Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Life in this house

Living with a 12-year-old child who's not only bipolar (moody, belligerent, angry, reluctant to try) and has major attention-deficit disorder, but who also is pretty significantly learning-disabled (reading at 3-4 years behind grade level even though she was taught to read at age five) can be extremely frustrating.

She wants things to happen, but does not have the innate ability to reason and think things through logically. Therefore she complains, arranges circumstances, then expects me or Dad or someone else to pick up the pieces and make it happen.

A small example... she wanted to bake a cake using a cake mix. But when she brought the box to me, what she really meant was that she wanted me to bake the cake. Well, she's twelve and perfectly capable of doing all the things necessary to complete this task, including reading the simple instructions. So I told her she was welcome to read the instructions and bake the cake herself. If she had questions, she could bring the box to me and ask, and I'd be glad to help.

Six months ago she would've blown her stack in a rage. Now she whines and complains, but goes ahead and tries. "What kind of pan do I use?" she sighs dramatically. "This is too hard."

Contemptuous, put-upon sighs emanate from the kitchen. "The box doesn't say how to stir it," she insists. "I don't know how to stir."

Right. In the years of living with her, I have learned that ignoring her rather than giving in and making suggestions is much more fruitful. So I keep my mouth shut. Dad, on the other hand, just can't seem to grasp this concept. He's trying to leave for work, but goes into the kitchen blithely and begins to stir it for her.

"Rick," I began. "She is twelve years old. She knows how to stir."

He looks at me blankly. "Oh, I guess that's probably true." He puts the whisk down and gathers up his work things.

"Daaaa-aaaad," she whines. "I need help."

This time, he remembers that he needs to leave for work, and he tells her he's sorry but that he has to go. She pouts momentarily, but finally gets busy.

Eventually she falls into productivity, asking reasonable (non-huffy) questions and receiving calm, reasonably answers from me, just as I had explained it to her in the beginning.

Everything we do has to run through this process of eliminating the whine-factor. I wish we could get rid of that step, but it seems to be non-optional.

Now it's in the oven, and I'm sincerely hoping she sticks around downstairs and remembers to wait on the timer to beep before beginning some other project that would cause her to forget the oven. I just looked around... sure enough, she's gone upstairs. She just doesn't learn well; we did this very same thing the other night with the cookies. Puts 'em in and leaves. If I hadn't been in the other room, they'd've burnt.

I called her downstairs and she returns in high dudgeon. "It's half an hour!" she moans. Nevermind that she has absolutely no concept of the passing of time. She's furious, stomping around the kitchen angrily.

Oh well. Like I said, this is what life in our house is like.

I need a road trip. Without the kids.

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