Twelve = Two. Plus Ten.

Once upon a time, I had a sweet little girl name Leah. From the very first moment we met in Cambodia when she was just seven months old, she was all smiles. And giggles and go go go. Okay, true, she did cry a lot, especially those first weeks in Cambodia. Mostly when she was tired. The rest of the time she was smiles and giggles and go go go. She was outgoing and charming and everybody loved her. And she was my girl, who loved cuddling and just being together.

And then, my little girl turned twelve.

Actually, to be honest, eleven wasn’t super fantastic. But Twelve? It’s like the Terrible Twos… only her two’s weren’t all that terrible, so maybe I’m getting them now?

This morning was difficult. Many mornings are difficult for Leah, because she is the exact opposite of a “morning person” and (or because?) she has ADHD so the whole getting-going thing is nigh on impossible. Every day her alarm goes off at 6:15, and I come to her room at 6:20. I turn on one light, very dim. I cuddle with her for a minute, rubbing her back and telling her I love her. Then I get up and turn on another light, and pick out her clothes. Then I get rub a little lotion on her back, to wake her up more. I pull back all her covers and say, “Ok, it’s really time to get up now.” and I help her swing her legs over the edge of the bed and sit up. She groans and lets me get her into a sitting position. I show her the clothes and tell her to get dressed while I make her breakfast.

And before you freak out and think “Dear God, You are the helicopter-est mother I’ve ever met!”, I want to tell you I do not do anything like this for my other three children. The only reason I do such a routine with Leah is because it is literally the ONLY way to get her out of bed without her being very angry or crying, or well, just not getting up at all. Did I mention she’s not a morning person?

So then, I make her breakfast. Usually it’s an eggo waffle with peanut butter, a cup of instant breakfast and milk, and a mandarin orange. Today it was an ice cream/yogurt smoothie, because her teeth hurt. (Her teeth hurt because she just got spacers in on Monday. She’s starting orthodontia. Yes, because twelve wasn’t fun enough, we decided to add that to the mix. Because everyone’s more cheerful when their teeth hurt, right? (Also, her 12 year molars are coming in. So she’s literally teething. I’m telling you, Two and Twelve -> Same-Same ).) With breakfast she takes her ADHD medicine and today I gave her 2 junior advils for her teeth.

Usually, once we get past breakfast, she’s doing pretty good. She brushes her teeth and washes her face. I brush her hair. Because she doesn’t brush it right. Or at all. Depending on her mood. And then, we head off to the bus stop.

This morning, sitting in our car at the bus stop, Leah would only grunt. No words, only grunts. Whiny grunts. Just like a two year old.

I was trying to be calm and cheerful and kind. “I’m sorry your teeth hurt. The advil should kick in soon and then you’ll feel better!”

More grunting. And then, “No they won’t! They hurt all day yesterday!”

Me: “Try not to focus on it. If you think about other things, it won’t bother you so much.” {I learned that in birthing class. It’s true, but also annoying advice. So I probably shouldn’t have bothered.}

Then from the back seat came gurgling noises. Seriously. Like a wild animal. Or a two year old.

I kind of flipped out a little. “What’s wrong? Are you okay? Swallow your spit! You need to get control of yourself, the bus will be here any minute and you can not stay home today.” I didn’t yell. I swear. But I did use my “I mean it” voice. Which apparently is the same thing as yelling in her book.

She started crying. “You’re yelling at me. You always yell at me.”

“No I’m not. I’m sorry, I just needed you to calm down. I love you honey.”

“No you don’t!”

The bus comes. She wipes away her tears and starts getting out of the car.

Me: “I love you!”

Her: (as she slams the door) “Good Riddance!”

UGH. UGH. And MORE UGH. I did not handle that well. I know I didn’t. But I’m at a loss as to how I could have done better. I’m thinking maybe sitting in silence would have been better? I know my Pollyanna act can get annoying. But seriously? I tried so flippin’ hard to get her off on the right foot, and now I’m home stewing, worried she’s grunting at everyone today and making plans to run away. (She threatened that a few weeks ago. I’m pretty sure she really wouldn’t, but oh crap is that the scariest thing a kid can say.)

I’m thinking about homeschool again. But my thing is, I’m not going to keep pulling her out and putting her back. If we pull her out again, it’s for good, until she graduates. (She’ll be in 8th grade next year). Part of me thinks its the best solution – ADHD and public school is a very difficult mix, plus then we wouldn’t have to deal with the sleep issues. But part of me worries this is me being ridiculously over-protective and over-bearing and over-everything and I need to let her grow up. I seriously don’t know what is the right thing to do. I’ve be praying, and will keep praying, but this is one of those times that barring a giant chalkboard with the answer written on it, I’m not sure how I’ll know what the right thing is.

Help my internetty friends! I need advice! Also empathy. Share your wisdom!! Please?


4 thoughts on “Twelve = Two. Plus Ten.

  1. Well that is the number one reason Addison homeschools. She is SO social and dreams of school but when push comes to shove she is SUCH a terrible sleeper that the thought of school is just not worth it to her. And she doesn’t sleep SO late. She gets up around 9 or 10 at the latest. On Wednesdays we go to science and it starts at 9 and it is MISERABLE. She absolutely cannot handle being woken by any*one* so has an alarm clock but she’s slow to rise, dress, eat. The whole thing is like her walking through honey. It takes her HOURS to be fully awake on Wednesdays. The difference is pretty huge. Zero wake-up or adjustment time in the mornings, always happy. It’s lovely. That alone makes it worth it to me and she’s 7. Teenagers, as you know, need more sleep and I think kids with ADHD and other neurological type challenges probably require even MORE sleep because their brains need it! And that’s a whole lot of coddling for a 12 year old – I would go out of my mind. I would homeschool just to avoid that! LOL I seriously do feel your pain. I have always taken it for granted that kids just bound out of bed at the crack of dawn until Addison.

  2. Yes! Walking through honey… totally! You’re also the third homeschooling mom to tell me that “sleep” is a valid reason to decide to homeschool. I might have to stop feeling bad about putting that one the “pros” list. LOL.

  3. I have no advice but complete sympathy… B is only 10 and we are SO there PLUS the beginning of Random and overwhelming bursts of intense emotions( thank you hormones)

    1. Empathy is helpful too! Yes, my friend, buckle up, because it’s a bumpy ride!! I can see Quinn, at 18, coming out the other side and tell myself it will be okay… but throw in the adoption issues and the ADHD and I have some trouble reassuring myself. One day at a time, I guess!

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