Tomorrow I will present to a room full of strangers about my “creative parenting.” I was nominated to present at a PechaKucha event by someone who I had respected from afar, but never realized knew who I was. I’m always excited to talk to anyone about our family’s foster/adoptive journey, and I was especially honored to speak at this event.
Tonight, though, I have a nagging feeling in my gut that I really shouldn’t do it. I feel like a fraud and a huckster talking about parenting. I created images of my smiling kids, and planned on talking about our trials and tribulations in a way that might lead someone in the crowd to consider doing the same. But tonight I have to admit that I really don’t have any hope left for my oldest daughter. After 5+ years, I’ve shifted into thinking how I can protect the rest of my family from her, rather than thinking about how to help her.
I behave like a warden in my own home. I discovered a cell phone this morning during a random pocket check (this happens 2-3 times per week). I bought a charger on the way to work, charged it up, and realized that she had asked her friends to pitch in money so she could buy it from a kid who rides her bus. They pitched in but didn’t have enough money, so she gave the kid her birthday check from my mother as collateral. Then, he said he lost the check, so she offered to steal her 8-year-old brother’s check to give him. I’ve created a Frankenstein who thinks she’s street smart, but is actually terrifically gullible. A girl who fancies herself ghetto, but who has actually become quite comfortable living a middle class lifestyle.
I had to call my sweet mother today and tell her that the birthday check – the one that came in the sparkly card that she took ten minutes to pick out, telling my daughter how much she was adored and loved – had to be cancelled, along with her entire checking account, because of what my daughter had done. In the 5 years I’ve been a mother, I’ve never been so embarrassed and ashamed.
Today I fully realized that this may be as good as it gets for my daughter, and that the next few years may be about protecting my other kids and husband from her. The phone was the tip of the iceberg. In the last few weeks, she’s stolen my phone, she’s stolen the money she used to buy her phone. Tonight she stole her brother’s house key (because she’s not allowed to have one). She’s created a second facebook profile that she used to bully another girl at school and to engage in remarkably pornographic and abusive discussions. She lies to her therapist. She lies to me. She chooses not to heal.
Two weeks ago, she tried living on the streets and lasted 2 hours. I thought that might be the wake up call she needed, but by the next week, she was up to her same tricks.
My daughter is living in our garage, because I don’t trust her to live in the house. That’s my creative parenting for today. My daughter is living in my garage.