Monday, July 19, 2010

I hate you

My 10-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old son have a love-hate relationship. He loves her and she hates him. Well, at least some of the time. She oftentimes plays with him especially if she can set the terms. She is a skilled negotiator (a.k.a. manipulator) who can usually get people to see things her way. However, she loses her patience with him which results in crying followed by “I wish we never adopted him. Let’s send him back.”

The other day, this whole pattern cycled through but this time she said “I want to kill myself.” Time out.... In the medical world this is a statement that is not to be taken lightly. It generally means a trip to the emergency room and a psych consult. That further tempered with a suicide in a relative from someone at my daughter’s school made me sit up and pay attention. Should I be taking her to the ER? Calling her pediatrician?

I sat with her and listened to her complaints and stroked her hair while she cried. She was fine yesterday. I wanted to take her seriously, yet it was hard to when she has never shown signs of depression before.

I kept a close eye on her the entire day. I encouraged (forced) her to go on a family bike ride thinking that between the exercise and the sun exposure that would help her sullen mood. And it did. Where the Spring Creek trail merges into the Poudre trail we pulled over to throw rocks into the water and everyone was in good spirits again. She even played with the boy that night despite my repeatedly saying that she really didn’t have to.

Luckily this episode was a false alarm. Girl drama. But I will remain super alert as she inches towards puberty, as I know the risk of depression increases during this developmental period. At least I know where to find a good therapist…


Peg said...

Thanks for posting. My kids have at various times told me that they wish they were dead - some times I know it is just something they are saying to get a reaction and other times I have been greatly worried just like you. It takes a brave woman to write this because I always have had a hard time acknowledging that this is something that my own kids would say. (and admit to the world that my life isn't perfect?)-You are a great mom Elisabeth.

Kristin said...

From the perception of the kids, having said those things myself and even attempted, the worst thing a parent can do is ignore the situation. That doesn't mean a trip to the ER, but not acknowledging the pain. Simply listening can do wonders. It sounds like you did that perfectly.

Elisabeth said...

Thanks guys! You are so supportive! It is so difficult to know when to ignore and when to overreact. I have a feeling things are going to get a lot more complicated as time goes on... said...

My five year old son said that a few months ago...I was in distress of course, took a deep breath and talked to him for a minute. Then I went to the garage and fell apart into hysterics. Grabbed my cell and called my shrink. We worked it out, he was fine. I would always heed this statement for sure, and will dial my shrinks phone number if it ever comes up again. My nephew went through this a lot this last year, he is 17. That is seriousness on a whole new level. I think as long as we can stay in tune with our kiddos, we will hopefully know when they are asking for more from us, or whether they are giving us a sign of serious distress.

Does parenting ever get any easier? I swear if I knew it would test my heart to such levels I might not have decided to go through with it!


One Girl Creative said...

I commend you, Elisabeth, for your bravery in posting this out in the open. Not only does that take courage, but I have always been a firm believer in allowing others to help and support you during a difficult time.

I know Andie, and she's a really good, smart kid. I know she didn't mean what she said, but is just frustrated with the situation. Doesn't mean you shouldn't take it seriously, of course, but I know she's a very intelligent girl with a bright, happy future ahead of her.

Hang tough! We both will most likely have a lot to deal with during those infamous teen years. Oy!


Peg said...

Jen, hate to tell you this, but NO it doesn't get any easier...just different types of issues as the years go on. Maybe when we're grandparents it will be easy!