Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homeward Bound

the day
september 30th
my husband
the middlest
and the littlest
grandfather's plane
to pick the biggest up
from Merdiell
her residential treatment center

it was just supposed to me
my husband and me
but with all the mess
going on at school
with the little one
we couldn't leave her there
and then we couldn't
just bring her without
the middlest
so we all went to
retrieve Ms Karen

We were so excited
and scared
and happy!

The plane ride seemed so slow
the car trip seemed too long
but we got there
and surprised her
first me and my husband
loads of hugs and kisses
then her sisters
she was so thrilled
until she figured out
that it meant
our meeting didn't go well
whatever we said
the point was
we were all there to bring her home

it was bittersweet to see
Karen say good bye to her friends
at the bunkhouse
some girls actually cried
they all seemed to respect her
and believe in her
and see the leader in her
that we know is there
she just doesn't always see it

I let her sit up front in the car
I needed to keep the two youngest
we didn't need any fights starting

I kept looking at her and smiling
I kept kissing on her
hugging on her
telling her I loved her
I was just so thrilled
when we drove out of the gates
to never return

Not that we don't appreciate what
they did for her
just that we don't want to ever
go through that again

we ate a sweet lunch
with grandfather
we flew home
we drove back home
she walked in the door
and was worried the dog had
forgotten her
he was so happy to see her
even though it did
take him a few minutes to remember her

there were boxes
cookie bouquets
welcoming Karen back home
she was shocked at the attention
she always is
she never sees how good she is
she doesn't see all the
amazing qualities she has

We ate dinner together
we talked at the table
we just stared at one another
still not believing
that we were
once again
a family of five

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I can't believe it has gone on this long
these teachers
this head of the middle school
the assistant head
the learning assistance specialist
the middle school counselor

what is taking them so long
and why are they making my daughter so miserable
it is ridiculous really
do they want to prove a point?
do they want to keep trying to see if we will give up?
do they think we will?

My husband and I are so sick of these games
thank goodness
this psychologist we found
to help the sisters cope
with Karen's leaving
and returning
has been patient
with Lucy about this school situation
she has spoken to
the head of the middle school
she still does not see why he is waiting either
she is telling my husband and I
just to stop
just to tell them
we pay for this school
do right by our child
in our child's best interest
it is all BS
she is such a good kid
and she is so stressed at this point
it is sad to see
a stressed 12 year old
that is one of the signs
you see at Meridell
the residential treatment center
where Karen is

we don't need another patient there
we can't afford to put another patient there
we just want this school
the one where I taught
the one where my husband went to school
the one where we have been parents
and paid for tuition for 12 years
to do the right thing

leaving her the last time

final family therapy
it went so well
too well
we all got along so well
I didn't want to leave my daughter
I bawled like a baby
it still killed me to leave Karen like that

knowing in less than 48 hours
I was going to have the privlege
of signing her out one last time

I would get to bring her home
to OUR home
to her home
the one that has just not been the same without her

I think the dog will be the most excited
he has no clue what is going on
he usually loves to hang out on Karen's bed
he has practically been following me around
her room is empty
the lights are off
I can hardly bring myself to
go in there myself
the dog is even more confused

But, I could do it
I could let her go
ONE last time
only because I now know
it is one last time

she has worked so hard
she has met the challenges
she has faced obstacles
she had to be a leader
she had to get along with peers
she had to share a room
a bathroom
she even had to do laundry
when she remembered
I probably packed her
enough clothes she could go for weeks
I bet she did

I am planning not to leave her side
unless she makes me
for a couple of weeks
I told her she was going to get sick of me
she said no way
I liked that answer
she said she wants to slowly adjust back to school
her school
such a wonderful place
such a warm place
such a welcoming place
told my husband and me
that anything Karen wanted
they would work out

we have kids at 2 schools
and we know
for sure
the other one would never do that
let's not dwell on that school
let's focus on Karen's great school
the best place for her
the best environment for her
one where she feels safe
she feels connected
she feels is the best school
so that
is all that matters

no matter what
leaving her is hard
the first time
I cried so hard on the way home
my husband and I were silent
we were hurting so much
then there was the time
she had one of her
"doozies" of an outburst
her new word
not mine
that we had to leave her
when she was still upset
that made it
extremely hard to leave

At least this time
her smile was beaming
her eyes were shiny
she knew it was less than 48 hours too

I wanted to run back in and grab her
but I had to make it to the car
I had to drive away
but I would come back
I could do it

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur

today was yom kippur a jewish holiday
not of celebration
but of observance
and introspection
well it actually began last night
this year though
we are not going to temple
we are not going to services
in fact
we are not fasting

our oldest daughter
our biggest baby
has been in a mental health
residential treatment center
for 7 weeks
we decided to spend time with her
all five of us
the importance of Yom Kippur
is to atone for your sins
to repent for all your wrongdoings
to ask forgiveness to all that you wronged
in the past year
in essence
one is supposed to forgive all others
forget the past
erase the hurts and abuse
and move on
began a new life
a new year
and get sealed in the book of life for another year

during this
holiest of holidays
the 24 hours of yom kippur
one is supposed to fast
not eat and not drink
the whole time
and the reasons vary
some say to punish oneself
some say to not be concerned with
just focus on yourself and no others
to be hungry
to feel pain
I have also heard that it is the closest to death
that you can get
while one in healthy
that is why anyone who is sick
ill or otherwise not capable
is excused from fasting

so yesterday
we picked up our daughter from
her treatment center
and all 5 of us
had dinner together
we laughed
we cried from tears
of laughter or joy
we went back to our hotel room
and made a new treatment plan
for Karen’s return on Wednesday
this Wednesday
so happy
we made goals
for Karen
for her sisters
and her parents
how we will all work together
to start anew
to make this family work
to support one another
to believe in ourselves
and each other
it was a fabulous
that I was amazed to see
come together
after such a short time
when just a few month ago
I never would have though possible
we were experiencing our
own yom kippur
forgiving one another
discussing the wrongs of the past
and figuring out new ways to make things new
creating a new life for all of us
as a family
of five
our family of 5
our perfect
well, not so perfect
but in our own way
our perfectly
imperfect family
just the way it is

so we all laughed
watched tv
and made fun of
daddy falling aleep
on the bed
with his glasses on
and snoring and not waking up
the laughter between the girls
was music to my ears
the smiles on their faces were
stars in my own dark skies
i have had in my head these
last few weeks
I couldn’t get over the fact that
this nightmare
was about to come to an end!

since my husband fell alseep on
Karen’s bed
I was lucky enough to get to sleep with her
I had her body by me all night
I couldn’t stop touching her
she held my hand and talked
about her fears of coming home
and the fear of becoming the person
she used to be that scared us
and herself
I told her that she had the skills and tools
now to have the confidence in herself
that she never had before
that like riding a bike
when she was 5 she would
continually fall off and cry
thinking she would never learn to ride a bike
but now if she fell off
she would just get back on
becaue she knew she could do it
it is similar
she has the knowledge
the power
the coping skills
the patience
the belief in herself
that she can take control
of the situation

this morning
when Bethany said she was not going to eat
she was going to fast
because unlike the rest of us
she was taking this holiday seriously
then I told her the meaning
of the fast that I liked the best
that it is close to death
and then you begin a new life
fresh and clean
with no regrets
I explained to her that
we have experienced a
*death* in the last 7 weeks
we have had the death of our family
we have struggled
we have almost given up hope
we have lost our appetite
we have lost a beloved family member
we are starting a new today
with a new life for our family

nothing can compare to what we
have experienced
but our family therapy appt that morning
was to be the beginning
of our new life
our new family
our new hope
that we could start

our appointment went so well
it was spitual in the way that
a usual Yom Kippur service
would not have been like
to me that day

this was more important than anything else right now
the 5 of us in the room
with the therapist who has helped
our daughter disover her special qualities
that make her so special
and loving
and how she has worked so hard to get where she is
and how we all have suffered so much
without her

I told the story of Yom Kippur
and how special and meaningful it was
that our last family therapy
was on that day
that we all know
but sometimes forget
that the most spiritual
and meaningful jewish moments
don’t need to happen in a temple
they just need to happen in a community
where everyone is aware that G-d
is present and there with us at that moment

Sunday, September 27, 2009

more on my baby

I am so upset for my little one
then I remember there is a counselor

just for the middle school
I know that she and Little Lucy
have a relationship
and that she is aware of the current family situation
I forward the group email to her letting her know
about my little girl
she checks her schedule against my daughter’s
and realizes she has missed the study hall for the day
but she would look for Lucy to give her a hug
and plan a meeting for the next day

I get an itch
an uncomfortable one
while looking at some papers at home
I decide to get up to school early
to go to the learning assistance’s office
the head of school is there (surprise)
they don’t seem too surprised to see me
the door was opened
so I asked the Language therapist if she had gotten
Lucy’s psych evaluation from the Doctor
no she says, not by email
and not by mail
so I tell her I will fax it to her
when I get home

the head askes me to spend some time talking with him
I sat down, the door closed behind me
I felt uncomfortable
being there without my husband
worried I would say something wrong
that I could mess things up somehow
but I smiled
he asked about Karen and her “adventure”
she should be coming home the next week
I almost shouted and said with tears in my eyes
then he talked about Lucy
he reminded me that their policy is
not to discuss a cheating suspicion with a parent first
and he stands behind that
agree to disagree
I still think it is wrong
and he admitted that the teachers reacted wrong
in not contacting me about the discussion
although, in regard to Lucy's emotional meltdown
they aren’t sure that they caused that
they did not feel they accused her
that only she should think about what happened

I said that the advisor also accused my little girl
of cheating in her classroom also
and I don’t like that
the head of the middle school
said all of us are emotional
the teachers
my husband
little Lucy
and himself
we all need to take time
to think about it
before making any rash decisions
that we would regret later
he said he wanted Lucy to have a normal day
the next day
come to school and participate like all the others
oh-would she be able to take that Spanish test?
I said I would have to ask her
it was time for me to leave
I saw my little one and
we started walking to the car
I asked her about the Spanish test
and her response was
"aren’t I switching to Latin?”
uh oh, I thought, this isn’t right
but we are not going back to say this
I tell her all about the conversations
her father and I had with the head of school
she said she was able to avoid both of the teachers
that day
I said she would never get out of history
but from now on
face forward if she needs to
keep her head down
and either she gets a 100
or a zero
or something in between
we don’t care
this is 7th grade history
it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference for getting into college
and then I explained the other situation
she is so smart
she is so sweet
she really gets it
she said
“Oh, so they need to hear
that *I* want the changes
right now all they know is
that you want those changes for me
not that I wanted you to ask for them”
right, my smart child
and we talked about how
important her meeting with the counselor
was going to be
and how using important words
like Need and Trust
should make all the difference in that discussion

Lucy had an appointment with a psychologist that afternoon
to talk about her sister situation
I was worried that Lucy wouldn’t open up
she usually keeps things in
she was concerned of going in alone
she had not met this woman
but the doctor comes to get her
they walk off together
and I don’t see either one for almost an hour
the doctor brings me back
and discusses the irrational behavior
of the teachers
and that Lucy should get a new advisor
and a new language teacher and class
this all was handled wrong
and I was not even in the room
to hear what my little girl had said!

the doctor coach my Littlest
on what words to use when she spoke
with the counselor
how important it was to get her feeling across
to this woman
she got all that just by talking to the student
no parent involvement at all
guess she did deserve that Phd :)

my daughter goes to school like normal
I drop her off
and tell her probably a little less than 100 times
if anything makes you uncomfortable
call me
if you don’t feel good
leave the room
and call me
I am here for you
call me
get someone
to call me for you if you can’t do it
okay mom
I get it
I can call you

I worry
I get home
I got an email back from the learning specialist
she had glanced over the psych report
and little one needs an ILAP
(Individualized learning assistance plan)
so she can have accommodations
due to her dygraphia
and possibly some attention issues
she had to be out of the office that day
but she would work on it over the weekend
and get it to the teachers the next week
then another mom who heard about this situation
told me her daughter told her the whole thing
and their science teacher
that they all were in awe of
noticed Lucy’s twisted paper and seat earlier in the year
asked her if it was normal and she said it was
and he said no big deal and let it go
what a difference just asking a question makes

so I send an email back to the learning assistance specialist
thanking her for her time and proudly offering
this bit of information
I also copied the head of school and the assistant head of school
who had been out of town the whole time this had been going on
I quickly get a return email from the Assistant head
she just found out about it
she would be there if I needed her

the day went on
I emailed the counselor to let her know of the psych eval
and that I was so happy Lucy had her to talk to
and that if Lucy was too upset and did not want to go to spanish
I would pick her up early
I get to school at normal time
see my daughter
and all of her friends who were riding with us
we get in the car
laughing like usual
my husband calls before we are out of the lot
he wants to know about Her and Her meeting
I didn’t really want to talk
with everyone else in the car
we said we’d call back
the friends get out of the car
Lucy has to wait to go inside with them
we call daddy back
she tells us
that the counselor wants her
to make a pro/con list
of all the reasons to change
advisors and to Latin
what-nothing is happening
well, they were going to meet again on Tuesday
my husband and I were meeting with the head
on weds morning
the day we were to go pick
up Karen our big girl,
our biggest baby
from her residential treatment center
so they were not going to ruin that day for us

Lucy got out of the car
I looked at my middlest
and said, so that’s how they want to play
we have to play this silly game
but we are still going to win
we are still going to get what Lucy wants
they just don’t know it yet
they want to wear us out
and more importantly
wear her out
so she won’t care anymore
and she will just want it to go away

we made that mistake 2 years ago
when Karen was in 9th grade
and she had a bad bad horrible
beginning with a new advisor
we made this mistake
and did what the school proposed
they don’t like to make changes
they said the teacher would be understanding and make it work
about 6 months later
we were in the children’s ER with her
with suicide threats
and just wanting to die
because she was so miserable at home because of school
maybe she still would have left the school eventually
but we will never know
and I know I can’t forgive myself
for allowing that to happen to my child
she did not trust that woman again

my husband got back on the computer
he typed up an email to the head
the assistant head
the learning specialist
and the counselor
stating that with
the psych evaluation
the opinions and feelings that Lucy described to the counselor
that another teacher did not find her behavior questionable
when we arrive on weds morning
there needs to be an alternate schedule needs to be
available for our viewing

oddly enough
that night
when taking three 7th grade girls home
from a movie
one girl said that she fell asleep in history class today
and after class
the teacher came over to her and told her not to do that again
the same teacher who accused my daughter of cheating
because she looked around the room
oh good I said
I liked the way he handled that
maybe he learned something

I am sure this is not over
more to come
more to bear
more games to play
we won't give up

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My baby

my youngest

my Littlest
my Lucy
was hot boxed
by 3 teachers
and accused of cheating
on a daily assignment
in class
not a test
not a paper
but some stupid “thing”

and the fact that
there were 3 adults
in the room with her
no parent present
no parent notified
and this happened
2 days
the event

so they thought
this was an appropriate response
take a sweet
innocent 12 year old
in a room
then tell her
that only an admittance
of guilt
would be good for her character
because if she said
she had not cheated
then they would think she was lying
and then they couldn’t trust her again

all she did
was look around the room
during this “assessment”
as she said
she was not in a bubble
she should be allowed to look around
she didn’t even remember who
she was sitting by
they named the girl
and said that Lucy cheated off that girl’s paper
THEN the audacity
of her so-called advisor
said that she sees Lucy look
around the room during her class
this is her advisor
who is supposed to be her advocate
who even knows what is happening
to our family right now
never called me
never emailed me
never tried to contact me about this

the teachers even asked if something was going on at home
well, no duh, really
so she reminded them of the Karen situation
oh yes
they said
they didn’t want to cause more stress
well, they sure did

my poor baby
her eyes were red
she was in a classroom
alone with these 3 teachers
well 2 teachers and an intern
that intern is not learning from the right people
that is for sure

they didn’t let her call me
they just told her to go get cleaned up
for her next class
she went to the bathroom
one of her good friends was there
Lucy told her story
so when they left the bathroom
and Lucy’s eyes were still red
the friend joked saying she
got soap in them
so nobody would question the
red eyes again

my littlest
my youngest
had soccer practice after school
so, after picking her up
dropping off the other girls
from the carpool
by the time I heard
this actual
awful story
it was 6:00
way past time to call the school
and long past any time
that they could have contacted me
and warned me what they did to her
where does all this come from
attacking a child
an innocent
12 year old girl
one month into school
no parent involvement
if you haven’t been able to tell yet
i am an involved parent
(don’t get me started on
being a “normal mother”)

so, I sent an email

to the 3 teachers
and a copy to the head
of the middle school
where my daughter goes
where I think she is safe
where I trust them with her life

i say that I am livid
i say I am shocked that 3 teachers cornered my daughter
threatening her character
and without my knowledge
or without warning me of her demise

then my dear husband
called the 4 and left
calm, rational
but intense voicemails
requesting return calls

we decided our daughter would go
to school late the next day
and not spend her first
15 minutes in advisory
and I would pick her up early
to avoid the test in Spanish
given by this evil woman
driving my little one to school
i tell her that her father and I were most upset
with the advisor
she is the one who is to be our child’s advocate
and she is the one who knows this situation
and she is the one who has known our family for 11 years
almost as long as Lucy has been born
long enough to know that we had good deaughters
who had never been trouble to anyone
we were most disappointed in her behavior
and how she did not keep our little one safe

i took little Lucy in late
she happened to see
the 2 main teachers
in the Admin’s office
she said her advisor looked mad
i said "good"
i left her
knowing that these teachers were in the office
and she was safe in her next class

and I waited for what would happen next...

later on

i got a phone call from the head of school
i asked to conference in my husband
but he couldn’t figure out the system
(wonder what that means)
i called my husband on the land line
and out my cell on speaker
the 3 of us could speak to and hear each other

the head of school says that it is policy to approach
a student if a teacher thinks cheating is involved
and a parent is never contacted
okay, I don’t have to like the policy
or agree with it
but it happened
what about after the event
oh, they handled that wrong
he tells me
and he is sorry for that

but, he spoke with these teachers
and they didn’t feel that they cornered her
or threatened her
or accuse her of cheating
or that she would never be trusted
And her character would be judged the rest of the year
And that only a guilty verdict would be believed
They thought they told her to think about it
and they would hear back

he backs his teachers up
i give him that
it is his job
and he said that the advisor
is there to help with a situation
but I reminded him
she did not
she sided with the other teacher
that was not a help at all to our child.
it just made the situation worse

he said that these teachers have been doing this a long time
and they just know when a child is cheating
we asked him if they had seen her sit sideways before
if any other teacher had commented on it in years past
my husband asked if the head of school had seen the
psychological evaluation with the dysgraphia diagnosis
the head of school said they had talked about all of that
with the learning assistance specialist
my husband reiterated
that we wanted our daughter
out of this teachers advisory
and out of her class
that our daughter would start
a new language and start new
with all students in their first year of this language

that head of school
said we were over reacting
he said maybe that Lucy wanted to continue Spanish
no we told him
he said that maybe just switching this language class
would change her entire schedule
he said that maybe Lucy wanted to stay with her friends
in her advisory class
we told him all those things did not matter to her
she wants to be somewhere else
we want her in a class where she feels safe
where she can trust the teacher
and where she feels validated

he did not agree with us
but he would weigh the options
fine, agree to disagree
but we knew what we wanted
and we knew it would happen


Thursday, September 24, 2009


so yesterday

there was a botched terrorist bombing
at my husband’s office

I heard about it last night
that is when I assumed it had happened
silly me
tonight he told me it was at 10 am
the day before
while he was there at work
on the phone
with me and the head of the middle school
ugh, don’t get me started on that

but he was there
some Jordanian 19 year old dumbass
who now lives in Italy Texas
loaded up a van with
dirt, which he thought was fertilizer
like Timothy McVeigh
that the FBI had been working with him
for months and planned this with him
he drove that van
into my husband’s office building
into the bank parking
and park in the guest parking I use whenever I visit
he had pulled out the parking ticket
just like I do
he had parked the car
just like I do
but he walked out of the parking garage to the street
unlike me
I usually that take the elevator up to the top floor

this man
jack ass
shit for brains
has a cell phone to
"detonate” the truck of shit
he is to place a call on this cell phone
to a special number which will detonate
this bomb
and kill all the innocent
people of this building
my husband included
because there is a Wells Fargo
mortgage banking office there
woo hoo
like he would be taking down the whole national bank chain

well when he dials the phone
he actually was calling the FBI
so they knew he tried to detonate
and they could arrest him
they did
and kept all of this a secret
the building security did not know it was going on
the local police did not know it was going on
nobody but the 3 FBI officers
and then the swat teams
and the reporters
and the news
and the media
but not until 5:00
when most of the offices were closed
and people like my husband were long gone

my husband hears the news after 10 pm
from friends who saw it on the news
we laugh it off
we can hardly believe it

so, when I heard the news tonight
that he was there while this was happening
I immediately felt like a bad wife
I just let him go to work this morning
like I always do
I was not worried for his safety
and other people were

then he found out more info
as the day went on
that it had happened at 10 am the day before
he was there
but the FBI kept it a secret
they wanted to have all the information
before they made it public
they didn’t want to notify the building
finding out about the incident
before all the details were known
I am guessing
and assuming
(a thinking error I know)
that one reason may have been
to get all the occupants out
before the story unfolds
so there is not a mad rush out of the building
and then someone does get hurt

I thought
what would I do
if something were to happen to him
if we were on the phone
and all of a sudden
just gone

I would pick up my girls
we would pack only the necessities
and move
to a small town
near a beach
or near the mountains
or near nature
not just some shopping mall

we would open a fashion store for my middlest
she could work there and know what to buy
we would sponsor all my littlest sports teams
because she always wants to be part of a team
she runs up and down the field, court, tracks smiling
and in this shop
we would have a coffee shop
where music would play
and Karen would be in charge of that
and have guitar song sessions at night
where we could serve wine
and that would make me happy

I would miss some things
well, my husband of course,
I would miss the starbucks coffee I like to buy
already made, instead of doing it myself
I would miss being able to run into a
jumbo grocery store and buy a week’s or possibly
a month’s worth of supplies in a matter of minutes

but I wouldn’t miss the traffic
the city shit
the gossip
the construction
the highways
the snobs
the stares, glares and looks of others judging
I wouldn’t miss the stress

the constant anxiety
the lack of sleep
the worries of bills from a large house
or a private school
the guilt parties
the pity parties
the fundraising parties
that can be fun, or can be a beating

what would I miss
besides sleeping next to a snoring man the rest of my life
(and I do mean that in a good way, I would much rather have him there
snoring than not having him beside me at all)
my friends

my wine could tide me over for a bit
maybe I wouldn’t need the xanax to help me sleep
or any of the other drugs
for headaches or other hurts

but friends
to laugh with
to cry with
to tell funny stories with
to have wine with
to have too much wine with
and need a ride home
to have too many apple martinis
and barf on a sidewalk café
at one of those Starbucks that I would miss

to gripe to
to listen to
whose smiles could make me smile
whose laughter can make me want to pee in my pants
whose heartbreak is my heartbreak
whose sorrows I will cry with
and who victories I would celebrate with
and whose divorces I would dance about

as much as I would want to make a life easier for my children
I don’t know if I could make mine so lonely

Monday, September 14, 2009


I loved when their eyes were all googly
and went cross eyed when they were born
I loved their smell
I loved the way that they sucked the bottle
or my breast

how they would just rock in my arms
I loved the nighttime feedings when it was so quiet
and it was just me and the baby

maybe that is why I still enjoy the late nights
it reminds me of having newborns

I was with the girls all day
every day
I taught preschool when they were little
so even when I was working
I was still with them

My husband
he was so happy having daughters
I was scared
I wanted boys

mother daughter relationships can be so complicated
I wanted to be able to talk with my girls
we had a daughter who struggled with
depression and anxiety every day

she held so much in
then exploded at home
we didn’t know how much she was hurting
we wanted to understand
but she was so complicated
and she was worried we would stop loving her

how could we stop loving her
we made her
we birthed her
she was our first born
she was the one who made us a family

we will always love her
we wanted to do right
but we didn’t know how
we tried to keep her safe
we let her try new things

but one camp in Colorado almost ruined her
she was never the same after that
we tried so hard to save her
but we couldn’t

three girls
who would have thought
he loved it
he said he could kiss them all the time
and nobody would think it was weird

he taught them about sports
he watched tv with them
he didn’t like the newborns
but I did
oh, I even loved when they cried

we both enjoy our daughters
we see something special
even if we see different things
we know
it is wonderful

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's the little things

walking with the dog
seeing a picture
being in the kitchen
listening to rain

driving by her school
during the day
when the kids are out playing sports
when carpool is starting in the morning
when the cars are lining up to pick them up
when I see then drive off

trying to make dinner
seeing the other sisters
hearing the phone ringing

looking into my purse and seeing her favorite candy
seeing a t-shirt I think she would like
hearing a song I know she does like
a tv show in the background
a video game in a commercial
a bookstore
any book
any written word

so many little things add up
to make me miss her more
and scared for her return

it has been so long since she left now
will be all be okay when she gets back?
will we start off normally and crumble later?
will she freak out when she arrives home?
will we all walk on eggshells?

will we know if this has all been worth it?
can we be able to tell
right away
or after weeks
or months

it is the little things that make me miss her
hearing her voice again
so sad that they took 3 phone days
and turned them into 2
most parents are fine with it
the nurse says
well i'm not
I want my daughter home
I want to talk to her as often as I can
I miss her
I need her
I want to comfort her

I can barely walk upstairs
even though her room is at the end of the hall
I can barely get out of bed
take a shower
brush my hair
anything that takes effort
wears me out
because she isn't here

getting mail for her
a magazine being delivered
for her
or just the cover I think she would like
even finding the balls of hair
she would pick off her head
they used to annoy me
now when I see them
I think of her
and remember she has been here
and try to remember
that she is coming back
just not soon enough for me

Saturday, September 12, 2009

15 years later

I laid on my bed and cried today

15 years ago today
my middle daughter was born
but at that time
she was just “baby”

Karen was less than 2
But she still didn’t talk much
She could say baby

And she loved her baby so much
She wanted to show her off
She always wanted to make sure that
“Baby too” was going with us
She was such a good big sister

Then the baby started crawling
started walking
started talking
many things that Karen was still working on herself

the baby started taking her toys
her dolls
her books
and pulling her hair
her pretty curls
were such easy targets
for those chubby little hands

Baby knew how to piss her sister off
she kept doing it
after awhile
Karen realized
that she didn’t need that “baby”
and then
pretty soon
there was a new baby
and that original baby became
“the middlest”
and because the middlest was taught
how to be a good big sister
she showed her “baby” all the wonderful things
that her big sister taught her

the oldest
the middlest
the youngest
became our names

because the middlest needed a place too
always so concerned for the middlest
after that whole
Jan Brady fiasco
everyone worried about the middle one

but, the middlest would be fine
it was the oldest who was not sure where to fit in
she was not the new baby’s big sister
the middlest took that spot
and she was not the middlest big sister anymore
because now the middlest didn’t need one
she liked being the older one
and having someone new to boss around

so Karen
the oldest
stayed alone
most of the time

fights broke out between the 3
the middlest and the youngest
against the oldest
the oldest felt she never won
she stopped fighting
or she fought so hard
she won
at the expense of others

about 6 weeks ago now
it was at the expense of herself
her mother
her father
and the middlest

she was taken away
by the police to a mental health center
then placed at a residential treatment center

things had not always gone according to her plan
she has not liked all the rules
some of the people
some staff
other kids
phone time
on I could go

something magical has happened
the youngest has been acting up to the middlest
and the middlest realized that she
actually needed a big sister
after all
during this absence
the middlest and the oldest
have been talking
on the phone
it is a start
a very good start
for both of them
one that makes me cry

the two of them talked
about their lives
about their situations
and appreciated each other’s differences
they listened
without resentment
with real understanding

on Bethany’s, the middlest’s, birthday
15 years after
they became sisters
they discovered the joy of one another

now, I can lay anywhere
and think of this and cry
tears of joy

Friday, September 11, 2009


We have experienced different types of visits now to
See Karen
Flying in for a couple of hours with grandparents
Driving in to be able to take her to dinner
Waking up early the next day to have breakfast
with her at the residential treatment center

Phone conference calls
In town visits
Therapy sessions in the therapists office
And some on the phone
phone conference calls with psychologists here
psychiatrists there
all these doctors together

We are so lucky to have a dad who is a pilot
The ability to fly to see her and it takes
Less than half the time it takes to fly
we don't want to take advantage
but it sure is nice
and that Rayviator pilot
usually wants an excuse to go somewhere
although he did say
he would much rather fly to
College Station than Austin
too bad we didn't find a facility there

we are lucky the place is even drivable
3 hours
it is not fun
but it is manageable
we get to pass by our camp
going both ways
exit 318
I always see it
and it can make me smile
I wish I could pop in
see the sunset over the lake
while at the outside chapel
one of my very favorite sites in the whole world

I can't imagine
having to fly to see your child
having to plan that weeks in advance
having to worry about the weather
could keep me from seeing or talking to my daughter
I can't imagine having to go out only once a month
or less even
when you couldn't talk or see your child for 3 months
the worry
the anxiety
the thoughts that would continue in my head
I have enough problems with the hours that go by
the lonely hours I worry about her

One friday
My husband and I went down
to Meridell again for a therapy session with Karen and her therapist.

After changing her doctor
the new doctor had been doing
more extensive tests to determine issues with Karen
although she had scored "normal" on her original brain scan
the new doc wanted to recheck it.

we found out her new brain scan
showed some abnormalities
Karen's therapists actually said that this was good
because it explains why therapy alone can not help her
her brain is out of rhythm
because of this "cerebral dysrhythmia"
her depression is a symptom, rather than an ailment.

So, the doctor is going to raise her medication
and the therapist will be working on her to help Karen
learn better thinking strategies
try to break the habits
she has made in the last 16 years of dysfunctional thinking
this is not going to be easy for any of us
because our entire family
has been meshed in back habits too

She got a pass to leave campus
we went to dinner on Friday night
got her back in time for some evening activity
she was glad to be there.

and to sleep back at the treatment center
but then we were able to
take her to breakfast on Saturday morning

On saturday
we got her back in time to go to the cafeteria for lunch
we walked her there
and then the last 20 minutes of our visit was not very satisfying
she didn't like that meal,
and was bothered she couldn't get the vegetarian option

During these passes
we were told to have goals
work on some of these new therapy strategies
when she got upset by the happenings in the cafeteria
she got bothered by me reminding her about
"thinking errors"
she ended up going into one of her emotional storms
telling me to leave her alone
that I am obnoxious
that she didn't love me
that she wanted me to get out of there.
it was not a pleasant experience
but none of the staff was close to us
to observe what happened.

during that visit
98% of it was fabulous
even though
the last 20 minutes
reminded us of the long road ahead
We are lucky
about twice a week we have seen Karen
dinners out have become more frequent
her sisters have visited too
it was so good
Karen and I went to dinner at the house
of a college friend of mine
that was priceless
a homecooked
steak dinner
being with new people
not getting too anxious
not getting depressed
and being able to play the guitar with the dad

when she had breakfast with her sisters
they fought
and she could ignore it

we decided to have a spa time
a massage time
a very relaxing time that she definitely enjoyed
as did I
I could go back now

She even made the decision
that she wanted to go to temple for services
somewhere different
but something similiar
and she wanted to do that
I was so proud
her dad went with her
and she got to stay in the hotel for the first time
she was thrilled

we do look forward
when the other girls
her father
and I go back down
and Karen gets to stay with us
in a hotel room
it is not like home
but it will be as close as we can get
to try to make this all work again
to talk about her feelings
to talk about our feelings
to apologize and forgive
and to move on

and then sleep soundly that night
I am not sure how soundly
because if we are all in one room
the snoring from both of the parents
might keep everyone awake

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


not fair
not right
not making this any easier

watching my child
red faced
and angry
lips curled
knives dodging out of her eyes

hating her situation
hating her scenario

thinking the rules are stupid
being “effing” bored
thinking some people are hypocrites

but she still has so far to go
she says she will be okay at home
but she won't
she says she did not realize some
“thinking errors” that to me were so obvious

wanting an easy answer
there is no easy answer

she must work hard
she has to commit
she has to open up her true feelings
for her doctor
for her therapist
for her teachers
I think
they can tell she is holding back

the more uncomfortable she is
the more she is showing her true self

now not being able to shave in the shower
I understand that frustration
having to only shave with an electric razor
in a hallway
in a t-shirt
trying to do it under a t-shirt
with no mirror
must feel awkward

but they have to be safe
I have to know she is safe
or I won’t be able to sleep

she must take drugs to sleep now
so do I

I can’t even cook dinner anymore
it brings me to tears
there is only 4 of us
we have someone missing
it is not right
it sucks
I want her home

but I don’t want her home
until she is ready
if she comes home too early
and falls apart
I am scared she will feel like a failure
and then be even worse then when this started

she now says the doctors and therapists and nurses
“lied” from her first place
they told her most of the patients are out within
2 to 6 weeks
she will probably be there for over 6 weeks

has she known anyone to be there less yet?
has she met anyone who was only there for 2?
has she met girls who were there for 8 months?
and that scared the shit out of her
8 months
she screamed that first night on the phone
both her dad and I crumbled in tears too
we didn't want her gone that long

but now we see how much she needs it
she still needs it
she is getting better
we can't rush it
she can't rush it
it will get here
but, just not soon enough

Saturday, September 5, 2009

8 days


my youth group summer camp
used to be for 8days
this may surprise you
the event was called
classy yes
but I was shocked and surprised
how much could happen in such
a short time

this was not the experience
we had when we first went to visit Karen
after her first 8 days
at Meridell

not at all
First of all

we all went to Meridell for our 10 am appointment with our daughter's therapist
for the record
when we dropped Karen off
the week before
we got to meet her therapist
a teacher
some nurses on her ward
the intake director
and some business people
we did not get to meet her doctor
so I left him a message last Friday that we would be there on Thursday
then this past Tuesday
when I called after hours to the ward to ask a nurse how Karen's day went
the nurse said the doctor had upped Karen's medication
(not changed it, just increased it)
so I guess a phone call to us
was not necessary?

so I called and left him another message
asking him to call me
or have someone call me
just to let me know if we would be seeing him
or talking to him on Thursday

so, weds night
when we were in austin
and my husband and I realized
that we still had not heard from him
I left voicemail #3 on his line
wanting to know about Karen
her plan
her meds
and if we would be seeing him or talking to him

back again to the point
we get to Meridell
we spoke with the other 2 girls about all of this
Bethany was still very apprehensive about seeing Karen
since the last time they had been together
Karen was out of control and had hit her
I told Bethany that I was so scared too
I was scared that Karen was resenting us
I was scared that Bethany would never forgive Karen
and I was scared if Bethany did not see Karen, then Karen wouldn't know how much Betsy loved her

Bethany said she would see her
but would not hug her
and, if Karen was out of control,
then Bethany would not see her
good enough for me

so we were inside the waiting room
the therapist came alone
we explained the family situation
the girls liked the therapist, then my husband and I went off to meet with her alone

we told her how upset we were that the doctor had not called us back
I asked if she had heard from the doctor, and she had not
so we told her how we called him
we spoke about Karen's treatment so far
we spoke about our daughter was doing well
how she had given our little girl "homework" that most girls don't get for weeks
but that ours was intelligent enough to do it

because Karen is on the neuropsychiatric unit
they had to do a QEEG
but we had heard they had to repeat it
because it came back normal
and for her to have a neuro issue, it needed to be "abnormal"
although this doctor upped her meds as if it was
and was waiting for confirmation that the new QEEG would show
some abnormalities

the doctor called while we were in there
he said he wanted to talk to us at 11
the therapist said she would stay with us and he would come to her office
we talked more about Karen
we got emotional, about her progress
about her sisters, about the family
about how scary our home can be
the doctor comes in at 11
he walks in and says something about being sorry he didn't call back
I stayed calm
I just wanted to hear what he had to say
my husband let him know that we were not happy about his lack of response
I asked him about the messages I left
he started talking about her progress
but made some comment that it had only been a week
we talked about her depression
he then asked if she had ever had any times if elation
of happy episodes
I said no
surprised by this question
because this is something that had been asked by many doctors before
he said that is what Karen said
then I asked
have you read her history?
no he answers
he said he had not been given her chart
I was shocked!
I was outraged
I went ape shit,
My husband and I spoke in sections at this point
questions and comments
so you are treating her without knowing her past medications
her past therapies
her doctors notes
her reactions
you didn't ask for her chart?
what have you been doing for 8 days??

he said
he wasn't the one to do her original intake
because he was out of town
so that doctor probably has her file
yes, but, that was over a week ago
can't you ask the doctor for it?
he responded that it is not that easy

then my husband,
my smart busines minded husband
asked him why he had not taken the time to find her file
to ask for it
or look for it himself
he then asked
are you just too busy?

the doctor said that
he is
he has 31 patients
and some are sicker than our daughter
he just told us that he was too busy for our daughter
and that she is not sick enough for him to worry about
he made a comment about an emergency
I told him that she is our emergency

I saw stars
I felt steam coming out of my ears
we trusted the institution to do the right thing
for Karen
for us
for our daughter
for our family
I just could not see straight
at that point
the therapist told us
we needed a break
the doctor then left the room
I was sobbing
howling at that point
we wasted a week
I thought to myself
and probably screamed through my sobs
a week of therapy
a week of money,
a week of our daughter's life
making her miserable
hating it
causing her to possibly hate us
because we sent her there
there was nothing to do to console me
I said I needed to speak to someone about him
the therapist made phone calls
she paced the hallways
she got us in to see the CEO
when we left to go to that woman's office
our little girl
our daughter
our pride and joy
spied us
she was so happy to see us
I was a big blubbery mess
and could only blow her a kiss
I was still crying
we both told her we loved her
we knew she was on her way to get the new QEEG done

My husband ran into that asshole dr
Dr Byron Stone
the douche
he ripped him a new asshole as I walked by
I called him an asshole to the CEO's assistant
then we walked into the CEO's office
and relayed what just happened to us
she is not a doctor
only a businesswoman
my brilliant husband
knew that
the smart man,
he told her that this situation needed to be rectified
or he would be writing letters to Dr Joel Holiner
medical director of Green Oaks
who sends patients to Meridell
who helped send our daughter there
who recomended this insitution
and to Dr Graham Emslie
Karen's psychiatrist
who is nationally known in research about medications for adolscents
and also head of child psychiatry
at Children's hospital in Dallas
to tell them to never refer another patient to the facility
because of this treatment
to our daughter
and to us
to our whole family
and then he looked at her name tag
it said Universal Heath Services Inc
the parent company of Meridell
he could write them also
to tell them just how we were treated
and how we would expect a refund

the woman gave some lip service
and that is what jmy husband said
it was lip service
then my wonderful partner said he wanted Karen with a new doctor
that we were coming back on Sunday
and he wanted it done by then
I swung my head around
and said-Sunday?
*I* want it done today
I would not leave the facility
until I knew that Karen had a new doctor
or I was taking her home

The CEO said that it is highly unusual
to change doctors
I told her I didn't care
she said she couldn't make that decision alone
she needed to speak to Dr Stone
and the Facility Medical Director
I said we'd wait,
I was sitting there ready for her to get on the phone
but then the therapist took us
we found our daughter
she saw her sisters,
My husband and I went with the therapist
and Karen to talk for a bit
then the 5 of us
our family
our broken little family
who was trying to heal
we all went together to lunch in the cafeteria
the food was gross
but the girls had fun together!
Karen got a coke with Lucy from the vending machine
Bethany got cheez its
she wouldn't get a drink
because the cups were styrofoam
and she is trying to be very green
a vegetarian too
but she'll eat fish at least
the therapist came back
she told us they were meeting
she said when we were done to go to the family visiting area
we had a package in the car for Karen
Daddy went to get it
I took the girls
to a little room in the visiting area
we laughed that it looked like a police interrogation room
Daddy returned
we gave her some t-shirts
we bought her in florida,
new orleans
and wal mart
it was a good time

then we went back up the administration
to see what we could find out
at this point, it was about 1:30
we needed to leave at 2:00
to get to Bethany's hair cut appointment
she was starting high school the next day
well, Bethany started whining
we told her it would work out
the therapist said that she was waiting for the medical director to come talk with us

the doctor showed up
so my husband and I went with the doctor to the therapist's office
thus letting Karen, Bethany and Lucy sit alone for awhile
which scared me
it had not been done in a looooong time

we went in to talk to him
we told him the story about Dr Stone
the sad fucking awful story about that man
how upset we were
how disappointed we were
how we trusted this environment
and our daughter was mistreated

he listened
he asked a lot of questions
and then he explained the other unit at Meridell
it is called the Bunkhouse
and it is more social and peer driven
it would be harder for someone like Karen
because she would have to open up and trust others
but since her QEEG had been normal
it did make more sense

we were never given a choice when we applied her
we were told because of her aggression
that she had to be placed in the neuropsych unit.
doc said,
given her history
it did make sense then
but now they know more

the therapist felt it was a good move for our Karen
then they told us
they had actually been considering it anyway
(so we made it happen sooner)
good news for us
Karen actually had a "friend" from Green Oaks who was in that unit
we wanted to know more
we knew
we had to ask who would be her doctor
and the medical director said
he would
he would do more tests than the neuropsych dept
he would do more behavior tests
and the rorshak (you know, the ink blots etc)
and other scene description that shows a lot of insight into their thinking

he then asked if we trusted them enough to make this change
we said we wanted to keep her same therapist
and as long as dr stone was not near her
we were willing to try

we all got up
shook hands
and then went out to get our daughter
we brought her back to the office
we explained the situation
she was excited
she heard they had more privileges
she was excited to see her "friend"
she had heard good things about bunkhouse
she was EXCITED!

we left her with lots of hugs and kisses
even from her sister Bethany
who had said she would not do it
I had tears in my eyes

we did get to talk to her that night
she sounded tired
but good
now she has 3 roommates
but her friend was in trouble and couldn't be talked to
she had a Goodbye Group therapy with her old unit
and a Welcome Group therapy in her new unit
she said the new unit was more welcoming
and she said the girls were more around her age and nicer

we couldn't have asked
for anything better
at that time
sleep would actually arrive that night.