I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I play fast and loose with my grammar and I wanted to see if the app was up to the challenge. It was.
My daughter’s big doctor appointment was this week. We’re taking her to a therapist. My husband’s convinced that all of her crying, whining, drama and door slamming means she’s messed up. I’m more inclined to believe that she’s just dramatic, and a lot of that comes when my husband’s yelling at her. It could be that she’s bipolar, like her mama. That’s why we need someone to sort all of this out.
I’m hoping that when we see the therapist, she’ll tell my husband he can’t yell at the kids. We’ve discussed it many times. I told him how I felt scared and angry and hurt as a kid when my dad yelled. I told him my BFF got physically ill at the thought of her mom yelling. Not completely convinced, he was trying not to yell for a while, and he was doing pretty well. Instead of yelling twice or three times a day, the frequency was more like every three days, and that was huge. Lately, though, not so much. He’s pretty much back to his old ways, and he says things like “I had to yell at you because…” I’m hoping the therapist will blame all of my daughter’s drama on him.
The doctor’s office sent a long questionnaire for us to fill out before her evaluation. It named hundreds of behaviors, and we (I, because my husband believes that his job is just showing up) had to circle whether our daughter performed those behaviors never, sometimes or often. That part wasn’t so bad. There were only a few behaviors that I circled – yelling, frequent crying, calling herself names and sometimes hurting herself – but the rest didn’t apply. Not that the behaviors I circled were meaningless, but I got a much deeper appreciation of how normal she is. Too bad my husband didn’t fill out the paperwork. Maybe he’d be able to accept her more.
On the next page, there was a family history checklist. In it, there were social and psychiatric abnormalities, and then there was a column for “Mother, father, mother’s family (specify), father’s family (specify),” and you were supposed to check off where, in your kid’s background, these behaviors had surfaced.
As I went down the column, I checked “learning disabled” and “Mother’s family” because my half-brother has Down’s Syndrome. My daughter obviously doesn’t have Down’s, so no biggie. I read down the list. Bipolar disorder? Check — mother. Adolescent drug use? Check – mother. Juvenile delinquency? Check – mother. Suicide attempts? Check – mother. As I went down the list, I checked more and more stuff in my history and almost nothing in my husband’s. And I began to believe that my daughter’s problems weren’t the result of her dad yelling at all. They were burdens passed down from me. With all that in my background, was I setting my daughter up for a lifetime of struggle?
One of the main reasons we’re having her evaluated is that she does a lot of the same things I did as a kid, and since I am apparently so messed up, we wanted to make sure she never becomes a delinquent, or uses drugs, or attempts suicide, especially if she has something as treatable as a bipolar disorder. I can live with the idea that she’s got bipolar disorder – it’s hereditary insanity (I always wanted to work that in!) and, once diagnosed, very easy to live with. It’s the other stuff I worry about. Do they really think that what I did as a teenager will show up in my daughter? That’s something I really can’t live with.
So maybe her behavior’s my fault, or maybe it’s my husband’s, or maybe it’s something innate in one or both of us. Our (ok, my) greatest failure here is attempting to lay blame. What we need to do is focus on our daughter and do what we can to help her now. So we’ll accept the doctor’s assessment and do whatever she says. I hope that she can give us some good techniques to calm our daughter down when she runs off screaming and crying. Or maybe she’ll tell us our daughter is normal and my husband’s overreacting. Either way, we’ll see, and we’ll do our best to parent her.