On March 31st I gave The Girl a proposal. Well, not so much of a proposal as an ultimatum. See, she’d spent most of March in an intensive outpatient program working on RAD and Depression symptoms, but when she came home to the normal daily routine, she wasn’t out of her rut. The negative, self-deprecating behavior and talk continued. So I came up with the proposal. For 30 days she would agree to do three things, every day:
- Take her meds every day
- She would agree to get up before school every day and let me help her do all of the hygiene and grooming steps she thinks girls who feel pretty and good about themselves do
- Do both things even though she things they are stupid and/or won’t make her feel better
She fought it. She sat on her bed and told me it wasn’t going to help, she was just going to be unhappy for the rest of her life, and she didn’t want my help and this was just some scheme to MAKE her take help from me. I stood my ground. I told her I didn’t care if she didn’t want to do it. I didn’t care if she was mad at me. She was going to do it for 30 days, like it or not. I even pulled a play out of my mom’s old playbook and told her that in my house she’d do what I ask, period, or there would be consequences. She turned up her nose, whined some more, and, the next morning, she got up and whined through my standing over her while she brushed her teeth and I combed and styled her hair. She whined and complained every morning the first week of April. It was torture. Her school bus comes at 6:30 in the morning, so to get through the complaining and get her ready for school meant we were up trying to be civil to each other at 5:30. My husband Tom was placing bets on whether I’d be able to stick it out an entire month.
On April 10 I ran late, and dragged my butt out of bed at 6 AM. It had been rough going so far and I was not looking forward to having to rush The Girl through everything I was sure she hadn’t done because I wasn’t breathing down her neck. I was halfway down the hall when she stuck her head out of her room and said, “Mom, I’m not sure what to wear with this shirt. Can you help me decide?” I stood paralyzed, still halfway down the hall, wondering if I was awake or still asleep and dreaming. Tom nearly fell out of bed.
She asked for help. Unprompted.
The rest of April was practically a dream. We played with different hairdos in the bathroom mirror before school each day. She asked about different eye shadows and squealed with delight at the realization that mascara comes in lots of fun colors. She asked for a purse for her birthday. More importantly, she tells me about her day, every day. She’s eating. There’s no drama. Last weekend I seriously considered checking her room for a pod. The Girl turns 17 in May. 30 days ago, I was convinced we’d never be able to get through to her and make her realize that having a family is a good thing before she turned 18. It’s only been a month, but I’m feeling a lot more hopeful that we’ve finally found the magic combination to help her learn to attach. Wish us luck.