Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Klaryssia is a Typical Teenager...sigh

I've been parenting special needs children for fifteen years. In those years, I've learned a few things - not too many, but a few. I potty-trained a nineteen year old developmentally delayed girl with severe CP and seizure disorder. I cared for an ANGRY, dying young man with Duchenne's Muscular dystrophy who used to attack his mother with his power wheelchair. In fact, I took him on a 4,000 mile camping trip to the Grand Canyon, Sea World, Disneyland, Seattle, and back to Colorado. Interesting trip.

I parented a deaf and mentally delayed teen aged boy who would hit anyone with no particular provocation and was incontinent at night. I helped nurse a baby born at 25weeks who was ventilator and feeding tube dependent to relative independence and amazing cognitive development (see any of my posts about Kameron). I've worked lots of other children with a variety of challenging disorders, damaged family backgrounds, and severe behavior issues.

But I just don't get Klaryssia.

Klaryssia is my daughter. I adopted her at age eight; she's been in my home since she was six. She has a laundry list of possible diagnoses (many of these kiddos do), some of which are MR, DD, ADHD, RAD, and OCD. That translates: mentally retarded, developmentally delayed, ADHD (duh), reactive attachment disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. She's on a varied assortment of medications. We've been working with several doctors over the years to tweak them. Her behaviors and moods make it hard for her to play well with others, in spite of all the meds.

She's seventeen now. So, in addition to her typically crazy/compulsive/out-of-control stuff, throw in puberty and teenaged angst. Yep, not only is she a "Special Child", she is a teenager, too.

She stomps away when she's mad. She slams her door. She bursts into tears unexpectedly. She yells at her siblings. She yells at me. She says stuff like: "I help wash dishes!" at really odd times, like that's supposed to explain why she's acting like a fool. She accuses me of not knowing anything. She also tells everyone else what to do, as if she's their mother. This of course, doesn't go over well with the the younger sibs. It REALLY doesn't go over well with the older ones. And, perhaps most importantly, it doesn't go over well with me. She yells at my kids more than I do. I have a fairly laid-back parenting approach. I mean, there is enough stress and strife inherent in our living situation. No one needs to stir the pot up unnecessarily, right?

That being said, I'm always game for someone else to be in charge of the zoo. Unfortunately, I don't think Klaryssia has the tools needed to take over. After all, I still shave her legs. She, however is pretty convinced that she can do a better job mothering than me.

Just like a few other teen aged daughters I've had. Come to think of it, I might have been a bit like that, myself...

Maybe she's not that different, after all.


  1. Anonymous8:24 PM

    I really enjoyed Klaryssia today at the fund raiser. She was cracking me up. She is so cute and definatley wanted to be sure all was right AND everyone knew what was going on. Thinking about your sweet daughter puts a smile on my face! :)Kim Schmitz

  2. Thank you, Kim!! So many folks don't "get" her; I appreciate it very much when someone takes the time to see past her differences, and sees her heart.