Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Control Freak

Hello, my name is Liz and I am a control freak.

I like things just so.  I don't like change nor do I like to veer off all!  I like my dishes in certain places, clothing in certain drawers, toys in certain bins and my kids to follow certain rules.  Nothing gets my panties (Geez I hate that word) in a bunch more than when I observe my children (certain ones in particular) blatantly breaking a rule with other unsuspecting adults.  I hardly ever hire a babysitter in part because of this.  The worst two culprits are Izzy and Dasha.  If I leave the house, Dasha thinks it's a free for all to do as she pleases.  She makes a mess of the toys in the playroom, entertains herself in the bathroom, disappears upstairs doing God knows what or takes Leo's iPad from him constantly.  Izzy seems to follow suit and starts making up stuff with babysitters and doing things that normally wouldn't fly if I were home.  Putting them to bed can take an hour or more for babysitters with multiple shenanigans from both girls.  I know this can be normal behavior, but it still drives me nuts.  

A few months ago, we hired two babysitters (adult women with lots of experience from a sitter service) to watch the younger four during my dad's funeral and we were gone for several hours.  I think the women were exhausted by Izzy and Dasha which most people would assume would be the easier two.  Nope.  Leo and Lily are by far much easier.  They don't demand the attention and act like they are starved for it.  I sometimes wonder if there is an adoption element involved or is it because we rarely hire babysitters.  Our boys, Riley and Kaelan, are our main babysitters (and I'm using the term lightly here).  Usually, we put the younger ones to bed before we even go out because it's just easier.  A big reason it's easier is it helps me avoid giving someone a 15 minute dissertation on the ins and outs of our glorious clan.  Most babysitters eyes start crossing after a few minutes and I can see the anxiety clouding their expression as they are thinking "Oh my god, how am I ever going to remember all of this?!"  I really think it would behoove me to write a manual or a guide book about my kids for this very reason.  

Hard to believe these two become Thing One and Thing Two when babysitters are around. ;)

At school, we have one major rule with Dasha.  No hugging anyone.  So, guess how many times I see her try to and often succeed with hugging someone at school when I pick her up early or if I'm dropping off a sibling?  Usually at least one person gets a hug or a squeeze.  I've even seen her sneak a kiss on her (male) bus driver's hand.  ARGHH.  If I hear one more time "that all people with Down syndrome are always loving and affectionate" and basically allude to the fact that I'm overreacting about the whole thing, I might just blow a gasket and go ape crazy.  I've gotten to the point where I'm pretty frank with everyone.  I will ask them if they think it would be acceptable say when Dasha is 18 to be kissing some man's hand?  How about climbing on some complete stranger's lap for a bit of attention?  Or how about sidling up to a man at the mall and grabbing his hand with a sweet smile like he's her long lost grandfather when she's 25. Let's not stop with the opposite sex.  How about walking up to a woman I or she barely knows and giving her a hug and a rub on the back?  Or let's talk peers.  Dasha observes a couple of girls hugging in the hall at school or say a boyfriend and a girlfriend hugging and runs up to join in since she just adores group hugs.  

We were at my brother's house a few weeks back for my niece's birthday party.  I knew my niece's maternal grandparents as well as an aunt would be there.  Dasha has met them a couple of times over the past 4 years, but does not know them very well at all.  I warned her before we even entered the house about "NO HUGGING" people we don't know.  Less than a half hour later she was sandwiched in-between the aunt and grandfather (who Dasha is not related to either) holding hands with the aunt.  I walked in the room and immediately called her over to correct her.  A big clue of whether or not Dasha knows someone well enough to hug them is her ability to call them by name.  Obviously she didn't have a clue what their names were.  Next, I explained to all of the adults present how Dasha needs boundaries and why she needs boundaries so they didn't think I was blowing up the situation out of proportion.  Not 30 minutes later she was back pressed next to her cousin's grandfather (again not Dasha's grandfather) with her arm slung around his neck.  

I know people love her and worry about hurting her feelings.  I get that and agree she really is very lovable, but I just have to be black and white with her.  Dasha learned very early on in her life at the orphanage that being loving, kind and sweet was the way to go to gain positive frequent attention.  She was an orphanage favorite and even had boys in her groupa very protective of her.   She uses her charm and uses it well.  The problem is she cannot differentiate between relatives, acquaintances and strangers.  To her they are all fair game for a great big Dasha love fest.

Dasha and her baby dolls.
As we approach her annual IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting in December, I think I'm going to have to have it written into her IEP what is acceptable for Dasha to receive in praise in school.  I'm talking about things like thumbs up, high fives and handshakes.  Dasha has plenty of relatives and close friends to hug, kiss and cuddle with whom she is around all of the time.  Everyone else needs to keep an arms length unless we've given them the go ahead to hug her.  She just can't understand it any other way and the behavior has gotten worse this year.  It may be because we've had a few changes this year with her school and therapists. I've gone over this many times over the years with the school, but have never had it officially written in her IEP.  Once it's written in the IEP, the school has to follow it to the letter.    

We've also had some issues with begging or stealing from other people's plates.  This was very common when she came home and is another orphanage behavior, but it got better for awhile, but the behavior has had a resurgence lately too.  This can happen while around relatives, friends or even strangers.  I'm as strict about this as I am about hugging because people hand this child anything.  She bats her eyes and gives them a Dasha 1000 watt smile and they are throwing food at her.  Whatever she wants or desires.  So now she thinks everyone should share their meal.  She'll even eye the same food she's eating sitting on someones else's plate. Maybe she thinks it tastes better from their plate?  Again I have to be a control freak and shut down the sharing.  Just imagine Dasha being fully included in the school lunch room.  She looks over at the girl sitting next to her and covets her delicious lunch.  Say Dasha brought a sack lunch with a PBJ and potato chips.  The girl has pot roast with mashed potatoes and green beans.  Dasha starts pointing and asking the girl for some of her lunch.  She may even steal some of the girl's food if the girl turns to talk to a friend.  She's not going to be very popular with the kids by bugging them about or at worst stealing their food.    

So anyone reading this who knows us and has hugged Dasha, please don't think I'm mad at you or resent you for loving on my sweetheart of a daughter.  I, for one, know she can be quite irresistible at times.  :)  I even might give you the okay to hug her because we see you all of the time and she actually can state your name, and then by all means hug her, but please understand if I ask you not to hug her.  It's really in Dasha's best interests as she grows older. Thank you!



hsb7x said...

Hi Liz,
I am Heather - and I emailed you a while back. I like to read your blog. We adopted Teagan and Tobias in 2008 from Guatemala through For this child. Anyway... I get what you are saying. Teagan- a regular adopted girl like Izzy, does this hugging, lap junk with most men that aren't her Dad. It drives me crazy. I guess it must be sort of adoption related issue and not just Downs Syndrome kids. It just seems like she wants to get a mans attention- it was really bad when she was younger- but it has gotten some better as she has gotten older. It is ridiculous at family gatherings. She usually hooks up with some uncle(that she doesn't really know) or boy cousin teenager and hangs with them all night. She follows them around, hugs them, jumps on their lap, wants to be carried. It is really weird, because she won't really hug, or love on her Dad- unless there is food or some other " thing" she wants. I keep thinking we are going to be in trouble if she is still doing this into her teenage years. Yikes. What to do?

Melissa said...

I have to say this kind of behavior really concerns me. My friends daughter was abused by a man and she knows no boundaries, my husband won't ever be alone with her.(For both of their protection). She has the body of a young woman now, and what happens when she solicits attention from the wrong person?For Dasha I would say go back to the rule that ONLY close immediate family members can hug her. Good luck.