What Do I Do? Need Help Now!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by WSM, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. WSM

    WSM New Member


    This morning difficult child's driver didn't come at 5:40 like usual. difficult child sits on the bench infront of the house waiting. Usually I leave at 6:10. This morning difficult child was still sitting there at 6:10. At 6:35 I looked out the window and he was gone and I assumed the driver picked him up but was a little perplexed because I didn't hear the van door slam. We live in a warm state and the windows were open.

    I went to work. It turns out difficult child didn't get picked up. He hid behind the neighbors truck until I left. Then about a half hour later told his dad he hadn't been picked up and could dad take him to school. Dad called the school and found out it was a half day, the driver had been there a half hour before usual, waited 10 minutes and left. (????!!!!). We didn't know it was a half day. They said they couldn't guarantee him a ride home.

    Husband has an important meeting. So he called me and I came home from work to stay with difficult child. difficult child said he hid behind the truck because he thought he wasn't going to get to go to school today and didn't want to stay home with me. (No, I don't beat him or even yell at him, I just have him sit at a table writing sentences).

    Well, I got home and did speak meanly to him. I said: "You thought you were so tricky. But you only screwed yourself over; if you'd followed instructions and stayed on the bench, I would have taken you to school. But now because you were sneaky, you get what you don't want and get to stay home with me."

    And I had him do a 15 minute lean and rest position. (That's where you get in position to do push ups, but just stay still).

    difficult child did about 5 minutes of lean and rest and then ran out the front door.

    What do I do? I tried calling husband, but he's in a meeting and they won't interrupt even though I said it's about his son and might involve the police. Do I call the police? Do I just do nothing?

    What do I do?
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I would wait a few minutes to see if he "cools off" and returns on his own....but after a bit, I would absolutely call the police and neighbors and anyone who could help look for him.


  3. WSM

    WSM New Member

    I don't want to call the police. I have a security clearance and have to report any police contact. And next Wednesday I'm up for a promotion and a career board. I've had to report police contact with him twice in the last year and don't want to again.

    Also this is a safe place, he's probably gone to the park to hide in the crawling tubes. He's probably fine. But what if he's lost it and needs to be picked up and hospitalized? (he's never been hospitalized before, and altho he's had a couple incidents of head banging and once pulling hair out of his arm--he's always been lucid).

    He's run away before, but always snuck out in the middle of the night or after school back when he was alone. He'd go to the park and just sit and wait for someone to find him. He wasn't really running away, just being a drama queen.

    Do I just let it be, figure he'll come back when he comes back? Do I wait for my husband to get out of his meeting? Do I call the police?

    Another problem is difficult child LOVES to claim abuse. He's likely to excuse his running off on being abused. It's sort of worked in the past, not really, but gets everyone stirred up for a while. He once persuaded a neighbor a couple streets over and they kept him and refused to let him come home even after talking to us, even after we recommended they take him to the police station. We had to be the ones to call the police to extricate him from their car.

    I just don't know what to do. :whiteflag:
  4. WSM

    WSM New Member

    husband called. He said do nothing and see if difficult child comes home within an hour or two of husband coming home. He said, if he's not home by 6 or 7, we'll call the police then.

    He's upset and is going to come home for an early and long lunch and look around for him.

    I'm upset. He's upset. It's not fair.

    I'm mad at the school too. Why can't they get their act together. They are a fricking MILITARY SCHOOL for kids with behavioral problems, but they are so disorganized and can't ever get their act together. They pick him up whenever in the morning, and on one occasion never picked him up at all; they have random days off and don't tell anyone or suddenly let kids out early in the afternoon; they lied to help cover him stealing $20 of transportation money; they don't make him wear a uniform or get his agenda signed; he can or not do his homework as he sees fit; and they are always advocating that he get privileges. They claim they have therapy but don't.

    The driver said he came by at 5:10 and waited 10 minutes and left. Well, he usually comes at 5:40, and sometimes at 6:10 (yesterday). He said he knocked on the door--but no one answered. This is a lie. My 19 year old was sleeping on the living room couch. They have our phone number and could have called. We have a doorbell too.

    THe school said "oh, it's a half day (this was news to us), so we told the drivers not to be late". They seem to think this explains what happened. But it doesn't explain why no one told us it was a half day, or that the driver was coming a half hour early, or why he left without talking to anyone at the house or even trying too.

    Why can't we get any cooperation re him? I just want to cry and cry.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2009
  5. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know you don't want to involve the police because of your career issues, but if this is a repeating pattern, at some point difficult child has to be held accountable for his actions. You're right, it's not fair. In a way, difficult child is calling the shots here.. and in a sense keeping you "hostage" for the day while you wait for him to come home.

    What consequence does he get when he does run away? I would at least begin thinking about how to deal with the aftermath when he does come home.

    I'm sorry. I know it's frustrating.
  6. WSM

    WSM New Member

    husband called again. Wants to know if I'm okay, urges me to remain calm and if the police show up have them call husband. He reminds me that if difficult child does get involved with the police and concocts abuse stories, nobody believed it before and 'this is going to keep happening, but everytime he loses more and more credibility'.

    husband is upset because I told the receptionist that I might have to call the police and half his work is wondering what's going on. Today is a really bad day at his work; people are going to be laid off between 10 and perhaps 40%. He said he's not angry with me but now he has to look like he's going to 'do something' and it's embarassing for him.

    I'm so sorry.

    I think there's a small chance that difficult child is in the shed, I hear a thump come from there once in a while, but it might just be the metal expanding in the sun too; it's going to be in the low 80's. I don't want to look; if he's there that's good, not a bad place to be.

    I feel so bad.
  7. gottaloveem

    gottaloveem Active Member

    Please don't take this wrong, I mean not to sound judgmental, but 15 minutes in a lean and rest position? I'm sure I could never do that, I would probably run out the door too.

    I am sorry that your stepsons behavior might influence your position and chance for advancement, but maybe there may be a time in the future for that, sounds like now your boy needs you more than your job.

    I know this may sound harsh, my intention is just to give you a different perspective.

    Sorry you are struggling, I do know all to well the heartache that goes along with the struggle.
  8. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    I was thinking the same thing as gottaloveem. I didn't want to say so as I do not want to hurt your feelings or insult you in any way! But I was also thinking that physical exercise was a bit over the top as a punishment. I just don't see how that punishment fits the crime, so to speak. I know firsthand what it feels like to be at your wits end as most of us do. And we know the sacrifices that we have had to make for our difficult children. It is very hard. Your stuck between a rock and a hard place. You don't want to get the police involved as you don't want to jepordize your career, at the same time your struggling with how to help your child. I get it, believe me I do. I am also in agreement with gottaloveem with regards to maybe putting your career on hold a bit to tend to the needs of your son.

    Please don't take offense to this. I do not want to come off as being too harsh but I had to be honest.

    You are in my thoughts. :)
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Take a deep breath. Your husband and you have decided to wait it out for a bit. So, go about your normal routine. Do some laundry or take a long hot bath. Chances are great he will come back on his own. Just needed time to himself. When he comes back, ask him why he ran out. If he gets defensive, ask him if it was because he needed time alone. If he says yes, discuss some better possibilities for that. Perhaps hanging in his room or the basement. Together find a calming place for him to go.

    You must relax. Your anxiety will only cause you to get angry later as you will resent that he caused you to be so stressed out.
  10. WSM

    WSM New Member

    They do much, much longer at military school and it's easier than 100 push ups. I used to do it when I was in the military. And it's one of the punishments that CPS is all right with. We only have a couple: that, push ups, writing sentences/essays, and extra chores. The school will also have him carry a milk carton filled with rocks for hours. Extra chores has the problem of it gives him opportunities to steal things or throw things away (washing the car, throw away his shoes, etc.). Also he sabotages the chores (run the dishwasher, don't use soap, or put away food encrusted dishes and pretend you don't know how that happened--or were just making room in the dishwasher).

    Believe it or not, CPS has said he could be spanked, but we don't do that.

    We haven't quite gotten to the strip his room bare, not even a pillow stage, but because he's destroyed two mattresses, he doesn't have one. And we can't take away his toys and books because he beat us to it; he's thrown them all away or purposefully broken them.

    I know it's easy to feel sorry for him, but our house is hell for ALL of us: not just him, and not just the rest of us.

    husband came home at lunch, subdued. Drove around and looked for him a bit. Went to the park, he's not there. Went back to work, told me to keep calm, try not to panic.

    No, I cannot put my career on hold, I already put it on hold for 15 years; just went back to work 2 years ago; we have 4 other kids; two are going to college this summer; both my husband and I got wiped out in our former divorces, no savings, no equity, bills. We have no retirement, our house is break even, we live paycheck to paycheck. We paid $12,000 to the dentist, orthodonist and eye doctor this year out of our pocket. We have day care and summer care, difficult child's schooling and transportation, counselling, etc. Neither of us gets child support.

    Actually instead of being more involved with difficult child, being a stepmother, I'm becoming less and less involved. After today, I am going to tell husband that I will no longer be responsible for difficult child on my own, except for spring break which is in two weeks and we have no other place to put him (however, I will have the other kids around). Then I'm done, he's going to have to find other daycare, schoolbreak, sick care for him. He will. He will understand. But it will be hard. I work for the government and get 10 hours leave every 2 weeks; husband works for a company that is laying off and laying off and gets 2 weeks a year leave. But husband will figure something out; I can't do this anymore. difficult child is becoming more and more difficult, not just with me, but with husband too. Mostly he targets husband.

    I see myself in gwenny's place in 3 years, with a stepson who is disturbed and acting out. I do have a husband who will step up to the plate, but we do not have any kind of medical or community support. In the back of my mind I know there's a possibility it's going to be too much and I will leave--at least for a few years until difficult child is out of the house; then maybe husband and I can be together again. I don't know, it's so hard to get through the week (and I've learned to dread weekends), that I can't think three years ahead.

    Why is there just not safe, therapeutic care for these children? It's like society just throws you under the bus because you have a child like this and then blames you for tripping.

    I don't mean to sound whiny, but this has turned out to be a very hard day and it's going to be a rotten weekend--no matter how this turns out.

    Once we get him back, what do we do with him? Or rather, what does husband do with him? He doesn't know, and I just want to crawl under the covers and hide.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2009
  11. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    While military schools and the military in general may dole out that type of punishment, and it may work well for people in that environment, they're not dealing with mentally ill children and adults (in general). Becuase it works for them, doesn't mean it's necessarily appropriate for your difficult child. in my opinion, the disorders listed on your profile would make it very difficult for him to comply with a physical type of punishment, it's more likely to just set him off and make things worse (as seems to have happened). This isn't feeling sorry for him, it's a matter of having to tailor the punishment to fit the individual child, especially when that child has some pretty severe psychological disturbances going on. I can't begin to tell you what might work, but if this isn't working, maybe it's time to re-think things.

    It's so hard when one person's (or child's) behavior turns the entire family upside down, I know. It's even harder when it affects your own personal life and career. I lost one job ebcause of my difficult children, and many relationships. We have to re-shape our own thinking about what works and what doesn't... and it's very easy to fall into the "well, my parents did that and it worked for me" or, "my other children had the same punishment and it worked for them." We have to take a step back and realize this isn't about us, it's about the child.. the individual child's needs.

    As the others, I'm hoping this doesn't come across as unsupportive.. because beleive me, I feel your frustration, been there. Just trying to offer another perspective.

    I hope he comes home soon!
  12. WSM

    WSM New Member

    It's all right, I know you are all trying to be supportive. I don't think it was the lean and rest, he's done it before; and he isn't much punished because we just don't know what to do; nothing works and most of the time he gets yelled at by husband a bit and told, "We know you did it, it's a terrible thing to do, all you've accomplished is to make things unhappier for everyone." and then it's more or less just walk away. Truthfully, he gets a consequence for about half of what he does, and he does some pretty malicious stuff. It used to be every time but he's so therapy and consequence resistent, we've truthfully have sort of given up. The punishments I've listed in the last post are more or less token punishments, that have the value of having an immediate consequence and being over with quickly. He's never balked at them before.

    Maybe it's not optimal, but in four years nothing, nothing, nothing has worked and we've tried every system.

    I think he left, not because of the punishment, but because I was the only one here and he could leave with impunity. With five other people in the house and weird school schedules, difficult child and I are almost never alone together. In fact, he's almost always got five adult-sized people around him at all times, plus the friends the older kids bring around. Lots of people, lots of witnesses--him and me being alone is actually very, very rare. If he'd run off at almost any other time, one of the older kids easily would have run after him and brought him back.

    I don't know. I just don't know.
  13. gottaloveem

    gottaloveem Active Member

    Please don't second guess yourself, we all are doing the best we can, raising children is tough enough, raising a difficult child, is another ballgame.

    And as far as being whiny, don't worry about that, I think most of us here have been through enough to have earned our whiny sessions.

    I feel for you. I hope you find your son soon.

  14. WSM

    WSM New Member

    Found him.

    He WAS in the shed. My desk is next to a sliding glass door that's currently opened. And right on the other side is a metal shed.

    I've been hearing an occasional bang, but thought it might be the neighbors, might be the metal warming up, might be a lizard, whatever. I looked in twice and husband looked in once.

    A minute ago I heard a huge bang. I let the dog out, she ran over to the shed, saw him, and started wagging her tail in greeting. I walked over there saying, "Did you find difficult child, what's in there." By the time I got over there he'd re-hidden himself. Suddenly the shed door, which slides, is half shut. It wasn't half shut when I looked, wasn't half shut when husband looked, and explains the sound I just heard. I peered in a bit and saw his hand, which is very very dirty.

    So I said, "I thought I heard something but guess not. I was hoping it was difficult child, but no way could he fit in here. Hope he comes home soon."

    Then I went out to the front of the house to call husband. He says leave him in there. Let's see how long it takes before he decides to come out. He wants to be in there, let him.

    But husband did ask that I give him a glass of water, just put it in without letting him know we know he's in there. So I filled a plastic cup, went out, said, "I can't chase you puppy, with this water in my hand. Here let me put it down." So I put it inside the shed, chased the dog, and then before I went back in the house said loudly outside the shed, "I hope difficult child comes home soon."

    So that's where we stand.

    Don't know if that's the right way to handle it, but...

    I'm so relieved. It's horrible not knowing where your kid is.
  15. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    There's not necessarily a right or wrong way here, so don't worry about that. I think you did great (although personally I would have let him go thirsty .. lol).

    I'm glad he's safe and sound.
  16. WSM

    WSM New Member

    He's still in the shed. It's been 8 hours. I put a piece of pizza in. He ate it when I left. So he knows we know where he is. Nobody's said anything to him. His dad said he can stay in the shed all night if he wants. I think he might have fallen asleep in there. I haven't heard any bumping around for a while.

  17. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    I am so sorry! I'm glad you know where he is and that he is safe. I love the way you approached the shed each time you went! Don't beat yourself up over this. You are doing great. The best you can. We all struggle with raising our difficult children. It ain't easy. Nothing ever seemed to work with my daughter either. No matter what we did we got the same result. It is very frustrating.

    Hang in there. :)
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Apart from possibly the exercise thing (I'm with the others, although I do hear you on this one) I think you're doing everything right. You're relying on your gut instincts and so far they're on the money.

    I also hear you on not wanting to call the police. From what you're saying, I think calling the police would have been a mistake, given that he's hiding in the shed all this itme and it would have been not only hugely ebarrassing for all of you, it would have given him a huge drama payoff. He probably would have trotted out another abuse story to cover the embarrassment and justify his over-reaction, and then you would have had a lot more fuss (and the police more paperwork, even if they don't beleive him) and frankly, not worth the problems.

    That's not to say that you shouldn't call the police in this sort of situation; it's just a matter of making the right call at the right time. You're the one on the spot here, you made the decision.

    For future reference - leave the physical punishment to the school. I think you need to put in place LOGICAL consequence-based punishment (if any punishment). For example, while he's hiding in the shed, don't give him food or water, unless you think his stubbornness really will go so far as to have him seriously suffer dehydration and/or starvation, rather thancome out. Because what you're doing, sounds a lot like what Japanese mothers of hikikomori children do, in 'enabling' their (usually) sons. These kids will choose to isolate themselves from the world, opting out of life and shutting themselves away, but it's not something that can be done without some degree of enabling. But in their society, it is extremely shameful to admit to having a kid with a problem like this; plus the pressure these kdis are under to do not only well but brilliantly, means that some kids just snap under the pressure, and some familes enable the dysfunction, so it can go on and actually be magnified, over years.

    Hiding out in the shed like this, sounds to me similar to a hikikomori hiding in his room. He originally went in there for a brief moment, for a short break from pressure he was feeling, and suddenly it becomes just too difficult to come back out again. But hey! I don't have to come out, here is food, here is drink, I can stay longer if I need to.
    On the one hand, tis should ease his anxiety and maybe make it easier for him to finally realise, "They know where I am so this isno longer a hiding place. This is getting faintly ridiculous, I should come out now," but on the other hand, he has no impetus to come out because when he eventually does, there will not only be punishment but there will be discussion over the incident and he will have to face what he has done. And he can't do that very easily. So he waits.

    The problem here, the sticking point, is something in his head that can't cope with decisions well, and can't cope with choices and having to face responsibility. Especially this last one. And his current placement is again enabling this, by not making him take personal responsibility for things he has done wrong. Part of learning to take personal resonibility is NOT simply punishing him whwn he does something he shouldn't, because if the punishment isn't connected to what he did wrong, then he isn't really seeing it as his fault in any way, it's other people doing things to him. He needs to learn the connection between what he does, and what happens next.

    How to give him that connection?

    Step 1 - while he's hiding, he will be hungry, thirsty and perhaps cold, unless he planned ahead and stashed supplies in there. If he stashed supplies, then over time he will use up those supplies and will need to come out. Again, duration of stay = supplies dwindling. HE will be consuming them, HE will have to ration them or plan in some way.
    But only if you are sure he has the capacity to do this.

    Step 2 - when he has to be home from school for ANY reason, give him schoolwork appropriate to his educational needs. Writing out lines seems too much like punishment. And even if in YOUR mind, it should be punishment - you should never make anything to do with education, a punishment. Similarly, physical exertion shouldn't be used as punishment if you want thatperson to grow up to enjoy a physically active life. The fastest way to teach someone that physical effort is bnasty, is to use it as punishment. "I am making you do this, therefore this must be something unpleasant," where in fact a lot of people enjoy physical activity, as it should be.
    Instead, if he is home from school then the first work you get him to do, is any outstanding homework. Then you get work from the school (if you have had time to do this) and give him that to do. Third comes any old workbooks you happen to have lying around, such as revision notes or similar, which you can either get from last year's students at a discount or pick up at cheap book sales when the opportunity arises. Last comes any computer-assisted learning packages (and there are some really good, inexpensive ones). TV DVD documentaries or movies you feel would be beneficial. Opera. Shakespeare. But the aim of the game is LEARNING, and it shouldn't necessarily be unpleasant or difficult. But being home during school hours should ALWAYS mean, schoolwork only is on the agenda. Learning. Education. And again, it needs to be as enjoyable as possible, because the child MUST learn to always seek the opportunity to self-educate. That is the lesson for life - every day, we must learn something new. We must learn to seek it out, not try to avoid it.

    The ultimate aim is for him to learn to drive himself. And while his current aim is to try to drive YOU guys up the wall, he is missing the point.

    he has a capacity for great stubbornness. If he ever learns to turn that onto himself, to drive himself to do the right thing, he will be capable of amazing things. But you can't drive him to do things, he is too good at opposing you. You need him to learn to do this for himself, and the starting point is to help him learn to enjoy it.

    YOu do this by allowing him to tell you when he is finding something difficult, challenging or boring. Siply having him recognise this enough to admit it, is a huge start. Having him see you try to find ways to help him NOT be bored, afraid of the work or struggling, is the next huge leap forward. Having him then discover that with the change you've helped him make, that it suddenly IS easier, more interesting, etc - is the next great lesson. These need to ahppen over and over and for him it may take a while and his obstinacy is a current big barrier.

    While it's currently more pleasant for him to hide in ashed, than to stay with you - he will go hide in the shed. If you can make it more interesting for him to stay with you, then that is what he will do. But he MUST learn to face his responsibilities, and with the school undermining you here, I really don't know what you can do. All you can deal with, is your own space. The school has to wear their own consdequences with him.

    Good luck. He's a handful, alright. But you clearly are capable of rasing good kids, you have success with others. So it's not you. Hold that thought.

  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Just another quick thought - I have great difficulty getting difficult child 3 to watch movies or anything with a story-line, because of his extreme anxiety over conflict (necessary to any story-line) and also to anything unknown. So I not only choose carefully, I bribe him to do it. I bribe with appropriate connecting positive things, such as offering to make a large batch of popcorn for us to eat while we watch the movie, and also promising to play a computer game with him afterwards, if he watches the movie with me. I let him negotiate terms, but I win, if I get him to watch the movie. I know once he has seen it he will want to watch it again and again, and there will now be another movie in his repertoire. So I'm easily pleased and will happily offer to play computer games with him (Mario Party, usually) as a reward.

    I'm getting really good at Mario Party!

  20. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    You've had a very ugly day WSM. I can offer you my empathy as I have attachment disordered twins. It's a very ugly disorder that is often combined with other disorders (mostly PTSD).

    Saying that, all of your difficult children actions sound so very familiar. The running, the lack of impulse control, the defiance, the lack of understanding cause & effect, rewards don't work, neither do consequences, the looking for attention in any way possible yet once that attention is found it's not enough. The cries of abuse that didn't happen. Attachment disordered children raise the bar again & again. And sadly they have no clue why.

    I can offer you many different ways to nurture your difficult child in ways that won't scare him. However, it seems you're in crisis mode; the entire family is in crisis mode. Rather than military school is there a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) setting that will take your difficult child in for treatment? Do you & husband get any type of respite at all? Believe it or not, with the right therapy things can get better. However, it sounds as though difficult child has burnt every bridge he has in your home & that's why I'm suggesting a Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

    Sending many postive thoughts for you & yours this morning.