Thursday, May 29, 2014


We've noticed with Garbonzo a strong correlation between the consumption of sugar and the increase of impulsive behaviors. For this reason, we closely monitor his sugar intake. After he's had sugar, he needs closer supervision and simpler tasks. We try to time the sugar intake for times where those accommodations can be made.

And when I mean impulsivity, I don't mean blurting out, or flickering lights, I mean pilfering and stealing. Those impulses are an issue for him even without sugar, but on sugar it's much much worse. 

We have relations that get this.  They've changed their sugaring and even they can see how that improves his behavior.

We also have relations that don't quite get this. We had hoped that they might honor the sugar restrictions just because we asked them to, but that's not really happening.   I think they honestly don't get it and are just trying to be nice to the poor deprived child, When Garbanzo spends time with them, they give him snack baggies full of chocolate chips and sodas and so forth.

This is a two-pronged problem: 
1.) Authority is Disposable if You Don't Agree with It.
The greater problem is that he sees them disregard his parents' wishes because they disagree and he takes it as license to do the same. This is HUGE as it may take weeks or months to re-establish the notion that our authority is not disposable.

It's the same thing we see after he comes home from camp. At camp, things are done differently.  Mom and Dad's ways are irrelevant at camp.  That's fine.  It's camp.  But the week after camp it is so hard for Garbanzo to re-enter the family that we ALWAYS take the week after camp to go family camping.  We are together, Dad is with us, every little twinge of blowing off authority is squashed immediately.  And there are so many fun things to do, so many pleasures around, that it isn't worth his while to maintain insolence.  But we can't go on a family camping trip every time he spends time with his Sugary Relations.  And thus far, we haven't found a manageable reset mechanism.

2.) Lack of Disclosure.
The other problem is that they tend to sugar him up at the end of the visit and then not tell me, so it has taken me awhile to figure out that after spending time with them, he needs a different sort of day.  If this was the only thing, I could live with it.  But the authority issue is trashing our home life.

Friday, May 23, 2014

a tsunami of stealing and lying and sneaking

Today he opened up the boxes containing the personal items of his late Uncle.  Seeing stuff he liked, he took it.  Confronted, he lied.

He also used a key he had previously stolen and stashed to access and pilfer from an off-limits area.

Yesterday he entered our bedroom and took out books that were off-limits.  Apparently he's been tucking in there for awhile stealing his sister's Easter chocolate which was there for safe-keeping.

Over the weekend we visited relatives and he snuck home unauthorized books* from their home. 

And the pocket knives.  Our house is chockful of other people's pocket knives.

Shoplifting is old news.  He is utterly unfazed by having to return the item and confess.  And to my knowledge he has never resisted the temptation.  That is, there has been no time that I let him go into a store without me and he didn't shoplift.

And the inappropriate computer use, both using it to look up sexy stuff and cheating on his schoolwork.  He'll convince his relations that he needs the computer for his schoolwork and then use it to google the wrong things.  And If there is the remotest possible way to cheat on his schoolwork he will find it and do it. I've spent the last two days installing spyware on the computers.

The core problem is that he flat refuses to live under our authority.  We've talked and talked and talked about it but it comes down to "If you want to live in our home, you need to live under our authority."  Over and over again he has shown us that if he doesn't agree with our expectation, he will just ignore it, and when confronted he will lie, blame us, blame sister, whatever.

He won't comply, so we gave him a sleeping bag and a tarp and he is living in the barn.  I set out food for him and bring him in for a shower and clean clothes and sent him back out.  Horrible, I know.  Heart-breaking.   What else are we to do?  

Consequences matter NOTHING to him.  They are just more challenges from him to try to get around.  Expectations are merely an opportunity for tricksy stuff (can he side-step the expectation and get away with it?)

Every moment of every day is consumed with monitoring him. Taking a shower is a carefully timed event.  He is bright, REALLY bright, and strategic.  Any moment that I am distracted is his opportunity to do whatever he is plotting.  A phone call.  A trip to the loo.  A shower.  But, if he is living in the barn, at least the inside of the home can be a bit normal.

Ha! I'm calling locking my beloved son out of the house normal.  But his obsession with deception is unmanageable. If he were a boyfriend, we'd call this a codependent relationship (because my life revolves around his problems) and we'd get out of the relationship.

We are miserable and heart-broken and angry and scared.  How do we get through the next few years? and what will become of him?

*There is nothing wrong with the books he is sneaking (The Percy Jackson books) for a non-damaged kid, but they are not okay for him.  The basic story line revolves around a clever and self-sufficient young man whose mother loves him, but is not too bright, easily duped, and completely superfluous to his life.  The fate of the world hangs on his shoulders, and the adults in the story are usually wrong.  He has to trick and deceive them in order to get things to unfold in accordance to his superior insight and intelligence.   No.  Garbanzo does not need to read these.

Friday, January 18, 2013

stealing and lying

We seem to be making no progress at all.  He steals from stores.  From family members.  From us.  And he lies so easily.

I am so discouraged.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

dripping and glowering

It doesn't matter how early I start her, Tater comes late to breakfast, as in, arrives when breakfast is being cleared away.  I think it has something to do with with early food deprivation, so I haven't the heart to consistently do the logical thing ("too bad so sad, you missed breakfast").  We have done that, but it had no impact and I couldn't shake the feeling that that was her point, to recreate the early experiences of hunger and neglect.  If she can recreate that experience, she has a focus for the anger that she carries around.

So today I awoke her at 9 and told her breakfast was at 9:30.  She needs to shower, get dressed, and straighten up her room in that half hour.  At 9:30 I went and got her out of the shower (ignoring the pleas for rinsing the conditioner) and handed her her robe and took her to the table.

After breakfast we will do our normal routines up until it is time to leave for music class.  She will have to scamper through those to get time to go get dried off and dressed.

So now she is angry about that.  What a horrible way for all of us to start our day.  What would you do?

She's almost 11 now, btw.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


He's darling and helpful and bright and literary and hard-working and very often a joy.
He also smashes his sister behind the door so hard that the hinges rip out of the wall, threatens her with glass bottles, and frightens me.

Did I mention the time he started a fire in the upstairs bathroom?
Or the time he jumped into the driver's seat of my parent's van and rolled it into the garage wall?
Or casually, when passing by, flicked the "Go" button on Grandpa's power chair, sending Grandpa careening off the dock and (thank God) onto the dock below it where he screeched to a stop on my leg, pinching me between the chair and a sailboat, that (thank God again) was moored tightly, else I and Gpa and chair would have gone over, me at the bottom?
Or the whole series of finding stinky little jars of pee stashed around the house?
Or the run of pants-wetting?
Or the sleep-walking out of the house?
Or the stealing?
Or the time he asked to use the bathroom at the lab and shortly afterwards the key to The. Very. Important. Case. was discovered missing? And he pretended that the key that looked exactly like the missing key and that was found in his pocket was one from home?
Or the time he turned off all the lights and displays in the museum?

And there are so many more . . .

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Tater's constant oppositional and antagonistic attitude is wearing me out. My love bank is empty, my patience is worn thin. I don't even want to see her, much less mother her.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why Does She Do This?

Tater & Garbanzo: fuss fuss
Tater & Garbanzo: bicker bicker
Tater & Garbanzo: fuss fuss
Tater & Garbanzo: bicker bicker
Tater & Garbanzo: fuss fuss
Tater & Garbanzo: bicker bicker
Me: If you two are going to fuss about the placements, you may be excused.
Tater: fuss fuss bicker bicker
Me: Okay, you are excused.
Tater: RAGE!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


This is a post from earlier this summer . . .  I'm not sure why it didn't post at the time.  Garbanzo had been assigned the role of assistant director for a play.


So, I pull into the theater and the director is waiting for me.  Never a good sign.  Apparently Garbanzo blocked a kid into the toilet stall, making him crawl out under the door and threatened him if he told.
I go get Garbanzo and put him in the van.  Why are you here Garbanzo?
Because I put my pill in my lunchbox and didn't take it. 
No, but that is helpful to know about.  Why are you here?
Because of the chocolate chips.
No, but that is helpful to know about.  Why are you here?
Because of the chocolate milk in my lunchbox.
No, but that is helpful to know about.  Why are you here?
I don't know.
That's interesting.  Let me know when you are ready to tell me and then we can talk about how many days you will miss rehearsal.

For two hours he makes up nonsense: "I told kids to not run" etc.  Finally he confesses.  I thank him for being truthful and we go home.

Later that evening, we called the director and made arrangements for his return.  He was to be demoted and removed from all positions of authority over the other kids.  He was to receive a scolding from the director that included words like "trust' "authority" "confidence" and "disappointment".  He was to be kept apart from the other kids during the remaining rehearsals and sit in the audience with us during the show (sister was in the show).

The director held up her end beautifully, none of this "oh it's okay" B.S. that people tend to hand out.  Garbanzo spent the next two rehearsals sitting in the theater auditing the script -- just marking deviations, not announcing them -- make-work, really -- but it kept him away from the other kids and his change in status was visible to all.  He sat in the audience with us and when the other two assistant directors took their bows he cried.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I got this in my email box today.  I snipped out the identifying parts; I just wanted to share this part with you.  The writer is talking about her daughter, also adopted as an older child.

  Her Achilles heel is that she is insecure.  Her insecurity presents itself as irritating behavior.  She was obviously more hurt by losing her family, although she doesn’t have a single kind word to say about her mother.  She’s a whiner, complainer and a glass-half-empty kind of girl.  If something is bothering her, she makes sure everyone knows it.  My husband and I are trying to address the behavior as much as we can, because life won’t be joyful for her if she operates out of insecurity.
Yup -- that's my Tater too.

Somehow it is so comforting to know that someone else out there really understands.  Thanks!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

not friends anymore

Being told by Tater that you are no longer her friend is rather like being un-friended by the rooster.  How is it going to look any different?

Friday, July 29, 2011

two-point shots

Tater: I don't get this problem.
Me: "I don't get" is not a question.
Tater: This part.
(points to words that say So-n-so made 23 two-point shots. . . )
Me: Well, how much is a two-point shot worth?
Tater: I don't know! They never taught me that! How am I supposed to know?
Me: Well, you let me know when you are ready to tell me and then I will help you set up the problem.
Tater: (rages off)

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Tater appears has one driving purpose in life: to provoke conflict, preferably with Mom.  Her first relationship ever was with her mom, and it was a relationship filled with anger.  Being angry at Mom is a very familiar feeling for her.  Not being angry feels odd.  If she can't get at my buttons, she'll have a go at her brother, or the puppy.  Again, we can see the pattern.  We understand why she is this way.  But how do we effect change?


Argh.  In the last two weeks Garbonzo has . . .
  • stolen a key from the lab and blithely feigned innocence during the ensuing hub-bub of "Where's the key?".  Of course, it was in his pocket.
  • stolen pocketfuls of candy from his Gma, and blithely feigned innocence even after the pat-down and discovery.
  • talked his sister into a cheating co-op wherein one steals the teacher books and copies the answers whilst the other posts look-out, and blithely feigned innocence even after her confession.
  • smuggled off-limits treats out of the house and into his lunchbox.
  • locked little kids in the bathroom stalls and threatened to to harm them if they told.
  • told us a chore/task has been done when it most obviously has not been done.  This occurs 15-20 times a day. 
  • lied. lied. lied. lied. lied. lied. lied. lied. 
We are definitely seeing a pattern.   This nasty behavior tends to appear after any of the fun summer activities.  Day camp, VBS, drama camp, etc.  Anything in which a large group of kids are under the supervision of a few adults (aka anything away from Mom) triggers orphanage behavior patterns.  We can see it.  It all makes sense.  But how do we make it go away?

Friday, July 15, 2011


Things are, relatively speaking, better around here.  Not that the stealing and raging has stopped, but that they have slowed down some.  I still have to do pocket checks on Garbonzo on a regular basis, and Tater expresses most large feelings as rage, but all-in-all we have more good days than bad, though that may be by a margin of one.