I had to have surgery a week or so ago and was given Dr’s orders to not lift anything over the weight of a milk jug (5lbs). Are you kidding me? I’m a mom of a 4 year old with RAD! One of the MOST healing things that the parent can do for their RAD child is the holding technique. I’ve been doing this technique for quite some time now…..and my Dr. wants me to just up and “quit” doing this for 6 weeks!? I think NOT! How can I un-do all the trust-building that we’ve been doing by not holding him?
This was very evident this week when at first I was taking my Dr’s orders and not holding MM. He was in a downspiral all week….each day progressively getting worse and worse. I would do my “best” and sit on the couch and have MM climb into my lap and “hold” him in my lap….gosh it wasn’t the same at all….it didn’t feel that way to me, and I KNOW it didn’t to MM either. I finally gave in one day, he was having a particularly hard day, I sat down with him and asked him, “are you upset because mommy cannot hold you since my surgery?” Yes, was his tearful reply. I knew in that very moment….my surgeon may have known what was best for “me”…..but he sure as heck didn’t know what was best for my lil man. MM was regressing. He was hurting and crying out…..his acting out was a cry for help….for me to hold him. I will tell you this, I held my suffering child in my arms, no matter my pain….I’m secondary to him in my eyes…..for over an hour!! I cannot convey in words how healing those 60+ minutes were for us. But I’ll be danged if I’m going to let this hinder his healing. Not for a second.
MM can throw ’em with the best of them. The rages are so intense that he kicks, hits, screams, pushes me…..and all the stuff you’re probably familiar with already. I, with the help of much reading and talking to friends of kiddos who also have RAD, started using the holding technique. Now, there are different ways to do this people believe as I’ve noticed. Some people will put their arms over the childs (so the child cannot use as a weapon) and wrap their legs around their child’s legs (also, weapons of kicking) fromthe backside (to not have them headbutt the parent) all the while trying to “calm” the child while talking calmly and telling the child they are “safe”, and other such things. Now, while this may work well for some (usually the older kiddos too), I know it won’t work for my Munchkin Man (who’s still only 4 and weighs 33 lbs). I feel he needs to be able to look into my loving eyes and see and feel the love I have for him.
I hold him just as I would hold him for anything else. I’m telling you, it works for us. MM will be throwing a major meltdown, and it’s a struggle to get him in my arms, which tells me that he needs it even moreso. The more they fight it, the more they need it. I can even begin to tell that he wants it sometimes. He’ll be having a meltdown and will put his body up against mine as if he’s “saying” ‘please hold me, mommy. I need to feel safe right now!’ Anyways, I pick MM up and hold him, letting him see the love I have for him in my eyes. I speak in the calmest voice I can, telling him, “Shhhhh, it’s ok, now. I’ve got you. Shhhhhh. It’s ok. I’ve got you. You’re safe with mommy.” He will struggle for a bit, hitting, kicking, pushing me away from him, grunting, screaming. And then it happens……it just happens in an instant. He melts into my arms. He lays his head softly on my shoulder and I can feel him wrap his arms around my neck and he starts to play with my hair. Then, I know. I know he feels it. Safe for the moment. But the moments are just that….moments.
MM doesn’t trust us. Why should he? He has lived the first 18 months of his life in trauma. Trauma that I wouldn’t wish upon any child. To tell you the truth, we don’t know it all…..we most likely never will. And that is ok, I don’t have to know the details, I just have to know that my (our) son had to live it. Sad, very sad. It’s painful to look into my child’s eyes and see distrust and fear in all things (Oh my the fear…..I can go on and on about the fears). It pains me to know that MY CHILD is so fear-filled. I cry just thinking about it. The fear has caused him so much grief that he can not trust anyone…..not us, not anyone. The person who gave birth to him, he found couldn’t be trusted. The family whom he spent the first 18 months of his life with, they couldn’t be trusted either….so why should he trust us, even though we continually show him we CAN be trusted? He can’t let go of that fear just yet. It is his survival. It is the only way he knows how. It will take a lot of HARD work on all of our parts….to get MM through this. It will not happen in a year, not two, and maybe not three…..no time limit is set upon this…..it will happen when it does…..when MM feels it, when he knows trust is worthy. That we are worthy.
And until that day happens……I will hold my son in my arms and look deeply into his soul……..and let him know….he’s worthy too.
This is how I see us now……I’m guiding him into the warm “waters” and letting him know that it is ok, safe and even though it is scary…..we’ll go slowly….just look at it first. Then dip your toe in and feel it’s warmth. Know that it is not going to hurt. I’m holding his hand…..letting him know that I’m always there….guiding him and keeping him safe. I will never let go of his hand…gently holding and guiding. You notice the boy in the picture is holding a bucket….I see that as he wants to go and “play”…..but needs all my love and guidance to know and feel that he won’t get hurt again. And if he does……I will show him that I’m there to pick up the pieces…..and move forward…..always moving forward….two steps back sometimes…..but always moving forward is our goal.
Pieces of his heart……someday they will be whole again.
Blessings to you and your children…..