Monday, October 24, 2011

There Are Days

I walked to the edge of the cliff today. In fact, I teetered on the edge all. damn. day. long. It's the cliff that I believe all caregivers are driven to by the frustration and challenges of providing care to someone who doesn't cooperate, or communicate or participate or any of the "ates" that make up our human existence.

I felt pretty crappy about it, too. Because that's what I do. I got mad at something Katie was doing. And I raised my voice. I scolded her even. 

And then I got upset at myself for getting frustrated with her. Which sort of pisses me off. Is it wrong of me to not want her to color so hard that crayon shavings fly off the page and onto her, covering her with a waxy, blue layer of crayon confetti? Waxy confetti that clings to everything in site and is nearly impossible to clean? She lifts up her shirt when she does this, so her entire torso is covered in the crap. 

I have standards and I know that she can follow the rules of our house. She knows how things are done, but she's been so used to being free to do whatever she wants, that it's often hard to get her to follow a new system. While I can't pinpoint a specific behavior or "Ah HA!" moment, I know there are times when she's trying to get back at me.

The thing is, I was smug. I thought I'd circumvented the whole issue by buying the twist-up crayons that have a crayon lead in them. That crayon is harder than normal crayons. You don't get the same coverage.

She showed me, though. She proved that crayon of all kind can be reduced to shavings of crayon confetti if one is committed and willing to break a few crayons along the way. 

I took the color books and crayons away until after lunch. She rewarded my discipline by pulling out several strands of hair. Too much hair. It's a whole other problem that can take months to heal. I'm definitely not willing to let her pull her hair out.

We're back to markers. I refuse, REFUSE, to clean up crayon mess, which would be surprising if you know that I'm not the pickiest of housekeepers. I can let my house be pretty dirty at times. Apparently, I found my line in the sand, because I'm unwilling to cross the crayon line. 

Markers are washable. Sure, she often looks like a Smurf when she's been using the blue markers for too long. She also looks like she's been on the losing end of a marker war. But markers are washable. They don't leave waxy remnants to show they were there. 

Not a great day, and while I probably should have started this blog by telling you what a wonderfully blessed adventure you're about to embark on, I just don't have it in me today to say such a thing. If you're a second generation care provider, you're in for one of the most thankless things you'll ever do.

The pay sucks. No one says thank you. You may get doors slammed in your face. You may be told that you're not liked and they want to go home. They may color themselves with crayons, or worse. It can be hell and there will be times you find yourself on a metaphorical cliff wondering how the hell you're going to hang on.

One of my friends, who deals with far more than I'll ever have to endure, told me today to build a shelter while I'm up here. It's going to be my new home for awhile. If I can, look around and I'll see that there are others up here with me, in their own shelters. Trying to hang on. Trying to survive the challenges that will define your new normal.




Crayon shavings on the torso
on the floor and on the porch-OH!
I REALLY hate them on the tile
around the toilet removes my smile.
Crayon shavings at the table
clean them, clean them, just not able.
Baseboard confetti from here to there
is that actually in your underwear?
Katie, Katie what a mess
crayon shavings cause distress.

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