Friday, December 11, 2015

Don't tell my child she is cute.

It has been a couple of months since I updated our progress with L.  Things haven't changed much.  We are doing our best to help her have the desire to heal...but thus far we haven't seen much progress.  That is not to say that what we are doing isn't productive...as there is a TON of repetition needed in regards to kids with RAD.  She doesn't feel guilt or any kind of remorse for her actions.  Thus her learning curve is totally skewed.

My post today is about L's ability to feel love.

She can't.

So she replaces love with attention.

Now I know I've said this before.  However, at therapy last week, L looked at me (not in the eyes they avoid eye contact) and said, 

"I would rather have the attention of others, than your love." 

I had already known this.  But for her to verbalize it was somewhat shocking.

What does this mean you may wonder.

In short it means, when L gets attention of any kind she feels fulfilled.

L literally lives for attention.

So when someone tells L how cute she is (this is the most common) she beams with joy because inside she is thinking, "I'm good, I don't need love."

When someone tells her they LOVE her hair or her bow or her dress or her big brown eyes, she thinks, "I'm good, I don't need love."

This is why we don't go out as a family.

Without fail, a few or many wonderful people who just don't know or don't understand, will look at L and tell her one or all of these things.

L now associates her worth with how cute she is.

As a seven year old, that doesn't seem too harmful.

But, it is.

She feels that she needs nothing else in life but people paying attention to her.

So when she is 17 and all she wants is attention...where will she go?

When she doesn't have a conscience or want to feel real, true love...where will she go?

I think we ALL know the answer to that.

Many, many RAD girls drop out of school, have teen pregnancies, and end up in jail or dead.

Many become prostitutes.

When she sees that her only worth comes from how cute she is...what else is she supposed to think?

This is why we don't go out.

I am protecting her from others...but mostly herself.

If we can help her see that her worth is not in her looks but in who she is, then slowly but surely she will hopefully desire to change, to heal, to want real, wonderful love.

So when you happen to see L, please don't tell her how cute she is.

If you must talk to her...tell her to keep working hard at her therapy.  Tell her that her family loves her.  Tell her that you pray for her to heal.

She will understand your lingo.  It is ALL I say to her.  She knows I love her.  And that scares her to death.

To anyone who has told her how cute she is...me included...don't feel bad.  We are all learning here.  We need you and your support.

Lots of love,
Niki

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

L is Seven

Our L had a birthday this weekend.  She turned seven.  Part of the therapy we are doing right now is working on helping her understand the difference between LOVE and ATTENTION.

She does not know why they are different as she has never in her life actually felt love...even though we have given her all our love for seven years.

In that therapy we are asked not to make a big deal of her birthday right now.  This is heartbreaking as a mother but necessary as her caregiver.  This is so she does not gain too much attention and fall backwards in her therapy.

We had cake and she opened some cards.  She got a new pair of shoes and a new mattress.  It was short...but sweet and I could see that it was what she could handle.

In this video I wanted to show that while we are doing the HARD stuff right now, we still love, pray for and hope every day for our second baby.

This video does not depict the rage she holds inside...but that is part of her RAD.  She holds it in and charms everyone around her.  Her rage comes out with us...but we are slowly seeing that rage dim.

One of the leaders of RAD therapy said this:

"The unattached child literally does not have a stake in humanity” (Magid & McKelvey 1988). They do not think and feel like a normal person. “At the core of the unattached is a deep-seated rage, far beyond normal anger. This rage is suppressed in their psyche. Now we all have some degree of rage, but the rage of psychopaths is that born of unfulfilled needs as infants. Incomprehensible pain is forever locked in their souls, because of the abandonment they felt as infants.” (Magid & McKelvey 1988) “There is an inability to love or feel guilty. There is no conscience. Their inability to enter into any relationship makes treatment or even education impossible.” (Bowlby 1955). Some infamous people with Attachment Disorder that did not get help in time:  Saddam Hussein, Edgar Allen Poe, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Ted Bundy. One famous person with Attachment Disorder who did get help in time (in 1887!) and became one of the greatest humanitarians the US has ever produced is Helen Keller.

It is hard for us during these times where we want to celebrate our daughter knowing that in the end she only feels a need for more attention.  But I also wanted to show that even though most of my posts are depressing and full of what seems like harshness...in the end it will all work to her benefit.

This treatment is her mental chemotherapy...it may seem cruel to put your child through something that seems to make them suffer more (even though she isn't suffering more, in her mind she feels safer)...but the treatment works and in the end they will be healthier and have a better life where L will have her own stake in humanity.

When I heard this song...I thought of my L.  It is perfect for what she is dealing with right now.

We love you, L!

video



Lots of love,
Mom and Dad

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Would you still love me if I killed you?"

I know the title may be harsh and brings out some raw emotion in all of us.  No one wants to hear these words from anyone...but especially not from your six almost seven year old daughter or son.

While I know there are kids out there who will say things in anger they don't really mean...the difference with that child and my child is that my child actually means it.

She has told me many times she wants to hurt me and make me sad.  She has told me I am the worst person in the world, I'm not her mother and that she hates me so many times I've lost count.

However the one sentence that scared me into action to find out what was really happening with her was when she asked me, very calmly,

"Mommy, would you still love me if I killed you?"

She has hurt all three of my children in ways that still haunts at least my two oldest...as stated in this graphic and very disturbing video L is a child of RAD where:

"They are children who cannot love or accept love...
Children without conscience who can hurt or even kill without
REMORSE." 

While in utero our L was abused by alcohol, drugs, and probably severe emotional abuse from her birth mother and maybe others around her.  We may never know what really happened but L's brain did not form to allow her to love or be loved.  She was born broken.  She has classic RAD.

I wanted to share this video because it shows in no other way that I can ever express the true RAGE and feelings of a RAD child.  I want to warn you though of the graphic information this little six year old had to endure at the hands of her very own birth father.  Most children with RAD have come from homes of severe abuse that causes their brain to literally shut out any love from anyone.  They become angry and violent seeking only to fill their own needs and desires which usually include hurting someone less powerful than themselves or those who seem to love them the most.  They lose the ability to feel bad about anything they do to anyone or anything...but at the same time they usually hate themselves and think they are worthless and evil.  Unfortunately they live up to these expectations of themselves all too often.

I know too many children with RAD who are at the ages of 13, 14, 15 who are now in prison because of the hurt they have done to others.  So many loving families are destroyed because of their RAGE. This RAD world I have entered has consumed to me to a degree I never knew possible.  While I am trying to dig my way out to get healing for myself, I am really just trying my best to help heal my daughter with the help of her specialized school and her therapist. 

I have the full support of a loving husband who has not experienced her full RAGE as I have, but has seen enough to know that she is able and willing to hurt those who love her the most.

We have many of our friends and family who also have been as understanding and helpful as they can.  Some people in our life are not as supportive and judge us and her wrong...but we are starting to be okay with that. Obviously, unless you live with a child with RAD there is no way to truly understand what it is like. However, I am so grateful for all of the prayers and love we have been given as so many have seen us try to do our best with helping her.  I also want to add that I am not in any way trying to gain sympathy here.  I realize that I talk about this a lot...but I have been able to help so many other families just by sharing the information I have about RAD online and I feel that getting this horrific info out will only help those who are suffering without knowing why.

Here is the link to the video.  Once again it is very hard to listen to because of the abuse that was done to her and what she has done and wants to do to the loving family that adopted her.  

THERE IS A HAPPY ENDING to this video, however, and that is what Flavio and I are fighting for.  We are fighting for L and our family so that we can all be safe and that L can one day feel love for herself and from those that love her most. 

(It is about 25 minutes long.)


Lots of love,
Niki 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Unprinted Generation

I have, of late, only been blogging about our journey with our daughter Lia.  While she does take up an insane amount of my time daily in both thought and action I do try to keep up with other areas in my life...one being photography.

As I have been very busy with all that we have going on I have cut back A LOT on how many sessions I do and how often I go out to take pictures.  But photography will always be a HUGE part of who I am.

There is something, however, that I read a few weeks back that made an enormous impact on me.  In fact, I flat out panicked.

The article was about how our children and our children's children will become "the forgotten century". While we as mothers, fathers, and grandparents post millions of pictures and funny quotes daily of our children all over social media we are not truly documenting anything.  These digital memories will fade into what he calls an "information black hole" when our computer breaks down or gets too old....unless we take other steps to preserve them.



I remember when I was little one of my favorite things to do was look through old photographs of myself and my family.  With me, being a photographer, who has taken literally thousands of pictures of my children and they have yet to be able to go through their own book of pictures!  Until now.  I decided to print all of my favorite photos of my kids that I've taken over the years...this took me a few days to filter through all the photos...but I did it and the panic finally went away.  I now have the daunting task of putting the pictures in a book (about 700) so my kids will be able to flip through the pages of themselves as babies and look back at their happy childhood...but once it is done, it will be SO worth it to me.

There are a few other options out there to help us make our digital world a touchable one.  One of my favorite apps is, Chatbooks using Instagram.  They send me a book after every 60 pictures I take on Instagram.  It has been a great way to keep our everyday memories alive without me feeling the need to scrapbook...because frankly I just don't have the time or desire.  There also TONS of easy ways to put your pictures straight into book form so you can have it all done without the hassle of putting millions of pics into those little plastic covers.

I also, as a photographer, say put pictures of your family on your walls.  I love going into the homes of people I've taken photos of to see their pictures displayed on their walls!  Knowing that I've helped them create a memory that will last for this life, gives me a sense of pride but it also makes me happy knowing that they will have these treasures for their life.  So I urge people to print pictures off of the CDs that you get from your photographers...otherwise you just bought a very expensive CD.  If you can, back that CD up on your computer so you don't lose your images if you happen to lose your CD or if it gets ruined.  (photographers can't keep all their files forever)

For me pictures are a BIG deal.  Walking by and seeing my childrens' faces on our walls makes me smile every day.  Keep your memories fresh by printing those digital files!  Even if they end up in an old shoe box at least you know you'll have something to look through once your kids are grown and gone.

Here is the article I read:
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/13/google-boss-warns-forgotten-century-email-photos-vint-cerf

Lots of love,
Niki

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Well wishers for a RAD kid

My oldest daughter just started her first day of school today...4th grade!!!  It is amazing how fast the summer went and how fast she is growing into a young woman.

My heart leaps for joy in the young person she is becoming.  I pray for her safety and acceptance at
school this year.  Having a sister with RAD takes a toll on everyone in the home....



As my oldest daughter starts 4th grade my L was supposed to start 1st grade with her.

Many sweet and unknowing people have asked what grade will L be in and is she excited to start school?...when they find out that she is already in a school they ask, are you having fun?  To answer that question...No, no she isn't.

I can't tell you how much these sweet questions backfire on me.  She ends up so angry at me and takes it out sometimes in violent ways.

Just this morning when I got her up and handed her her clothes for the day she had this upset look on her face.  I told her good morning and left it as she is CONSTANTLY looking for attention (she believes attention is love).

As I was about to leave she blew up at me.

"WHY DON'T I GET TO GO TO SCHOOL WITH HANNAH!?"  "SOMEONE SAID THEY'D SEE ME AT LAKEVIEW!  BUT BECAUSE OF YOU, THEY WON'T!"

I've learned how to have patience like I never knew I could so even with all her yelling she does...I stay pretty serene.

"You know why, you are at New Hope because of your choices and to help you overcome your issues with obedience and your violent behavior."

"YOU ARE SO MEAN!" She continues to scream.

"YOU ALWAYS MAKE EVERYTHING MY FAULT!"  Still yelling.  "IT ISN'T MY FAULT!  YOU KEEP ME THERE! IT'S YOUR FAULT!"

In which I have to close the door behind me while she bangs on it and kicks the wall.

I wish so badly that I could hang a sign around her neck telling others:

"My child has RAD, in order for her to heal I need you to not to talk to her, too much attention hurts her brain and doesn't let her heal.  We are doing everything in our power to help her through this. SHE HAS TO LEARN THAT ATTENTION DOES NOT EQUAL LOVE and she will look for ATTENTION in any way she can get it. This is why you don't see us very often out and about.  This is why we are prisoners in our own home.  We are doing everything we can to keep her away from all the wonderful people who just want to say hi and tell her how cute she is."

I then went upstairs not five minutes later to give her her breakfast and she smiled at me like nothing happened...this is the norm (she really wasn't upset...she just wanted to see how I would react and wanted attention for it).  Because of her violent behavior she has to spend most of her time in her room...she actually prefers it right now because of her attachment disorder...being with people who love her makes her feel crazy inside and so she acts out when she is with us. She knows how to earn her way out of her room...but she always sabotages it somehow daily.  She will stay there until she decides to earn it.

I cringe when I realize what we truly have to do.  But then I have to remind myself that her brain is sick.  So just like a child who's body is sick, we have to take the hard steps to heal her. While she may not seem different or sick...SHE IS. She has RAD and if we don't help her heal now she has all the makings of a psychopath.  That's right...a psychopath.  She feels no guilt...no remorse.  Her daily goal is to show Flavio, me and her teachers/therapists that we are not in control of her.

I realize it sounds like we are labeling her.  But because of that label we have been able to find help and hope in her school and in her therapist.  My daughter can't handle the normal real world right now and all the well wishers in it.  So this is my sign for her.  We love all you well wishers so much, we just wish she could love you too.

Lots of love,
Niki


Monday, June 22, 2015

New Hope with RAD

I thought I'd update those who have been asking about how miss L is doing with this new RAD or Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis.  It has been a few months and one would hope that we would be seeing improvements with her therapy.

Many people ask how things are going and unfortunately that is a loaded question.

In the end, it's just a day to day and week to week thing.  RAD therapy takes years.

RAD is a brain trauma.  In fact it is compared to PTSD.  It takes months if not years for any transformation and in the process of healing some days can be worse from the actual therapy.

So I write to you to tell you that not much has improved.  Miss L does ride a horse every Saturday which has, we feel, calmed her tantrums down quite a bit...and then tonight she reminded us that she still is able to pack a punch...literally.

We found what we consider her contraband hidden under her carpet and baseboards tonight, as we have stripped the rest of her room bare so that was one of that last places she had to hide anything she has stolen...we found seven items thus far.

RAD is a painful journey and a lonely journey.  Not very many understand what it is like to have a child with RAD...it's like having a child with a terminal spiritual condition (chronic lying, stealing, hurting, defying, disobedient, unloving, and false charming) that you know if you don't fix it now, will one day lead them down a road of jail, drugs or death in this life.

So we are doing our best to fix it.

But I am still a mess.  I am still a crazy bedtime, nap time, rule crazy mom because if I'm not my little RAD child will walk all over us.  The rules in my house are unlike so many that it is hard for me to even relate to normal any more.

I hide in my home, in my room, in my tub.  I cry in my shower, in my pillow, and out loud.

I have those in my life who have shown me amazing love and support and those who have shown me none.  Such as all of us do.  But most importantly I have found a love and relationship with the One who truly does understand my suffering here within my home and have leaned on Him more than I ever have in my life, even during our infertility journey.

I am grateful to all of you who have sent me texts or brought me flowers, who have called me on the phone to say hello.  I am grateful for those who have offered to watch my other kids while I cart miss L around to her therapy and her amazing new school, New Hope Academy.

While I talk about how difficult this journey is, I know that miss L was sent here to teach me how to love more deeply than I ever knew possible.  Loving someone who despises you is hard.  It's fall on your knees, I want to give up hard.  However, she was entrusted to me so that I may find a way to help her overcome the horrible hurt that was done to her so early on in her life.  Coming here to little Saratoga Springs has given us and her the tools with a school, a therapist and horse therapy every week.  By the time she is healed I know my knees will be sore from my pleas and cries to my Heavenly Father.  But I pray every day that her little life will bring new hope of a love none of us can now possibly imagine.

So those around me please be patient with me as I go through my ups and downs.  I too have been diagnosed with PTSD:  (http://www.come-over.to/FAS/RADparentsPSTD.htm)  So my hurt is deeper than I thought.  I am learning and growing through this crazy process and hope one day to find myself again...a much better version of myself :)

I love all of you who have truly been my friends.  I have felt your love and your prayers and I will always be grateful to you.

Lots of love,
Niki

Sunday, May 10, 2015

When Mother's Day Hurts

Today was such a good day for me.  My husband let me sleep in a little longer, he brought me my favorite breakfast in bed, rice chex and a banana (I know I'm a fancy girl).  When I finally dragged myself out of bed I had four little people waiting for me to give me hugs and kisses and show me the cards and presents they made for me at school.  Flavio had given me a card with all their little signatures or scribbles.  It was everything a mother could ask for....

After I put the cards and presents away, I really sat back and looked at my children in awe and thought...who would have thought that these four little munchkins would be calling me, mother.

I can vividly remember when Mother's Day ripped me apart.  I hated it.  I loathed it.  I wept because of it.  My dreams of being a mom were dashed by our infertility and we had already gone through two IVF treatments when our second Mother's Day hit.  I wanted to hide in a cave and be swallowed whole.  I was desperately to escape this empty hell I was living.  But the living should go on living, so I decided to go to our LDS church anyway knowing I would just be hit with a pain I wasn't sure I could bear.

I don't remember too much of the meetings that day.  Just the constant barrage of reminders that I wasn't a part of "that" club yet.  Of course ALL the women received something, but in my mind I felt like it was more of a consolation prize.  Everyone was nice and kind and pleasant.  But in reality, the whole day just hurt.  My heart, my mind, my soul hurt.  I came home and cried.

So for all you women out there who are crying today because your heart is aching for that little one to hold, my heart aches with you and for you.  No one who has never gone through the pain of infertility will ever understand this pain.  While I do not say to wallow in your misery because that is never healthy, I do understand that this day does hurt.  I pray that it won't always hurt for you.  I pray that soon Mother's Day will be a good day as it was for me today.  May your next Mother's Day be one of happiness and joy is my prayer for you.

Lots of love,
Niki


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Living with Reactive Attachment Disorder

Many of you have asked what it's like to have a child who has RAD.

Here is a run down of what I deal with at home.

L gets up around 7:30 each morning, however she is usually in her room freaking out because one of her blankets isn't feeling right.  We have to ignore that.  She has an alarm on her door and a camera in her room because she wanders at night and steals food and snacks from our pantry to eat, she also can be dangerous at night so it's to protect our other children.

At 7:30 I open the door and smile to say good morning, depending on the morning she will either grunt like a little animal or say good morning back.  If she grunts I am to shut her door and wait for her to act more appropriately which can take up to two hours of screaming and yelling at me.

When L yells at me it is not your typical yelling session.  I used to get mad at my mom.  I even yelled at her a few times but this was when I was a teenager and it was never anything like this.

This is how L treats me at the age of 6.

"I hate you!"  "You are the worst mom ever!"  "You are so mean!"  "You're not my mom, I will never do what you want me to do!"  "You don't care!"  "I don't care about you!" "You are ruining my life!"  "I don't want you as my family!"  "I want a new family!"

Luckily in our house we don't swear, so she doesn't know any curse words...yet.

As she is yelling I am to maintain a calm face and when she is done with her rant I am to hug her and let her know I love her.

In her mind she doesn't want to be loved and through this therapy I am showing her that no matter what she does or how she treats me...I will still love her.  This is very hard to do.

L will push little J down punch little E in the stomach or face.  L will break toys and ruin furniture.

She is now in a stealing mood and pees in her pants and on furniture every day.  She is to wash her clothes out by hand when she does this.  She is also to do chores in order to pay back for what she stole. (please understand this is not medical it is behavioral)

L also lies about everything every day and she's good at it.  She goes into crazy detail and can fool almost any adult.

The hardest part I think however, is the inability to feel that bond with my child.  Imagine for one second that one of your children whom you love and have loved just didn't love you back.  They constantly gave you negative energy and feedback.  They squirm at your touch and can't make eye contact with you.

Imagine that when you try to correct them of their wrong, all they do is smile and laugh because hurting you is their main source of entertainment.

Imagine that when they see anyone else they are a complete angel for that stranger or friend or family member who has done no where near as much to love and care for them. ( I know most kids are nicer to others but she is extremely cruel to me and extremely sweet to others)

Now don't misunderstand this post.  L is not to blame.  These are all symptoms of a horrific disorder where she was not given the love she deserved in utero.  She didn't ask for this.  This is not her fault.

But living with a child who has Reactive Attachment Disorder is like living in your own personal hell.

There is so much hate and mistrust.  So many lies and hurtful words.

She charms everyone around her and beats me up at home.  Parents of RAD children are considered abused parents.  It is a lonely scary battle where so many will never understand and so many will judge.

Many of these children get lost in the foster program never getting the help they need.  


Again, I am not writing this out of some self fulfillment of pity. 
While this has been one of the most difficult trials of my life I am one who feels the need to share with others so others may benefit from my own experience.

These children can be healed.

It's a long and can be expensive process, but there is help and these children deserve a chance.

I love my L.

I am fighting for her and I will continue to fight for others now.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Lots of love,
Niki


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

RAD is not Rad

It has been awhile since I posted about our journey with Lia.  These last couple of months have been trying to say the least and yet just like the rest of you who struggle every day with so many of life's horrible twists and turns, we keep moving on.

As you may know, we have been trying to find a true diagnosis for our daughter, Lia.  We know she is gifted and has SPD (http://spdfoundation.net/about-sensory-processing-disorder.html).  We have been trying to find therapists and medical professionals to help us help her for over 4 years now.  It has been trying, exhausting and just plain overwhelming.  The reason we have been pressing is because of her increasingly very very difficult behavior at home.  She is defiant, disobedient, she lies about everything, EVERYTHING, and she is mean.  She is cruel to her 3 year old sister and bullies her older sister, now her older sister has issues about her body and thinks she is fat.  We have had to keep Lia away from her siblings at times for their own protection.

It's debilitating as a family.

Most days I just feel worn down and depressed.

For so long I knew her behavior wasn't normal.  We tried everything, we read every book.  There was no way being gifted could cause this and SPD didn't totally explain it either.  But what else could it be?  Our doctor thought is was Autism, but this last year we realized that isn't it.  Another doctor thought maybe bi-polar, but that is a very tricky one to diagnose.  I have felt like we've been going around in circles with doctors and therapists who all meant well, but also just didn't know where to place her.  In the end, we felt lost and didn't know what to do.  Flavio's uncle awhile back had told us he thought is was something called RAD or Reactive Attachment Disorder, but I waved that off because we had adopted her as a baby.  She didn't have an attachment disorder, I had done skin to skin with her...we held her and loved her, we sang to her and took care of her since she was two weeks, we comforted her when she cried we kissed her and hugged her, how could she not have attached?  It didn't make sense.

But we were wrong to move on.

Because, a month ago, after talking with another mother who has a child with RAD, when she described her child I knew this was it!

Lia indeed has RAD and she was properly diagnosed two weeks ago.

The crazy part is: she developed RAD in utero.  The stress, drugs and alcohol hurt her so much, she never attached to us properly. And those two weeks in foster care probably didn't help.  Looking back I can see this to be true, but I thought it was all me.  I thought I was doing something wrong, I thought I wasn't doing enough.  But apparently it didn't matter who ended up taking this precious child, she didn't have the capability to attach to anyone even her own birthmother.

After many prayers and fasting we were able to find a therapist here in AF who works with kids who have RAD and they also have a school!!!  What?!  It's been a miracle.

If you want to know more about what RAD is, here is website that lists the symptoms and causes of this horrible disorder: (http://www.attachment.org/reactive-attachment-disorder/). These poor children have no chance without the right kind of help.  Their ability to love is distorted and causes so many relationship issues, including those with their own parents and siblings.

Again, I write these posts in hopes of maybe helping someone else out there who is suffering a battle they don't have a name for.  Having a child who feels no guilt for the bad choices they make and has no problem with their defiance and lies is exhausting and overwhelming day in and day out.  If you feel your child may have RAD, have him/her tested.  The earlier you get help the better chance you have to help your child and yourself.

Lots of love,
From a RAD mother, Niki


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Two Cents for Lisa Ling

I read this amazing article today and knew I had to add my two cents for myself and maybe to help get the word out...although I'm pretty sure writing to Lisa Ling is far more reaching ;)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erin-zahradka/open-invitation-to-lisa-l_b_6047910.html

Oh how I wish there was more support for our family and our daughter!  Trying to figure everything out myself has been so overwhelming.  Most people just don't understand why having a "gifted" child is NOT easy.  Gifted does not mean breeze through school and get into Yale on a scholarship.  It means she questions right now almost every day whether or not I know the answer to 2+2.  And even though she knows the answer, when I don't give her the answer she gets mad and yells at me and throws her pencil across the room.  It means that the fun night at the fireworks equals the next day our sweet girl will be throwing tantrums and freaking out over not being able to get dressed or make her bed because her schedule was tampered with.  It means that instead of being able to tell me that she left her homework at school, even though the teacher puts in her bag, that her friend "so-in-so" took it home so she could copy it and then she would give it back (all a lie).  She tests me, she stretches the truth constantly and she is emotionally exhausting and yet there are so many children just like mine and there is NO HELP for us.  None.  There are a few programs here and there but not enough from a young age to support these beautiful children.   We could pay enormous amounts of money to have her go to private school that may or may not help with gifted children.  We already pay therapists and psychologists lots of money each week so that we can get some relief from her intense world.  But she does not qualify for any programs to ease our burdens...because there is no such thing.

These amazingly smart, yet socially disabled (yes I used the "d" word) will grow up to be adults one day.  Do we want to help these kids become a large and most likely amazing part of our academic and scientific society or do we want to allow them to shrink into the shadows of our world just like so many do.  There have been some studies done from the 50s until now of how having an high IQ as a child is linked with a higher drug and substance abuse as an adult.  Theories for this include our society placing beauty and popularity over intelligence when it comes to social status and the inability of our public schools and programs to help children with higher IQs fit into the usual structure in a public school classroom: they get bored.  Here are some sites that talk about these ideas:

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/intelligent-people-are-more-likely-use-drugs-why
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115802/intelligence-and-drinking-studies-say-theres-correlation
http://www.drugrehab.us/news/high-iq-in-childhood-may-increase-risks-for-illicit-drug-use-in-adulthood/

All-in-all so many of our gifted children get swept under the rug unless a parent or an amazing teacher steps up to the plate.  But I have found, as I stepped up to the plate with our daughter so many are wanting to sweep me back under.  Forget about it, to just let her be.  Don't worry about her, she'll be fine.  And I'm told this by the few people who should really be on my side, teachers, family, etc. How can I keep fighting if I keep getting knocked down?  Just because we don't understand something doesn't make it not real.  My reality of raising a child who is gifted is just that, my reality. You may not understand my reality.  Like you may not understand the racial reality we face in our family, or the hurtful and insensitive comments about our infertility and how we got our family, but it's my reality.  Just like you have your reality.

Giftedness is a reality.  And if the schools don't start helping families like ours, these precious minds will be wasted to either boredom or in too many cases drugs and alcohol.

I am fighting for my daughter.  I always will.   I hope one day she will be able to function in a world where beauty and popularity far outweighs how smart someone is.  I hope she will overcome the peer pressure of fitting in to become the amazing bright star she was intended to be.   We may be on our own, with me being the crazy mom to her teachers and her friend's parents and to family members ...but if she gets through her adolescence with confidence in who she really is, then I frankly I don't care what others think and I will be that "Crazy Mom" down the street any day.

P.S. Lisa Ling if this small little blog ever finds you...I too want you to please use your star power and stir up the pot to help children like mine to talk of how inadequate our country is when it comes to serving the exceptionally bright.  Thank you.

Lots of love,
Niki