Living with a RAD child tends to cause a little bit of havoc to a family... and to a marriage. Actually I think that I might even be putting that a little too mildly. Let's face it, everyone in a RAD family is completely stressed out... everyone is totally exhausted... and the parents are spending most of their energy just trying to keep the roof on the house. It's a little difficult to spend your days investigating the deaths of lizards and birds... frantically searching for a missing snake (one that was never to be found)... and then just put it all aside to have a nice relaxing evening with your family. It's just not possible. It is so difficult to give all of your children the attention that they deserve when you have one child that honestly requires the attention of six parents. Yes, it really does take a lot of patience on the part of everyone in the family to successfully manage a RAD child.
Our family has spent the last six plus years of our lives trying to look... and live... like any other normal family. Yet reality has always told us that we were quite far from being normal. In fact, our family was actually starting to look more and more dysfunctional as time went by. Let's face it...normal families just don't sit in restaurants watching their child drawing pictures of people with knives.... vehicles completely colored in with red crayon.... and listening to their child casually saying, "all of the people in the van are dead." Once you start to hear things like this, you immediately become very aware that something has gone terribly wrong today. Its days like this, which fortunately don't happen all that frequently, that I feel the need to stay as close as possible to my son. In fact, on that particular day, I chose to sit in the back seat with my son on the car ride back home. As he started to cuddle in really close... and started hugging me... I couldn't help but relax and even start to question whether or not I was being just a little bit paranoid. Then all of a sudden, right in the middle of that nice warm hug, my son quickly managed to sink his teeth right into my shoulder... and bit down really hard. It was then that I was suddenly jolted back into reality. Yes, we certainly did have a big problem here.
It really is quite difficult to just go home after an evening like that... tuck your child into bed... and pretend that everything is okay. RAD parents sometimes have to spend an entire evening trying to analyze these types of behaviors... and trying to decide how to handle certain situations. We need to try and figure out why our son put all of those tacks down the back staircase... and why he would ever admit that he actually did it on purpose because he wanted his dad to step on them. We need to talk about the furnace repair man that came out to the house today... the one that told us how lucky we were that our house hadn't blown up. We need to discuss the incident with the rear windshield wiper on the van... and figure out the best way to discipline a child that very defiantly smiled at us just before he reached up and snapped it in half. Then, we still need to come up with some type of a plan to try and prevent our child from throwing the car door open while we're driving down the street. Yes, there are just so many interesting things to talk about when you live with a RAD child.
Then, there are just so many things that we need to do before we can sit down and relax for the evening. Someone still needs to fix that broken window so it will stop raining in the kitchen. Someone needs to climb up on the garage roof and remove all of those toys that were thrown up there today. Somebody needs to bathe Aisha, the rabbit, to see if we can get some of that permanent marker washed off of her body. Someone will need to fix the bedroom door alarm... the one that "accidently" fell off last night. We still need to carry that broken dresser out to the curb, and somebody will have to volunteer to swim to the bottom of the pool and retrieve the patio furniture. We still need to clean up the broken pieces of drywall... and we desperately need somebody to continue searching the upstairs of the house to try to find the source of that urine smell. Then, there's still that choir concert dilemma, and we still haven't decided who's going... and who will have to stay home. Not to mention having to reason with a daughter who's very upset because she's worked so hard... and she wants "both" of her parents to hear her sing this time. Yes, life is far from boring when you live with a RAD child.
Sometimes I really envy my husband for being able to walk away every morning and go off to work. Sometimes I'd really like to trade places with him, and let him be the one to get those telephone calls everyday from the school. There have definitely been many days that I've wished that he could be the one to figure out how to carry an 80 pound child that's kicking and screaming... that he would have to figure out how to safely drive the car while being hit in the back of the head with flying objects... or that he could have been the one to wrestle his child down to the floor in the video store while a dozen strangers stood by watching in disbelief. On the other hand, sometimes I actually feel very sorry for my husband. Quite sadly, it's the husbands that tend to come last in a RAD family. They seem to get stuck way down there near the bottom of that very long "to do" list, somewhere between shaving your legs... and mowing the lawn. Sad... but oh so very true. If you live with a RAD child... you are definitely going to need to have a very patient husband. He'll need to be able to smile, and settle for burgers and hot dogs again... instead of homemade lasagna or chimichangas. He's going to have to accept the fact that you are going to have quite a few more headaches than the average mother. Most importantly, he'll need to learn to look beyond the bruises... bite marks... and the dark circles under your eyes... and remember what you used to look like before you became a RAD mother.
Amazingly, our family still managed to stumble through each day. Some days I daydreamed about what our lives would be like if we had never adopted this child... then there were other days that I couldn't even imagine our lives without him. Some days I would just sit there smiling at him and shaking my head in disbelief... and then there were other days when no matter how hard I tried to fight it... all I could do is just sit down and cry. A very wise woman once told me, "That that does not kill us... makes us stronger." I tried to remember those words when the days got really bad... and I sometimes took great comfort in knowing that we were all still very much alive... and still managing to survive this very chaotic life. Yet, I couldn't help but wonder... if I was getting stronger... why was I so tired all the time? If I was stronger... why was I finding myself pacing the floors... and why was I beginning to talk to myself?"
I made an appointment to go in and speak with the therapist that my son was currently seeing. I guess at that point I was really just looking for someone to offer me a little hope that life would get better. Her words cut like a knife. "YOU CAN'T FIX THIS!" she very bluntly announced to me. I honestly couldn't believe what I was hearing. His own therapist had given up on him. This woman who I had been dragging my son off to see every week... for more than a year... couldn't even bring herself to offer me one small piece of hope. I was totally devastated.
That evening I sat down at my computer and started researching all of the Residential Treatment Facilities in the area. I was much too tired to continue living like this. I knew that my son was beginning to push me a little too far over the edge... and I wanted out. Who was I trying to kid anyway? I knew that I could never be the kind of parent that he needed me to be... and now, I also knew that there was no hope for him. It was then that I realized that my wise friend was sadly mistaken. No... I wasn't dead... but I certainly wasn't getting any stronger either. "He" was the one that was getting stronger... and I was giving up. Yet, what kind of a mother just gives up on her child? Hopefully not this mother. At least not just yet.