We had a plain old stir-fry for dinner, but I purchased (time not being sufficient to make) a very nice cake.
Just as Ilya was putting plates on the table for the cake, and making a little joke (which he so rarely, does - evident of his happy mood) of putting the entire cake on his plate.....I hear glass breaking in the kitchen, a glass falling into the sink. Innocently stupid me; I hadn't even noticed that the presentation of this cake was pulling a trigger. Sergei said, "That doesn't sound good." And it wasn't good. It wasn't an accident. It was the beginning of a couple of hours of really, really bad energy.
The first thing that I noticed, after obliviously attributing the shattered glass sound to an accident, was Anastasia going into the living room and pouring a Diet Coke on the carpet. Then she began to grab the various things in the room, pillows, books, etc., and throw them all over. Of course I left the table and went in there and did all I could do to defuse the bomb.
I'm not particularly astute or bright. I could tell this was birthday-related, and figured it was also probably a delayed reaction to reading all her paperwork from Russia. This is something she decided in therapy that she had to do, and her therapist agreed that Anastasia had the right to know everything there was to know. [By the grace of God her paperwork was not as bad as it might have been....lots of repetition, refrains almost - "mother known to be of bad reputation" "public drunkenness" "immoral lifestyle" "left without foodstuffs, or furniture" "not taken to the doctor to get inoculations or check ups" "not sent to kindergarten or given any education" "left to beg". After reading it she commented to me about her mother not "visiting or showing any interest in" her baby brother, but apart from that there wasn't much that Anastasia didn't already know and actually remember. However, I should have known there was a time bomb there.
She didn't know what to say, I guess. So, she had to show me what she felt. She grabbed the papers out of her notebook and tore them up and threw them around the living room. I made a few miss-steps because I recall at one point her threatening me if I said "anything bad about my mother!" But, later she expressed her anger that Ilya was cared for, Ilya was fed, but she wasn't, and got angry at me for suggesting that her mother did the best she could..... [no winning in this game]
At one point, she ran through the house grabbing photos of herself and tearing them up. Then she ran to the desk where a big envelope of all the kids photos are kept, and she did tear up one of Lydia; somehow I got them and hid them while she was doing that. She grabbed my arms and held me (I really didn't try to get away....just to look into her eyes and listen). Eventually (after at least an hour of hard work on my part coping with her anger and violence) she burst into tears and expressed her anger and grief.
Of course, feeling that Ilya was more fortunate than she was to begin with, taken to live with grandma and fed, seeing him presented with a birthday cake was way.too.much. It was interesting that for the first time her threats of retribution went past the poor souls who adopted her, to include going to Russia to find her family and make all their lives a "living hell". (About this time, I was envisioning buying her the ticket, frankly.)
One great difficulty that hangs over our child-management is that husband is a behaviorist and we never agree on how to handle Anastasia in these fits. Because his methods haven't worked, and mine often seem to (albeit delayed), he pretty much leaves me to it. But, if he had his way, would deal with the behavior (regardless of origin) and would put her in "time out" [like we have a padded room to hold her???]. This is what he says, anyway. He would give her punishments for this kind of behavior. I can't imagine what punishments we could give her, honestly. All she does for any sort of escape is watch TV. She is in bad shape at the moment, with no social life. She shows little interest in eating. But my husband has some idea that she "enjoys" this stuff (I think she is in hell during it, myself). In any case, he wants her to PAY.
To be fair, in most of my reading - even Karyn Purvis, there is some expectation that after the meltdown is over, the child will be expected to do some sort of reparation. While this seems reasonable, I have not had any luck with it. The next day can come; she can be more or less regulated again, but the moment I begin to touch on what occurred, I can see that she is filled with shame for what she did, and the shame threatens to throw her back where she was and launch a repeat..... She seems more able to re-visit the ugly place than do any sort of "re-do" or "reparation".
Am I doing something wrong, or is she too far gone? Or is my husband right? As regards this, I'm at a loss.
What I usually do is try and help her get through the fit via acceptance and curiosity, then the boil breaks, so to speak; she crumples in tears and grief and neediness and reveals the heart of the pain she is feeling. She is vulnerable; I try and give her comfort and a feeling of safety. That is the end.
Seems to me on some level, like she's suffered herself going through all that anger to the place of honesty and vulnerability. The process was its own punishment. I just can't really see why other "punishment" is necessary.....though reparation seems like a "nice" idea. I just can't see it happening, as it would require going back to that feeling of seeing herself as a nasty, bad, destructive person, from a place of more relative peace.
Also I forgive easily, and my forgiveness involves forgetting. Real forgetting. Maybe I don't want to "go back there" any more than she does....because I always feel as though she has moved forward, fought a demon, and is in a new place.
By the way, if you want to feel sorry for me.....when it was all over and, shaking and worn, I shuffled into the kitchen to get a piece of cake.....due to miscalculation, it..... was.... all.... gone.