Chossing battles, setting limits ....

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by dashcat, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I posted awhile back about my difficult child helping herself to small things - items of my clothing, etc. I spoke to her about it very firmly (yes, you may laugh at this point).

    difficult child has never stolen money from me (except to raid my change jar, which is now locked in a small safe). She's never stolen anything like jewelery, any of my camera equipment, anything like that. Her main crime has been (is), helping herself to what she wants .. on impulse. She needs a white camisole? All of hers are smelly and strewn about her bedroom. Mine is freshly laundered and neatly folded. She takes it. It's cold? Her gloves are lost in the abyss of her car. Mine are in the same box I keep in the mudroom. She helps herself. If she were stealing money/valuables, my course of action would have been much clearer .. much longer ago.

    Shortly after she turned 21, I got up one morning to discover that she'd helped to a bottle of wine. I told her she was not to help herself to any alcohol in the house without asking. She is of legal age and she can purchase alcohol and consume it here (unless it gets out of hand, which it has not.). I am happy to provide for her basic needs, feed her, even treat her from time to time (we do, on rare occasions, share a bottle of wine with dinner or a movie), but that she needed to buy what she consumed. The food is hers to enjoy. I buy what she likes (within reason), I cook for us and I am happy to do so.

    I like wine. I do not have an alcohol or substance abuse problem. I buy it by the case (to save 10%), and keep it around for sipping, for company, etc. I have a small built in wine rack in my kitchen where I keep six fairly decent bottles of wine. This is what I use for entertaining, drop in guests, special dinners. I keep the rest (the cheap stuff!) in the pantry. I replenish when I'm out or I get low or there's a sale. I keep the wine rack stocked and replinish right after I use what is there (because it looks funny if it's not full).

    I went out last night with friends. difficult child was having a girlfiend over to make pasta and watch a movie. She has VERY few female friends, but this sort of thing does occur from time to time. I was out of wine (except for the rack) and have not replenished it yet. I went to get a dish (right above the wine rack) and noticed a $20 bottle of wine missing.

    I am baffled as to how her brain works. I can tell her the same thing OVER AND OVER AND OVER, and - when impulse strikes all bets are off. If my mom had told me "you may not help yourself to my clothing, bottles of wine or ANYTHING,I would not have defied her .. certianly I wouldn't have done so at 21!!! OMG.

    I have made the decision not to live - in my own home - under lock and key. I have a small safe, in which I keep some prescriptions medications (pain medications, which I need very rarely, and anxiety .. which I seem to need more often these days), some important papers and my good jewelery). The key is hidden and even the safe is hidden. But that is all I am willing to do. I am NOT going to install locks on the doors in my own home. I see no reason why I should have to live that way.

    So, tomorrow, (when I've simmered down a bit), I am going to calmly tell her something like this:

    You live here for very nominal rent. I sincerely doubt that you will be able to find an apartment at this price that includes a home of this comfort level that his kept clean and stocked with food. In order to live here, you must abide by certain standards. Among them is to respect my property. I have discussed this with you extensively, and I do not intend to discuss it beyond today. Beleive me when I say I know exactly what I have and where it is. The next time you help yourself to something that is mine, you will pack up and leave. I will not live with someone who cannot respect my property.

    Or something like that.

    I am so frustrated with reciting the same script over and over again. It's not just the taking of property ... it's day to day stuff too.

    Thanks for listening. I hate that, among all the scary stuff we have to deal with as far as difficult children go, that we have to deal with such insanely unreasonable petty behavior.

  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I hear your frustration!

    I am wondering, though, about the particluars of this situation?

    Sounds like you have expensive wines to serve to guests. difficult child had a guest for dinner - and chose to serve one of the "guest wines" to her guest. Is that right? Even though she is a difficult child, there is a certain logic to serving the guest wine to a guest...especially since she has no doubt observed her mother serving the guest wine to guest.

    Maybe, in this case, it just makes more sense to make difficult child replace the missing guest wine that she served?
  3. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    i have cooled off a bit since last night. She's at work and, while I am going to confront her, I am working on choosing my words (and, thus choosing my battles .... AGAIN).

    I understand what you are thinking as far as the wine and serving it to a guest. The problem is that she was told she may NOT open the wine - PERIOD. She can purchase it herself and share it here with a friend, but she cannot help herself.

    If she had texted me and said "Hey - we would like to open a bottle of wine - we are out of funds, but I'll replace it." I would have said ok.

    One of the things that has been a challenge with her - from a pretty young age - is that she doesn't seem to understand the concept of "special occasion" or "sometimes". If I allowed her to open the guest wine for one dinner guest, there would be dinner guests opening multiple bottles of wine several nights a week. In fact, one of the reasons I told her that she couldn't open the wine was knowing that she would open and consume every bottle in the house. I've learned to let this go with certain matters (I cannot, for example, stock up on certain food items or pop when they are on sale. It doesn't pay off, because she will consume the entire lot - no matter how much I buy. )

    My biggest frustration comes from her absolute refusal to listen. She is lucky to be living here. She has a great thing going and I honestly want to give her the space and time to work and figure out how to manage her funds, etc. But, what she has to realize is that she cannot simply help herself to other people's things. It's hard for me to grasp that kind of thinking.
  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Ah - gotcha....yes, that DOES make a difference.

    Sometimes, I think our difficult children pick and choose what they want to hear - or sometimes they decide to interpret what we say in a way that makes it optional. It IS infuriating.

    As you probably know, our decision over here has been to tell our difficult child that she must move out this summer - ready or not! This decision was based largely on the fact that *I* cannot take it any more. Mostly, I just grit my teeth and put up with all the day-to-day bs because I know there is an end in sight. But still, the constant disregard for other people's time, effort, money, property, privacy, rest, etc - it just goes on and on and on!...and it is definitely wearing on the nerves.

    I don't know if there IS a way to fix it - or explain it - or demonstrate it....I just think their brains are not wired to think about others. It's all ME, ME, ME, ME, ME!

    Want to hear a funny?

    difficult child knows it will be cheaper to live with a room-mate....and she wants the savings, but not the hassle. She wrote up a "roomate agreement" for potential house-mates that would put Sheldon Cooper's (from Big Bang Theory) to shame! Among the rules - roomates are not allowed to have any guests and must be content with the portion of the apartment that difficult child allots them....which means the room-mate does not even get a whole bedroom to themselves! Yeah...good luck with that. LOL!
  5. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Coincidentally, I have an older brother who is bipolar. Several yrs. ago, when my kids were young, he lived upstairs from us, but came down to our part of the house every day to see the kids and hang out. If I bought something special, particularly for the kids, like ice cream bon bons, or marshmallow peeps, or a food item they particularly enjoyed, he would just open my cabinets/fridge, and commence eating them, knowing full well it was for the kids. I wouldn't get angry, I was just perplexed, like, "I have tons of food in the house, why are you eating something that's a special treat that has "KID" all over it?"

    Plus, he would FINISH in one sitting the box of cookies, etc., like he was perseverating about it. Same thing with soda, which I rarely kept in the house. So I know where you're coming from. I don't know if it's part of the bipolar, I really don't, but my brother was always sweet to us all, and truth be told, I felt kind of sorry for him, I know he just couldn't help himself. He never borrowed anything else from us, so I let it go, but in your case, difficult child routinely helps herself to several different things of yours, so that's beyond annoying. I agree that a phone call or a heads up in advance would've been appreciated, but they just don't THINK like that.
  6. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I am laughing. difficult child had planned to move into a house with three friends this summer: her boyfriend at the time, a girlfriend (no longer in her life, big surprise) and this other guy. She and the girlfriend drafted an agreement .. I never saw it, but I am sure it was hilarious. I don't blame you at all for your stance with your difficult child. I am feeling (obviously) very stressed by my daughter's lack of respect for boundaries ... the constant drama, etc.

    Like your brother, my difficult child is very sweet. It really is hard to stay mad at her. I have always wondered about the connection between food impulses and bipolar. Long before my difficult child displayed any signs of being bipolar, she had marked and very odd food issues. When we took our first road trip to Florida, I stocked up on all sorts of goodies intended for the drive there - and back. My parents used to do this, and it was so much fun to have special treats on the road. She made the trip pretty much a living hell, begging for treats like a starving dog. I can't even describe it. As to your brother and the kids treats ... boy can I relate. I love ice cream, but I can only buy what we are going to eat right then. If I buy it, I dish it out right away .... she will go after anything left in the freezer with a spoon and then I won't touch it. Ditto peanut butter.

    Another food thing that she does that drives me mad is she'll pour herself a bowl of cereal, grab a spoon and wander in when I am working with a customer and chow down in front of them. She's done this when people are here with little kids -it's awful and rude. It used to be that I'd wait until the customer left and I would tell her that she cannot do that ... then I finally started to embarass her in front of them (which makes the customer say "no! no! it's ok!" and makes everyone uncomfortable) and she hasn't done that in a long time. Food is a real issue with her.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Do you all remember the comic strip where the owner is scolding the dog and the dog is hearing "Good blah blah blah dog blah blah blah treats"? I honestly think if we do not have our difficult child's full and complete attention that this is pretty much what they do. They are very selective in their hearing, and often refuse to hear what they do not like unless you make a pont of getting their attention and keeping it.

    When Wiz was about five or six I realized that even if he was looking at me he probably was not listening unless it was about something he liked. I also realized that no matter where in the house he was, if I said chocolate chip cookies or chocolate pudding or whatever, he heard that and came running. So I used it. I would say "chocolate chip cookies" and once I had his attention, I would say whatever I needed him to hear and comprehend. The first six or seven times the chocolate item was given every time, and then I started only giving it once in a while. Not on any regular schedule so that he could ignore 3 chocolate summons and pay attention on the 4th when the treat was given.

    It was one of the most successful things I did to get him to hear me.

    I wonder if something like that would help get her attention and then help her control her impulses even a little bit.

    Just don't say you will do something that you won't.
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I swear it's the bipolar. Onyxx does it too. Whatever she wants, right then, **** the consequences. She and my Mom talked once... She just didn't understand why she couldn't take whatever she wanted! So Mom asked what if someone took her things, just because they wanted them. That, of course, was different.

    Soda pop is kept in my bedroom, because otherwise it is gone within hours. Same with cheese and anything husband and I get for ourselves (an entire box of Triscuits went missing when she visited from Residential Treatment Center (RTC) over New Years 2011-12... Found the box hidden, full of candy wrappers). Chocolate chips.

    Jett gets peanut butter for his lunch sandwiches. Last week I found a bowl with about 4 tablespoons left in it... In the dishwasher. Peanut butter does not come off in the dishwasher. Onyxx knows this - she was trying to hide it when she didn't want to finish it.

    ALL the lunch meat... a QUART of feta cheese, never mind that I might want to USE it in something... Raw spaghetti... Pulled the box out of the cabinet and it spilled everywhere because it was still open. Ice cream? Hahahaha. Frozen salmon filets. Icing tubes to be used for cookies - and she KNOWS it. Straight sugar.

    I worry because Jett is starting with this, too. Sliced cheese, bread, pop, sugar - and not necessarily sandwiches.
  9. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    When I come here and post something like this, I am reminded that I am not alone on a strange planet. There really are other kids who will eat an entire box of crackers (but frozen salmon? that's a new one!). When difficult child was in elementary school, I learned that I had to put a stash of cookies in the freezer after I made them if I wanted to be able to put one or two in her lunchbox during the week. Soon, she was on to that and the freezer stash would disappear. I then began to wrap said cookies in a foil package labled "asparagus". This did the trick until she saw me open it once!

    Susie, your chocolate trick is brilliant. Kind of like dog training for difficult children, right?

    After a good night's sleep and some perspective, I've decided that I'm not going to threaten her with making her leave. Not that it won't come to that ... it might ... but I don't want to back myself into a corner. The big picture includes the fact that she is working, paying rent (though she's late this month), and my goal is to help her to get to the point where she can live independently.

    So the new script goes something like this: (convo to take place on Friday, which is pay day): When you get paid today, I need you to stop and pick up a bottle of wine to replace what you took on Monday. You have been told you are not to open any wine that is mine and I fully expect this will not happen again. I know exactly how much I have and I will notice, immediately, if any is missing. After you replace the wine, you will need to pay the rent. The next rent id due after the first pay period next month. I get paid first from now on.

    And, susie, I do rememember the "blah blah, ginger" comic. It hung on my refrigerator for a long time!

  10. Winnielg

    Winnielg New Member

    This is fascinating- frustratingly so, of course. I just joined this site. My 17 year old bipolar/Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) steal food all the time. Then denies it - aggressively to the point of violence. I cannot keep peanut butter in the house - I do not even try anymore - gone after a day. My husband and I follow a low carb diet and rarely eat processed food - but we keep an occasional Atkins bar in the pantry. He knows they are off limits and sneaks and steals them. He is so not stealthy - never has been - we find the wrappers for a whole box in his room in the garbage can. Or he takes food and sneaks to eat it in the bathroom (???). He has his own cabinet (and has for some time) filled with food he can eat. Unfortuntely he will eat anything not nailed down within a few days and then argue that it took him a week to eat it not a day.

    We see a spectrum disorder guy - and he said that my son has to buy his own groceries (we give him $$) on a Sunday and dole out his portions for the week (we came up with a list for breakfast, lunch and snacks with him - we take care of dinners). This way he knows when HE bought it and cannot argue how fast it took to consume. Of course, now he does not argue - he is just out of stuff by mid week. We always have eggs or other food he does not want to eat as a replacement. His new thing is with his budget instead of buying normal boxes of cereal - he buys the off brand double size one and then is consuming like 10X the amount of cereal in a few days that normal folks might take weeks to eat.

    SO CRAZY! We have SO many other fish to fry, so to speak - with violent menacing behavior - but these food isses are sometimes the start of stuff.
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Well, she does cook the salmon. Usually in the microwave without a cover or in a skillet and then doesn't wash it.

    A few years back, we bought her a case of snack-size Hot Cheetos (50 of the little bags) as a Christmas gift. We won't do that again... She ate them ALL in 3 days. No joke. Puked orange for 2 days. (Hmm, maybe THAT is what happened to her gut - it's AFRAID!)

    Ramen is another biggie in my house. If I buy a 6-pack it is eaten within a day. I buy bananas 16 at a time and... Well, I went to the store Friday, biogma brought 8 more Sunday, and all 24 were gone last night... But I'll buy bananas! Even though I hate them. They're cheap and good for the kids.
  12. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    MY difficult child is like that with food also. It goes back to assoon as he could walk. He would get up in the middle of the night and eat right out of the fridge if he liked something. I'd get up in the morning open the door formilk or someething and find a whole bowl of baked beans gone with a spoon left in it. Ice cream or cookies???? forget it they were gone. Once he ate my daughter's entire box of fund raising candy bars. It cost me 80 bucks not to mention the crazy behavior that I had to deal with due to all the cafeine and sugar he had consumed. He always ate mass quantities at meals and in between too and was always skinny as a rail. He also was one that you could not let use or have something even once because then he would take it whenever he wanted it. I do not miss that part of my life at all. -RM
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Step? Exactly. Ditto - in my house - apples. Some things need limits, though - I have a friend whose son would practically OD on carrots - overload his system with beta-carotine, to the point where it was dangerous.

    Jett, however... well, I'd cut him some slack (some being the key word there).
    He's FOURTEEN. Can you say mega-growth-spurts and a metabolic rate that is through the roof?
    Maybe he really IS just HUNGRY.
  14. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Bananas are fine. Ramen is one step from preservative poison. And as often as he remembers to brush his teeth... Sugar's really a bad thing. on the other hand, he goes through almost 2 gallons of 2% milk a week... So I guess those teeth are strong!
  15. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    OMG. It is getting very weird around here.

    I talked with her about the wine, for what it's worth .. which isn't much. It came up because she violated ANOTHER boundry issue and it made sense to bring it up in that context.

    This issue had to do with her having a "date". I asked where she was going. "We haven't decided". (Hmmmm... I was just leaving - and she knew this - for my regular Toastmasters meeting). One of the things I was very specific about when she moved back was that, if she was choosing to meet guys online, she would have to meet them in a public place and that NOBODY was to come here to pick her up until after a couple of "dates". My reasoning is that, while I certainly wish my 21 year old was not meeting guys on Craigslist or Plenty of Fish, I could do nothing about her choosing to meet people that way. While I fear (the kind of ice-in-your-veins, heartwrenching fear) for her safety, I can do NOTHING about her risky behavior. HOWEVER, I can and will set boundaries when it comes to my home.

    Since we discussed on this thread the fact that difficult children will assume that something done once is ok to do forever, I knew I had to lay down the law about guys coming here.

    When I found out this dude (with whom she is deeply in love, but whose name has never been mentioned in my presence) was picking her up here, I reminded her that I'd told her this was not to happen. Her response? " I wasn't thinking "... followed by a surly "sorry". She then tells me plans have changed ... she will meet him a local restaurant. By then, I'm late for Toastmasters so I just stayed here. THEN she comes into my office, crying. "I got stood up". How can this be? You are still here? "He blew me off". Then drama and blah, blah, blah.

    Hmm... do you think he possibly "blew you off" because he wasn't coming here - while I wasn't home - for a few hours of fun?

    And I haven't even gotten to the part where it gets weird!!!!!!!

    Later still, she comes to me and asks "Do you have a gold chain?" "No, I don't. Why?" She replies, "I have a confession." and produces MY WEDDING RINGS. The same rings I flung at her father in a (perfectly justifiable) fit of rage in 2006. She said "I found them in his dresser and I took them." "Why were you in his dresser?" "I asked if I could borrow a pair of socks." "Why didn't you ask him if you could have them?" "I wasn't thinking."

    This is the SAME NIGHT we had the confrontation about the wine ("I was going to replace it") and the internet dude coming to the house .... and she calmly tells me this, as though it is perfectly ok for her to take whatever the heck she wants and I'm going to give her a gold chain on which to wear MY WEDDING RINGS?????

    I did not take them from her and I don't intend to tell Ossy. I did, however, tell her SHE had to tell him. I would have given the rings to her someday, but that is hardly the point.

    She is CLEARLY not thinking or behaving in a rational way and I am struggling to make sense of what really does not make sense.

    She has an IC appointment tomorrow. I am going to ask her to make an appointment for the two of us to meet with her IC to sort through this.

    I have to feel safe in my own home.
  16. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    "I wasn't thinking."

    Wow, have I heard this one a lot!!! And you are absolutely right to not want random men in your home. Sheeeeesh.
  17. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not



    I think the problem you are having is that you are trying to make rational sense of what your daughter is telling you. She is LYING to you. It does NOT make sense...and it's not going to ever make sense because it is a LIE. You need to stop listening and follow your own common sense.

    {And why am I sounding so harsh this morning? Because I just received this exact same speech from my husband after I recounted for him a few of the tales difficult child has been sharing with me. I am trying to make sense of it - solve it - come to an understanding....and husband is exasperated with me because I still seem to get caught up in the lies without realizing it. He told me that difficult child is going to continue to do whatever the h*ll she wants to do - just as she always has - and I need to either learn to close my eyes to it....or ask her to move out immediately instead of waiting until the summer.}

    I think you are right to try and protect yourself from these internet booty calls - I don't want that in my house either....especially knowing that difficult child and this strange man will likely have no qualms about hleping themselves to any of your valuables.
  18. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    You don't sound harsh at all. I know that I can't make sense out of her wacky "reasoning". The very fact that she would so calmly produce my wedding rings on the tail of several confrontations about boundaries is proof that she is operating on completely different playing field. I'm just plain astonished by the whole series of events.

    I know what I would tell a friend who was dealing with this. I just don't know if I can do it myself. Dealing with the annoyance of her breaking into the wine or taking my leggings is one thing. Worrying about leaving my house is something else entirely.
  19. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Dash, I was reading your post and recalling last year when my difficult child was living in a huge green tent outside our living-room patio, you may remember the absurdity of that and how my granddaughter had trouble trying to explain to her friends why her mother was living with 4 cats in a tent in our yard. Sigh. Anyway, with each bizarre behavior pattern we kept setting more and more limits, we actually took away the keys to the house because her "friends" were lurking around...... and these were people I would call the police on if I saw them in the neighborhood. .......we didn't feel safe and made it very, very clear that her friends were NOT to be around our home..........the very next day after the talk, I saw a bike parked by the fence in the front yard. When I asked my difficult child about it questioning whose bike it was, her response was "one of my friends, he just came over to rub my back because I hurt my back." She was not able or willing to make the connection between what we said, our concerns, our requests and her actions. Shortly thereafter, she left our home stating that we just had too many restrictions on her behavior to be able to live with us. I don't know about your difficult child, but mine experiences everyday normal conditions and courtesy as authority that she must rail against and not obey.

    When your home is concerned and these miscreants are allowed entry, you are no longer safe and your difficult child does not have the inherent social wisdom to make choices which will keep your environment safe. If you aren't there already, you appear to be heading towards either requesting her departure or really battening down the hatches in your home. I'm sorry, I really know how you feel.
  20. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    You nailed it.