And so dawns another day......

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Gramma, Sep 8, 2007.

  1. Gramma

    Gramma New Member

    Hi. I am at my wits end. Today I decided it might be better if I just drove my car off the freeway overpass. I just am making too many mistakes with my difficult children. No, I’m not going to drive it off the overpass, just feel like it.

    My household includes my husband, adult daughter and her 4 boys (difficult children) and the son’s 3 girls (difficult children) that we are raising. Considering all the difficult children and their assorted problems and attitudes we are doing fairly well. We fortunately are renting a 6 bedroom house (4,000 sq ft) so there is room for everyone with out bumping into each other. It’s when one difficult child or another decides to monopolize everyone’s attention and time causing a complete breakdown in any structure we might have had going on that day. And so dawns another day......

    I am weary. We have raised our 3 difficult children for 6-1/2 years. Rescued them from the daughter-in-law after she took them to a drug party. Daddy was trucking with his girlfriend.

    difficult child #1 decided over the summer to live with her dad, they had a blowout and he sent her home to us. First couple weeks back was a honeymoon period. She was adorable and sweet. She’s been here about a month now and she is moody, cries all the time, instigates fights among all the other difficult children and then denies any part of her involvement. She ducks out of her chores whenever she can and when she does them, it is only done sloppy.

    She has informed us that living with her dad, his girlfriend and their 2 boys is far better than living here. We have given up so much to raise these girls that I am crushed when she says that. Her dad lives in a hovel and has geese, ducks and a rooster in the living room. There are 3 ferrets in the boys bedroom, can’t find the kitchen for the filth, and his most beloved pets are his spiders and scorpions!! Enough of that.....anyway she says she’d rather go back than stay here. I have no idea what I am doing wrong. My husband is heartbroken. He was crushed when she wanted to stay at her dads. I am so upset with her that I almost wish she were gone.

    difficult child #2 spend 6-1/2 years having tantrums that were Academy Award winners. This girl can scream non-stop for 3 hours. She has pulled her hair out in clumps, bites herself til she bleeds, hits herself til she’s bruised.....the list goes on and on. For the better part of 6 years, I was basically housebound as I was afraid to be in public with her for fear that she would start a tantrum or someone would see her self-inflicted bruises and think we did it. In the last month and a half since we have been in “the big house” as we call it, the tantrums have stopped. She is a model child. She sings or hums constantly, does her homework without being told and stays at it until it is finished. She willingly does her chores and often those that other difficult children won’t do. She finally is a joy, but oh the journey was a LONG one, let me tell you. And one I didn’t think we would live through.

    difficult child#3 is cognitive disability (what a term!!). She has her moments when she is sweet, but those moments are fleeting as you find the wet, soiled clothing hiding in her drawers or that the new bottles of shampoo and conditioner you put in their bathtub yesterday is all gone as it was used for play during her shower. She tends to take difficult child cousins favorite Legos and either manages to break the little men during play or they find their way into her backpack. She goes into her Aunt’s room and takes anything not nailed down and then lies about it.

    She was potty trained, then started wetting at night, now it is all day, too. I don’t want her classmates to laugh at her if I send her to school in GoodNights pullups, but I don’t want her wet and smelly, either. She has stopped wiping her bottom so her underwear is disgusting at best. I can’t seem to get her to understand the need to wipe and keep her panties clean. She used to be so good about this, but the last 6 months or so she has gotten really bad. I love her dearly, but am fed up.

    I wonder what I did to get 3 difficult children. I signed on to raise the 3 girls thinking that with 3 square meals, clean beds, cute clothes, daily baths and the occasional hugs that it would be alright. I had no idea that the kids came with baggage that would test our very souls and every ounce of our energy.

    I don’t want this challenge. I need a break. I want some ME time. Can’t remember when I worked on my scrapbooking last, crocheted, cooked for the love of it, or sewed for fun. These kids take everything out of me and I am tired and drained. I truly wonder if I was that much of a sh-- to my parents and if that is why I got my difficult children to raise. We go through the motions of parenting without any of the feeling. It’s like walking in a fog.
     
  2. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    First of all, welcome to the site. I'm glad you found us.

    You sound exhausted and overwhelmed. Are the kids in treatment or on any medications? Have you looked into respite care and in-home family services or wrap around services? You need a break. I'm not sure what agency you go through to get these services, but others on the board utilize them and can be of more help to you.

    As for oldest difficult child...it's not uncommon for children to idolize the absent parent whether difficult child or easy child. It just becomes trickier when you throw in GFGdom.

    Many of us have blamed ourselves at one time or another. However, you have provided stability and love when their parents wouldn't or couldn't. So, cut yourself some slack. :smile: Raising these children is not easy and is quite often trial by fire. We're all doing the best we can.

    (((hugs)))
     
  3. Stella Johnson

    Stella Johnson Active Member

    You really have your hands full! :smile:

    Are the difficult children on any medications? Have they had full evaluations through a children's hospital? If not, might want to look into it. Did their mother do drugs while she was pregnant? The poor babies have so many problems. :sad:

    I can't imagine how hard it is on you with that many kids.

    difficult child #1 probably doesn't really think her dad's is a better place to live. She's saying it because she knows it hurts you. I would try not to react when she says things like that. May take a while but eventually if she can't get a rise out of you, it should stop.

    difficult child #2 sounds like she has made real progress.

    difficult child #3 really sounds like a handful. My difficult child used to do the same thing with bubble bath and shampoo. She did it for years and it drove me up a wall. I ended up hiding it from her. If she washed her hair, I gave her enough for her hair and took the bottle.

    As far as the wetting, does she know she is doing it? Does she realize that she has wet pants on? I have heard of some kids that refuse to believe they have done it and will argue until they are blue in the face. Has she been checked to make sure she doesn't have real bladder problems? Sometimes it can be a bladder that is too small.... there are a few other things as well. Can't remember them all. My difficult child has had urinary tract problems for a few years now.

    Really sounds like you need to look into getting respite care for the kids once in a while. YOu really do need time for yourself. It will make you much stronger to deal with the kids and all their issues.

    Check with the school district and ask if they have respite funds or know of a state agency where you can get them where you are. For the last few years my difficult child has gotten respite funds through the school district. It was enough to pay for her special needs camp which was very expensive. Others use it to pay actual respite providers or for extra curricular activities so that the parents have some time off.

    Glad you found us. This is a great place for support.

    Steph :warrior:
     
  4. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    Sounds like you are doing what you can for difficult children. Hide in the bathroom (with the door locked) for a while. Hot tub nice book makes for good you time. I agree looking into some sort of respite would be good.

    Breathe, Breathe, Breathe......

    Beth
     
  5. neednewtechnique

    neednewtechnique New Member

    Well, welcome to the board, I am so glad you found us, I hope that we can be a great support system for you!! Your post reminds me so much of when I first started searching and found this board. Believe me, I was here on an almost daily basis and it wasn't long before all these super parents had helped me find the CONFIDENCE I needed to tackle the challenge of raising difficult child's.

    First of all, the biggest thing you must remember is whatever they say, you cannot take it personally. They are throwing insults and horrible things at you to get a reaction. You should not give her the benefit of knowing that she has hurt your feelings and if you try to separate yourself from it, eventually you will be able to take it and it really WON'T hurt your feelings. At first, it tore me up to hear our difficult child say such horrible things to me, because like you, I did not sign up for this, and when my husband asked about letting his daughter move in with us, I had NO IDEA what we were in for, but in his defense, neither did he.

    Second of all, the greatest thing that saved our sanity was doing exactly what you did, go out and get a 4,000 square foot house. This gives everyone plenty of space and trust me, as bad as things are now, if all three of those kids and the rest of you were living in a place any smaller, the problems would be MUCH WORSE. Although it is a BEAR to keep up with so much house, I LOVE having the space and it has SAVED us from killing each other I think.

    Are your grand children on any medications? Having the right amounts of the right types of medications can sometimes make all the difference in the world. If they are not on medications or you are of the preference not to medicate, then I would say weekly counseling and specialized behavior therapy programs are a MUST.

    I am looking forward to getting to know you! Good luck with the grandbabies!
     
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Stella said what I was going to say - difficult child 1 probably hates it at her father's place, she's just saying that to hurt you when she's angry with you. And by letting it get to you (ie by believing this huge lie which is so obviously a lie) you are letting her win.

    Ignore her when she says this, or maybe reply with, "You are right, you are so underprivileged here. You have so much space here that you are lonely; the place is so sanitized that you are out of touch with your connection to Mother Nature and all her glorious smells and poop, you are being made to do chores so when you are an adult you will be able to get on with other people and live independently, you are being made accountable which is just not fair to a child who wants to live free and easy and still be fed at mealtimes with a balanced diet. I'm mean because I make you eat good food, I take you to the doctor instead of just letting nature take its course, and I'm also mean because I talk to the teachers at school which is sooo embarrassing... yeah, life is really rough here."
    Then walk away.

    You've made good progress with difficult child 2.

    And difficult child 3 - send her to school in Pull-ups. I reckon the problem would fix itself FAST.

    At home - this is what we had to do.
    Check bottoms after each session in the toilet. Keep wet wipes and a bin beside the toilet, wash her bottom for her when needed (or supervise her washing her own bottom). We had a telephone shower in the bathroom - we could use it like a hose on grotty kids. Many was the time we stripped a kid off, tossed them into the shower and hosed them down.
    The smell test works well, too. We did it; teachers did it. I got phone calls a number of times to come to the school with a change of clothes for my difficult child 3, then I had to take him out of class and clean him up, before sending him back in. Don't worry about Pull-ups making it obvious there-s a problem - kids have functioning noses, they will ostracise a kid for being messy, when they won't ostracise a kid with a genuine bladder or bowel problem.
    When you go to fast food places which have individual towelettes - save them and put them in her school lunchbox. She can use them to clean herself up if she has an accident. She can also use them to wash her hands before eating her lunch - probably necessary, if she's not cleaning herself up properly.

    The more you can support her to clean herself up, the faster she will learn. This isn't a punishment, it's a life skill she needs. Don't scold, just be matter-of-fact.
    "Your pants are dirty? OK, we will clean up. First take them off. Now use this disposable cloth. Put the cloth in the bin. let me check - yes, you are now clean. Now wipe your bottom with this cream to take away the stinging. Put on this clean pair of pants - don't they feel comfortable? Now rinse your dirty pants and put them in the laundry. I will wash them in the next load. Well done - job finished, now go and play. You smell so sweet now."

    Bubble bath & shampoo - we bought cheap brands and kept them rationed. Those little containers you get in motels - keep refilling those. Put in just enough for her to use, no more. A small kid shouldn't need as much shampoo as an adult, if they use too much it actually makes the hair dirtier, because an overload of shampoo can't be washed out as effectively and the residue then traps dirt.

    We also collect those little bottles of bubble mix they hand out at weddings and let our difficult child 3 play with those. I was the only person permitted to refill them (I told him I had a special magic formula - I add a couple of drops of glycerine to each tiny bottle, it makes the bubbles last longer). I just use cheap dishwashing detergent to refill them.
    Another great idea for bubble play - get a bucket, half-fill it with water then squirt in a generous serve of dishwashing liquid and a capful of glycerin. It takes a while to mix it, but soon you should get lots of bubbles. We use a bubble wand - a big one - which doesn't need to be blown by hand, you wave it around and the wind does the work. We keep the bucket of bubble mix around, let difficult child 3 use it when he wants to. If you want the specific amounts I'll go look up the recipe, it's on the side of our freezer. But this satisfied his bubble craving and cut back on his desperate requests for bubble play (and wasting of shampoo etc).

    Here's hoping this helps.

    Marg
     
  7. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Hi Gramma and welcome. I'm so sorry you have to find yourself here. Step one is to learn that you didn't "do" anything to land in this situation. Not one of us wanted or set out to raise children with issues so difficult and diverse as to bring us to our knees. But we are here.
    What sort of outside help (if any) are you receiving? Are you the girls' legal guardian? How is school going? How is the division of labor going with daughter's family in the mix?
     
  8. ck1

    ck1 New Member

    Ditto what others have said...you didn't "do" anything that would cause this behavior, for whatever reason, this is how they're wired. You've provided a loving home and they just don't know how to appreciate that yet, hopefully someday they will but that's a long long time down the road.

    Their dad, and your daughter who is living there now, are lucky to have parents willing to step in like this. My parents always said, "we're done now, we raised our kids and they all turned out great!". They will help all of us, but that's it, thankfully that's all we need.

    My difficult child used to tell me that he wanted to live with his dad...until I said, "go ahead, I'll pack your bags". I would have been horrified if he really wanted to go, but he didn't, he was just saying it to hurt me. This approach may not be good for her though, I don't know what you've tried, but it did help us.

    Maybe she just needs to know that you really want her there, it sounds like she's been passed back and forth, maybe she feels like she doesn't belong anywhere so she's acting out. I don't know a whole lot about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but it's seems like that diagnosis (along with just being a teenage girl) would make adjustment difficult. I don't know if you're arguing a lot, but a book that helped cut down the fighting with my difficult child was "The ADHD Parenting Handbook: Advice from Parents to Parents". I thought it had a lot of good ideas in it.

    I've educated myself and my husband on the disorders that my difficult child has been diagnosed with. It helps to understand where he's coming from. It hasn't fixed anything, just helps me to understand his point of view sometimes instead of just thinking of him as a PITA, some of it is beyond his control.

    difficult child 3: Gosh, sounds like she's really struggling as well. I know you want to shield them from any further stress (being made fun of) and I totally understand that, but, sometimes natual consequences really help. In this case, the natural consequence can either be wearing the pull ups until she chooses to use the toilet, or being made fun of (because of her smell) until she chooses to use the toilet. If she was potty trained before then I think you just have to wait until she makes the choice to do it again, assuming there are no medical reasons for this, so that needs to be ruled out.

    Have you given her pantyliners to use that can be easily changed if she's having trouble wiping properly? Also, maybe using the wipes that are wet, like baby wipes, would make it a little easier for her. However, you have to be careful with those because they can't be flushed.

    The natuaral consequences to not wiping properly can be pretty brutal and make her quite ill, maybe she would listen if a doctor explained it to her?

    God bless you for taking these kids in. You've gotten great advice on a starting to place to seek more services, the school district should definitely be able to point you in the right direction. You could also look for a mental health association in your area, someone on this board suggested I look up NAMI.org, that was very helpful for me and hopefully could be to you as well, they should know of additional resources in your area and should also have support groups.
     
  9. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    My first thoughts about difficult child#1 were pretty much the same as Stella's and Marguerite's but I want to caution you about the abuse primary caregivers take. We often get the worst of it because we represent the unconditional love they crave. They alternate between taking things out on us because they know we will love them anyway and testing us to make sure we will love them no matter what the do or don't do. difficult child#1 trusts your love as much as she can trust anyone's love. She knows she won't get that from her mother but is trying to get it from her father. She is lying to herself, trying to convince herself that her father's home is better than yours. If she can just convince you she can convince herself and maybe it will be true....... And maybe at least one of her parents will love her.

    I, too, wonder what medications your kids are on, especially difficult child#3. Frequent, uncontrolled urination can be a side effect for some drugs.
     
  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome! You really needed to find us! LOL!

    First things first: when you have difficult children you can NOT take ANYTHING they say personally. It is very difficult to get over some of their hurtful words and actions. It take a long time to let it roll off your back - but you better start learning it quick!

    I am so sad that you have not gotten to do any of the things you enjoy doing. You should be doing those things. It shows children that adults have interests other than them. If they are forced to wait a bit while you finish stirring the pot, it does teach them patience and respect. Granted, it probably takes a difficult child longer to learn it - but it will be something they teach their own kids someday. It is important to have your own interests.

    It is equally, if not more important, for you to get some sort of break from the kids. You must get out and do something for yourself. Go sit at Barnes & Noble with a cup of coffee and read some books. Something to make you smile - while you are anticipating going and when you get back.
     
  11. Gramma

    Gramma New Member

    The girls were on counseling and medications, but we lost our medical - except for GF3 who is on disability. The medications didn't really seem to help so maybe they were the wrong ones. Anyway when we ran out of them the medications stopped. Will get them back into counseling whenever we get medical insurance again.

    I will send difficult child 3 to school in pullups. If nothing else, her deskk chairs should be sanitary!! Funny thing, her regular teacher and Special Education teacher both say the wetting isn't happening in their class that it is the other class. Special Education teacher went on to say that I hadn't taught her how to clean up after herself and that she isn't wetting, she's only dribbling. Dribble?? when her panties are dark yellow? I think not.

    I'll try to ignore difficult child 1 when she says hurtful things.

    Can't complain at the moment about difficult child 2. difficult child 1 spent the night at her other Nana's house. Peace and quite again. But she gave husband an earfull on the drive so he is upset with me and daughter for saying such awful things to her and picking on her!! He forgets there are two sides to every story and he forgets that she is a habitual liar. But she is his favorite.

    Thanks for all the support and advice. Talk to you soon.
     
  12. neednewtechnique

    neednewtechnique New Member

    One very LARGE trait of ODD and some of the other behavior disorders is power of manipulation. I know that she may be his favorite, but if you can get him to look at the information about these disorders, he will see that this is very COMMON that difficult child's will try to pit the adults in their life against one another, and how important it is for everyone to communicate and discuss the things that she is telling each of you about the others. It is difficult sometimes to keep up with all the lies and manipulations, but you and your husband, along with all of the people involved with their lives must promise to have a very open, non-judgmental line of communication in regards to these children. If not, they could do some serious damage.
     
  13. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Dark yellow stains? Some females have a normal, harmless discharge that leaves a [relatively] dark yellow stain in the panties. Has nothing to do with wetting, cleaning oneself properly or sexual activity.
     
  14. AllStressedOut

    AllStressedOut New Member

    We had a bathroom problem as well. Prior to me marrying husband his ex swore there was something physically wrong with my difficult children. So husband took the boys to the doctor, had them checked out, it was nothing physical. When husband and I married I didn't want to get mad at the boys or punish them, if they truly couldn't help it, so I started documenting everything on a calendar. What they were doing when it happened, what class they were in, who they were with, what was the activity, etc. I found out oldest difficult child would have a BM in his pants rather than stop playing a game, stop watching a movie or if it was in PE. Found out later that PE told all the kids "Do NOT ask to go the bathroom in here, you won't be allowed." WHAT?!?!?! So needless to say I put my "big girl panties" on and went up to the school and had a nice long chat with the PE Dept. Don't you EVER tell my kid they can't go to the bathroom! Anyways, after about 6 months of documenting when it happened, I started grounding my kids if they had the problem. The 1st step was they themselves had to take the nasty underwear and clean it out in a clean toilet. Which meant they had to clean the toilet, then wash the undies. They were disgusted by this and rightly should be. But this was the most natural consequence I could think of, to make them responsible for their own nastiness. And since what was in their underwear should have been in the toilet, it was the only place I could come up with to have it cleaned in. I didn't want BM in my sink or bathtub.

    My recommendation is to start documenting when this happens, at school or at home. What teacher, what class, what were they doing and so on. When you do get medical insurance again, have her tested to be sure she is healthy and this isn't physical. It doesn't sound physical, but if you have her tested, you are basically covering your own but*. When/If the tests say physically she is fine, you would have already started the documentation to discover what the problem is. My son had problems transitioning from his main teacher to the art teacher, library, music etc. You'll need to document so you can refer to it later because with so many kids, especially difficult children, its just too difficult to remember.

    I know what you mean about staying at home with difficult children to avoid public opinion. Mine can't behave in public either. I've thought about making t-shirts up that list my kids DXs and have 7 printed, one for each day of the week. Maybe then the hairy eyeball wouldn't happen as often if people could look at my seemingly perfect child and realize just because they don't have physical diformaties(sp?) doesn't mean they're perfect.

    My heart goes out to you Gramma!
     
  15. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    You, my friend, are one heck of a grandma.

    Welcome to the board! Just wanted to offer my support.
     
  16. loricbme

    loricbme New Member

    Gramma-
    I have no advice because I'm still learning but I have said a prayer for you and hope you will find some peace in your life. It is hard. You found a great place for support.

    Lori
     
  17. Gramma

    Gramma New Member

    Today has been fairly nice. difficult child 1 is still with her Nana - she'll be home in a couple hours. One grandson difficult child is down with a bug of some sort. husband on his way to Nana's to get difficult child 1.

    Am stil concerned about difficult child 1. I just can't handle her mightier than thou attitude and the talking back/sassing. I guess I'll get a handle on it sooner or later.

    husband was an only child and doesn't like conflict. Keep quiet, say nothing, look the other way and it goes away. Love him dearly, but some days it is tough to parent as a one parent household.

    difficult child 3 helped cook dinner last night and was quite impressed with herself. Daughter mad her read the containers before she added them to the mix. difficult child 1 acted as if she had invented penicillin!! She reads at 1st/2nd grade level (and by her age should be in 4th). That alone is a miracle in itself I know. Since we have been in "the big house", she has stopped pinching and hitting. That is major. She used to grab a handful of difficult child 2 arm and then twist full circle for no apparent reason. difficult child 2 was left hurting and bruised. difficult child 3 was on medications at the time.

    Add the stress of the difficult children to the never ending paycheck budgeting and my husband and I have about exhausted all our resources for staying sane.
     
  18. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    From what you have posted it sounds like the your difficult children aren't doing any worse off medications than on them. In fact, it sounds like at least one of them is doing better off medications.
     
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    On the behaviour issue, with difficult child 1 - get your hands on "The Explosive Child" as as high priority. If you need a quick preview there is some discussion of this in Early Childhood. You can also Google the book, have a look at Ross Greene's website. Because if you continue as you are now, you won't survive her adolescence. Or she won't survive it!

    And you'll need to get husband to read it too. But if he can't (and some blokes just can't 'get into it' - don't know why, but it's not lack of motivation) then summarise it for him, this will help you really understand the book too.

    You don't have to do everything the book says - but the basic premise is very simple. Don't use discipline techniques that aren't working. Try to understand what is making the kid tick. Don't make threats you can't/won't carry out. Don't ever back down (which means don't put yourself in a position where you have to back down - sometimes it's best to not take on a battle you can't win). And always make sure any battle you pick, you will win. This can mean that a lot of battles don't get picked.

    A common problem when trying to discipline an out-of-control kid, is we try to fix everything at once. "I'm not having that - or that - or that. And I'm certainly not standing for THAT!"
    The end result is a kid trying to learn too many changes in how she must behave. If the child also has impulse control issues, a short fuse or other issues, you could be asking for more than they can give. A kid who is sometimes explosive due to a short fuse or impulse control issues, or easily frustrated, IS going to rage occasionally. I've had to learn to NOT discipline the rages - but don't reward them either. It's like a kettle on the simmer - if you stopper up all the holes including the spout, even a simmering kettle will explode and send scalding water everywhere. But if you allow a safety valve, you can prevent a major accident. A kid rages, perhaps after you've said something like, "Because you didn't eat all your dinner, I'm not letting you have ice cream," and you have to accept that they will rage. As they learn control you can increase your expectations. But that doesn't mean raging is acceptable - we simply say, "Take that anger somewhere else, we can't hear the TV." Or WE leave the room.

    Maybe you choose to stop the rages, but let something else alone for a while. The trick is to only work on SOME behaviours at a time, and everyone must agree as to what is being worked on (and how) and what is being ignored. For now. You WILL get a chance to work on everything, in time.

    The book explains how to do this. It actually is easier to do than what you're currently trying to do. And what I like about it - I get better results in difficult child 3's behaviour overall, using this method.

    The hardest part of it - trying to get all adults involved to be on the same page; and trying to get into the child's head so you get a better 'feel' for what sets them off and what causes the behaviour problems.

    If cost is an issue, try your local library. But seriously, this has helped so many of us. It's not a cure, it's just a different way of looking at the problems and a different way of handing them. Because too often, what we've been doing up until now just isn't getting us the results we need, AND it's just too much hard work.

    A thought in the meantime - how about each adult in the house makes sure to take each child in turn, at some stage during the week, for some one-on-one time. It could be to read a book, go for a walk, play a game or even do craft together. Do something the child enjoys, but make it individual time for that child. Make it clear to the children that you each want to spend time with each child in turn, so they will all get a chance.

    Marg
     
  20. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just popping in to say hello and welcome!
     
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