m sorry mommy,” she starts.
And I try to help her see that she is not the monster, and we will tame it together.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be right now. CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.