Friday, June 29, 2012

Has it been a week?

It turned out that we met with a probation officer, not a judge, on Tuesday. I started to write about the meeting on Wednesday, but got sidetracked and can't find where I saved it as a draft. The Ninja will be on probation for two months (our attorney said that was the shortest probation he'd ever seen). He has a curfew, community service and home chore requirements, an essay to write, his partner in crime to have no contact with, two apology letters to us and the store (which he's done). The officer and the attorney told him that this was his one chance and not to blow it. If he messes up again, he WILL go to jail, or the teen equivalent thereof (a residential facility near here). So far, so good.

I just picked up the idea of "Friday Fives" from here. Since I don't have other ideas at the moment, I think I will include five offbeat things about myself (at least I think they're offbeat).

1. The first stage show I ever saw was a community production of "Guys and Dolls". How old was I? Eight, nine? My great-uncle Charlie played Nicely-Nicely Johnson. By coincidence, when I met my husband many many years later, it turned out he had played Nicely-Nicely, in a grade school production, and brought down the house with his powerful rendition of "Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat." Wish I could have been there to see it.

2. I don't like cell phones. I carry one because my husband says I have to. It's an old model not being made any more. All I need is to make and receive calls. No smartphone nonsense for me. Sorry, true believers.

3. I started reading at the age of three. All by myself. I'd been read to almost every night of my life, and one day I picked up a newly-arrived copy of "Highlights" magazine. I started reading a story about a little boy, his mother and baby sister traveling on a train. The baby needed her bottle warmed, and the conductor took and warmed it by holding it next to the hot engine. (This was long, long before the Age of Microwaves.) My mom freaked out. She knew I hadn't memorized this story because the magazine had just come in the mail.

4. I am a very anxious person. I have been a cuticle picker and hair puller for as long as I can remember.

5. When we first met Toots and The Ninja, it seemed almost miraculous that Ninja's first name was a family name on my mother's side. Spelled the correct way, also.

I know, pointless random thoughts. But with all the things that have been happening lately with the kids, I get tired of thinking about the bad stuff.

Friday, June 22, 2012

By the way

We have started The Ninja back seeing the therapist he worked with last year.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


How did we get from THIS

to THIS?


I heard The Ninja on the phone with Friend (aka partner in crime) from last week. You'll remember that our families made different choices. The friend is undergoing restrictions, but apparently nowhere near as severe as the ones we have imposed.

After his call ended, Ninja complained that Friend stole more stuff than he did, but had a lesser punishment. I reminded Ninja that, before the shopping spree, he had already ripped us off for a substantial amount of money buying songs on iTunes. He turned away to go back to his room, and all I heard was "Unfair".


Last Tuesday, The Ninja and a friend decided to go shopping at the mall.

Without any money.

The two 14-year-old knuckleheads sauntered around, throwing two pairs of sneakers and earbud headphones in a backpack.

Until Ninja got caught sticking a wallet in his pocket in Big Well-Known Department Store.

I got a call from Ninja about 3 pm. "Mom......." Then a staff security member came on and explained what had happened. I charged down to the mall.

By the time the friend's mother and I got there, Friend was sobbing. Ninja was sitting nonchalantly, looking unconcerned. Friend was upset and promising he'd never do it again. Ninja said he'd just go out and do it again.

Big Well-Known Department Store was willing to release the boys to our custody, without law enforcement involvement. Friend's mother took him home, promising that family friends who are police officers would be giving him a strongly worded talk.

Due to the bravado and the attitude, we decided to lower the boom on the Ninja. Waited for a police officer to arrive. During the wait, Ninja started to seem upset, sitting on a bench with his head in his hands.

Officer arrived. Gave Ninja a talking-to while taking down information and writing an appearance ticket. Put Ninja in handcuffs and took him to the precinct. L. and I followed. More talking-to, from a detective and another office, took place. We signed for him and took him home.

He has a court date on Tuesday. We have engaged an attorney who is a family friend. Attorney says that what will probably happen, due to Ninja's age, is supervised probation, attendance at a StopLift program, and sealing of the records if he stays out of trouble for a period of time.

Earlier in the week, Ninja said to me that he's never going to shoplift again. This morning, he said that he doesn't know whether he will or not. I feel sick to my stomach.

Any advice, encouragement or words of wisdom, anyone?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A bad couple of days

The Ninja made a really bad choice on Tuesday. No one is physically hurt, but the emotional pain is intense. More later when I have the heart to describe it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Did everyone know about this stuff but me?

The Ninja is a boy's boy. He runs. He spars. He plays basketball. He moves. And he sweats, like no one I've ever seen.

He has some t-shirts and socks that just reek unbelievably. I've tried all the natural laundry additives that I could find recommended. Salt. Vinegar. Baking soda. Still reeked.

Recently I heard about OxiClean. Bought a big container of the laundry powder and have been experimenting with it. I have achieved conquest over smelly shirts, completely in most cases and pretty substantially in a few cases. I've been soaking the clothes in hot water with a scoop of OxiClean and my regular laundry detergent for a couple of hours, then putting through a regular wash cycle.

Ninja is happy. I am happy. The ambiance of the entire house is a little happier. Try it on your awful-smelling things.

I'm not getting paid for this plug, but I wouldn't mind.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


...haven't heard from Toots.

I saw a couple after Mass this morning, whom I've known since before we met the kids. At various church meetings, these people heard me agonize over the application process, the pre-adoption meetings, the agita of having them out to Long Island for visits. They were among the first people to meet the kids out here. They were very sorry to hear that Toots is going through an especially bad time, and they promised to pray for her.

People are nice.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quiet for now

Lew talked to Toots on the phone yesterday. She didn't have much to say.

Lew has gone upstate to a friend's house for the weekend. It's just me and The Ninja. I'm not going to call Toots. If she wants to call me, she can.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

One other thing

During my conversation with Toots' psychiatrist, she said, "I can't imagine how you ever coped with this at home."

"I don't need to be in the hospital"

I received a phone call from Toots' psychiatrist, Dr. S., at about 11:45 this morning. She filled in more of the story.

Seems Toots says she fell in the shower the other day. The staff didn't hear her fall, but they found her sitting on the floor of the shower stall complaining of back pain. (I let the doctor know that she has sat on the floors of showers for years, just letting the waterfall run over her for many minutes.) She was examined by the hospital pediatrician, who said she would be OK and offered her pain medicine. Toots didn't like that. As I have discussed before, her pattern for the last ten years is, with any pain real or not, to loudly and repeatedly insist on being taken to the nearest ER.

The most striking incidence of this behavior was five years ago, at my dad's wake. Toots claimed she had twisted her ankle running around outside, and was lying on a sofa moaning and groaning and insisting on an ER run. We have two doctors in the family - one a pediatric emergency specialist - and they both examined her and pronounced that she'd be fine with an ice pack and a little rest. Nothing doing for Toots. She kept complaining,louder and louder. Finally, Lew took her out for a ride in the car, which did not satisfy her but calmed her down a little.

Back to current events. Dr. S. observed that Toots seems to express her emotions through complaining about pain. True, doctor, we've been seeing that for a very long time. During the incident last evening, when she punched a staff member in the face, she was restrained manually. One of the people doing the hold had to twist her arm behind her back to get control. Today, she has been complaining about pain in her wrist. Again, she was examined by the pediatrician, who determined that it was not serious. She was offered ice and pain meds, which she refused. The pediatrician and the hospital's Medical Director agree that she does not need to go to the ER now, and on top of that, in her current mental state she is not safe to leave the hospital with staff.

Nevertheless, Toots kept insisting that the staff call me to take her to the ER. Dr. S. told her that she and Toots would call me at home together, during the lunch hour. I told Dr. S. that I absolutely would not take her, especially since they feel she is not safe.

This may be getting a mite confusing. Anyway, Toots and the doctor called me at about 12:30. I got an earful about "I don't need to be here, I need to go to the ER, I'm in a lot of pain, Mom, why don't you ever listen to me instead of to them?" She said that she bit the staffer because he had told her "Shut up." Hey, if that's the worst thing he said to her when she was raging, he has more strength of character than I do.

I tried to keep my voice as calm as possible and told her that it was NEVER okay to hit someone in the face. Since both doctors felt she didn't need to go, I was not taking her. (I didn't remind her, but I have vivid memories of Toots in a rage, attempting to grab the steering wheel, put the car into neutral, and run me off the road. Not gonna go there again.)

Her response was to hang up on me.

Oh, Toots. How can you think that you would be able to function in the outside world on your own?

Bad to worse

I just spoke with Toots' psychiatrist at the hospital. She is continuing to go downhill. I have to go out now, but more later.


During my visit on Sunday, Toots kept insisting that she doesn't need to be in the hospital, she hates it, she knows what she has to do, etc. etc.

Last night at 9:30, we received a phone call from a nurse on her unit. Toots "had a bad day" yesterday, which means she balked at requests, spoke nastily to staff, picked arguments with other girls, refused to do her schoolwork, etc. etc. Her aggression escalated on the unit last evening. She scratched her arm, although she didn't have anything at hand to cut herself with. She also punched a staff member in the face. The nurse told us that the injured staffer has a cut on the lip, and that's all. Thank God. Toots had to be restrained (they use manual holds only) and given "stat" medication (quick-acting sedative). She was put back on one-to-one, with a staff member with her at all times. They had her sleep in the common area of the unit, rather than in her room, for monitoring purposes.

If she does get out into the "real world", how long would it take for her to hit someone and be arrested for assault? Worse, what if she hits a police officer (she's done it before, but no serious consequences because she's a minor and a psych patient)and gets Tasered or shot?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Since the emotional scene on Friday night, we have noticed that The Ninja seems to be calmer and in a better mood overall.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More info

Spoke with Toots's social worker. Toots would have to submit what's called a "72-hour letter" to the hospital administration. Then, two psychiatrists would evaluate her to see if she could be discharged safely. SW told me that she has never seen a 72-hour letter initiated by a kid go through to discharge. The SW also told Toots that, if she left without housing lined up, and we didn't let her move back home, her option would be a homeless shelter.

Homeless shelter? What in the name of glory have we come to? This is becoming a tough love situation for us. But it's just not possible for us to have her back home on a full-time basis. The stress and fear and anger she subjects us to aren't livable. And we're not going to sacrifice The Ninja's life for her. If she refuses to accept the help that's offered to her, well, she refuses.

Toots also has the right to contact the state Mental Hygiene Legal Services for assistance. I used to have some dealings with them. The lawyer who acted locally for MHLS was a very no-nonsense, get-to-the-point person. Very competent, but NOT warm and fuzzy. If she is still in the position, I can just imagine the conversation between her and Toots.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Part of Toots' plan of leaving the hospital and setting herself up is to return to the BOCES special high school where she has already flamed out twice. Would they even give her a third shot?

I emailed The Ninja's guidance counselor this morning. He met with Ninja briefly, and they will have a longer discussion on Wednesday.

What next?

It transpired that the amount of money Ninja appropriated to buy music on iTunes was a great deal more than $150. Enough that we could have used to have a memorable summer vacation, rather than just going to visit relatives. With the help of a therapist, we have instituted a drastic plan to help him relearn that his actions have an effect on his life. Virtually all privileges are gone, as is his allowance. We are not canceling the week of camp, as we would not get all the money back from that, but he is not going to have any money put in an account in the camp store. After June is over, he will have opportunities to start earning back limited privileges.

He has been pretty quiet and sober about it all the last day and a half. He cried on Friday night that he didn't want to be this way, he knows he's doing bad things but can't seem to stop, and our consequences up to now have been just minor irritations.

Meanwhile, Toots' latest idea is that she is going to sign herself out of the hospital. And live how????? Lew told her that we won't let her starve on the street, but she should not expect to be able to move back home. She thinks she will continue in school and get a part-time job in a store, and that will be enough to support herself. I tried to explain to her about the job market and minimum wage. Didn't get anywhere. She has no more clue than a three-year-old.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Keeps piling up

Last night, Toots punched a wall on her unit at Children's Hospital. She does this frequently, and has broken her right wrist several times. Not this time, thankfully. Just got a phone call. Today in school, she was having a verbal altercation with another girl. A male teacher stepped in and tried to break it up. Toots stabbed him in the side with a pencil.

Just broke the skin, fortunately.

I get so I don't even feel much at the announcement of new atrocities. It's just same old, same old with Toots, ten years' worth of it.

She thinks she is going to college when she finishes high school. We can't imagine how she would navigate a campus environment or make it through a class.

Yet more agita

We are having some considerable trouble with The Ninja. Lately, he has been coming up with some creative lies, such as "I was marked absent for that class because the power went out and the teacher couldn't enter the information in the system." Yeah, right.

Yesterday, we discovered that he has been using my husband's Amex card unauthorized, to buy music on iTunes. At least $150 worth. My husband set it up so that Ninja could buy iTunes, but the agreement was that he would reimburse me in cash when he did that. Well, what we have here is partially a parental failure to communicate. When he got the bills, Lew wasn't checking with me to see if I'd gotten the cash. Not that that excuses the Ninja. We're in the process of coming up with a consequence that will make him sit up and take notice. We hope.

Oh, did I mention that he's also failing math and may have to repeat the course?