‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Knock On Wood

Yesterday was a mixed bag, but, on the whole, pretty good. We visited my work to see my students perform. Dasha was reserved, but well-behaved. She was completely engrossed in the performance once it started. This took us all the way until 3:45 and I was thanking God for the reprieve.

Then we got home.

Not really sure what triggered her, but on the surface it was about not getting to open a box that had arrived for me. (I knew the contents were something for her to take on the plane with her.) She went from sweet little girl to the incredible hulk in zero point two seconds. I ushered her into her room (still empty) to keep her from breaking things. She managed to grab my jewelry box on the way out and dump all its contents on the floor. (What is it with jewelry boxes?)

Once in her room she headed straight for the blinds, which she has been trying to destroy for days now. I lifted her away from them and got the worst pinch a child has EVER given me.

I do know therapeutic holds from my drama therapy work with severely traumatized kids, but I would not use them without permission from NHFC. I tried my best to keep myself and Dasha safe, but she was like the Tasmanian devil at this point - thrashing herself against the bed, hitting me, trying to bite me. I finally just held her loosely on my lap with my arms over hers. I explained I was trying to keep her safe. She broke free. I was not comfortable holding her in place, so I did my best with running around the room like a goalie protecting a net. She found my shoes,which I had taken off, and whipped one at my head. She then tried to bang her own head on the bed post. I held her again and tried to put her in an infant cradling pose, hoping she might just relax into it and cry. Didn't work. She hauled off and bit me really hard. I howled. It really, really hurt.

At this point Nastia came in. (My mom was in the other room with her.) Dasha started telling us that she was going to find a knife in the kitchen and stab us all in the heart. Then it was in the face. I told her that I would not let her hurt us or herself, because you protect the people you love. She said "I am going to stab myself and die!" I told her I would not let that happen. I kept reminding her that we loved her and wanted to help her, and that my love will never go away. " Yes it will! I will MAKE it go away!!!!" She screamed. "I will run away from the detsky dom and be homeless. I will kill myself!"

At this point there was so much rage and anger in her face I was worried. I started wondering, in the midst of this episode, if she might have some psychological issues besides just PTSD. I admit, I was a little scared. Hearing someone wants to stab you with a kitchen knife, even if they are only 3 and 1/2  ft tall and 45 pounds, is scary. I had Nastia stay with her while I went to call the director of the program.

When I came back upstairs, Dasha was 'herself' again. Yes, that fast. I walked into the room and she said "Mama, play with me." I told her that I couldn't play, because I was hurt and I was sad. She just ignored me and turned to Nastia to play. I told her no playing right now. I asked Nastia to leave the room. She started to rage again, but then discarded the attempt and just sat on the bed ripping the seams out of the mattress with her fingernails. Nastia and my mom left so that Nastia could catch a break. She needed it. I stayed and watched Dasha attempt to destroy the mattress one seam at a time.

You might think I should have stopped this behavior, but I knew she was trying to press buttons and so I ignored it and sat nearby on the floor. I told her I was very sad about her hurting me and trying to hurt herself but that I loved her and would love her no matter what bad things she said or tried to do to us. That made her really angry. She yelled and tried to break the bed posts, but she is not strong enough. I could see her starting to give up. She made a few last attempts to break part of the bed, and then she burst into tears and crawled in my lap.

"I'm sorry, Mama! I'm sorry I'm bad! I'm sorry I hurt you."  she cried.

And I just held her like a baby and rocked her. I stayed there holding her for nearly 45 minutes. Eventually she started humming the Cinderella song, and later, smiled. "I love you, Mama." She said this in English. "I love you, too." I said.

I was supposed to return to see the final cast perform at 6pm, but it was not to be. Dasha did not want to leave her room, and I knew it would be disastrous if I tried. We stayed home. I  cooked dinner. We then played "family" for two hours. I was first the grandmother, later the husband, sometimes a friend, her baby's doctor, etc. She acted out her life from birth to marriage and having children. She play-acted going to school in America.

"Pretend you adopted me and now this is my home and I am coming home from school!" she said excitedly. She got on her backpack and acted out leaving me and kissing me goodbye, and then returning at the end of a long school day. It was very sweet.

At night she regressed. (I expected it.) " Mama, I'm a baby now," she said "I need my bottle," And so I dressed her for bed, cuddled her up in my arms, and fed her a 'bottle'(sippy-cup). After an hour, she fell asleep.

Today has been great thus far. She woke up happy and regulated. We played in the morning, and then headed to the local famer's market, where she asked to buy some wildflowers for Nastia. We came home with bags of goodies, and Dasha slipped into my room and woke Nastia to a handful of gerber daisies, lavender and what-not. I can hear them giggling as I type this.


  1. Anonymous10:24 PM

    12 hours later, I really hope the rest of the day was peaceful. Jo Ann

  2. What did the folks at NHFC have to say about this? My oldest biological child went through this for several years and only when we put her on meds to treat her ADHD did these behaviors go away. In fact she took a large meat thermometer and threatened her younger sister. She has RAD-like symptoms too, which doesn't make much sense for a biological child that wasn't tramatized (that I know of or that our Christian psychiatrist and thearpist has been able to figure out). For some people being loved is just too painful.


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