I have a TK and I have had one before. I did not want to admit that I will have to put my toe into these waters again. After all, you can't put a toe in -- once you are, in you are all wet.
What is a TK? ... THAT KID.
The first one I had ended up with an official diagnosis and two years of therapy. The professionals like to call it Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Do you know what RAD really is? Living with THAT KID. That kid that you just can't figure out. They lie, they steal, they scream... they scream.. oh they scream a lot. They manipulate. The funniest thing happens. You are steaming mad about all these crazy behaviors and then you are not sure. I mean is it really stealing? We are a family, living in one house, maybe TK just misunderstood the whole sharing thing.. maybe she just forgot to ask. Maybe you are the one at fault... maybe you just misunderstood... maybe you are not such a great mom. Before you know it you are living in the Topsy Turvy Kingdom, where you as the parent definitely aren't in charge of anything, everyone is always mad, or at best a little irritated and the THAT KID...is smiling!
After two years of therapy that ended a few years ago, I finally got ahold of this thing -- most of the time. I took charge, I stopped being angry and sometimes I just gave my little TK what she was asking for. If you want to kick, that is great! Give me ten good ones against the wall.
Parenting these children is like parenting the Strong Willed Child times 10. Their will is strong allright -- In fact I don't call it will, I call it steely resolve. My first welcome into the RAD parenting world was a lot of study. I read book after book on the Attachment cycle. Not to mention hours with the therapist. What I had to develop first was compassion -- real compassion for a child so mistreated and ignored that if That Kid doesn't feel in charge of the environment He/she literally feels as if they might die. To the TK this is a life or death struggle. It is likely that nobody was cuddly or lovely or nice in their first family. I heard a foster parent once describe it this way: "Why would my kid want to trust an adult when every one they have ever met has wiped their feet on him." Exactly.
My first That Kid and I, drove two hours one way for at least two years so that I could finally get it. The therapist always talked alone to me first, then later to my kid which I watched on a TV in the other room. As much as I wanted her to fix my kid, I believe she fixed me. I had to learn to be a different mom. That time I spent with the therapist by myself was gold. I will never forget being able to have someone listen to me and not think I was totally crazy.
One thing about these kids is that they really know how to work a room. No one outside the family ever sees any of these negative behaviors. It is very likely that even the Dad doesn't see many of them. Mommy begins to feel isolated and slightly crazy. Thank God my husband never doubted me and saw enough to keep me going. Thank God, we were able to find a good therapist.
One of my favorite phrases from the Bible is "In the course of time.." Things don't happen overnight, but really "in the course of time." Therein lies the story of Attachment. It doesn't happen at a therapists office, through a discipline measure or one great afternoon. It happens, In The Course of Time. The dailyness of life creates attachment. We laugh, we hug, we share, we cry, we argue, we struggle .... and then... finally...we love.
In the case of my first TK (RAD) kid. We made it. Healthy is happening. The strong little personality is still there, but That Kid is happy, whole and livin' instead of fighting. She cries, real tears, She laughs, genuinely. When that kid arrived her will was steel reinforced, but her little spirit was broke all to pieces.
Today I have another TK. Another struggling kid. I am not taking this one to a therapist, I am not seeking to have any further initials added to the name. I have been here before... The first day I began to open my eyes and see the same things again. Lying, stealing, food issues, crazy incessant chatter, constant control of a room. I began to hyperventilate and I just wanted to cry. This road is long and hard ...
I turned to my Bible and found my strength again. "In the Course of time.." we will attach truly. My faith is being sure of what I hope for and certain if what I do not see.(Hebrews 11:1). I lifted my eyes and pulled out my well-worn copy of Parenting the Hurt Child. I had to stop caring and fighting for things I thought were important. I say "hmm" a lot more instead of engaging in manipulative conversation. I stopped thinking about "age appropriate" and started moving on to what we are "ready for" again.
That Kid -- she's gonna make it... "in the course of time."