There is a resistance movement in this house intent upon petty acts of sabotage just to show that the spirit of the people is alive and will not be beaten.
For instance, the resistance movement will pump large amounts of toothpaste down the sink, throw towels on the floor and knock the toilet roll holder over. Other acts of sabotage include wearing two pairs of socks, stealing and hiding freely available fruit, making banging noises at nighttime, constantly 'forgetting' to change the school reading book, telling us there is no homework when there is, hiding completed homework rather than hand it in, unbuckling seat-belts whilst the car is still in motion, wearing dirty clothes from the washing basket, asking for things that they then don't want, doing any task they are asked badly and/or after a tantrum, listening outside doors. All of this type of stuff mixed up in a fog of nonsense chatter and questions.
As Christine Moers says in this post:
SOME DAYS THEIR STUFF IS SO CONSTANT IT IS OUTNUMBERING OXYGEN MOLECULES!
Different adoption experts have a different take on the psychological roots of this behaviour and differing solutions. There is a sliding scale with some experts more on the 'be more empathetic' side of the and the others up at the other end towards the 'give firmer boundaries' end.
My own thoughts are that you can have both empathy and discipline working together. For instance:
I know your emotions are all wobbly right now because [insert random event that's unsettling them], but it is not acceptable to [insert unacceptable thing]. As a consequence of you doing that I'm afraid [insert a natural consequence of their unacceptable thing]. This is so that you learn [insert whatever it is you want them to learn].
Since I lost it with Daughter over the penguin bars for breakfast debacle, I have been Playful Loving Accepting Curious and Empathetic (PLACE) + Discipline like I was born to do it. And they have pushed and pushed and pushed. At one point I caught myself rummaging in the stinky kitchen bin looking for something I thought had been put in there unauthorised, and I said to myself YOU ARE LOSING YOUR MIND and then I found the thing I was looking for and suddenly I didn't know who was mad, them or me.
The thing is, I know that they have both been thrown by Daughter's residential and then a birthday in the family, so I've been trying really hard to help them. But their behaviours just kept getting more and more and so I didn't know if I needed more empathy or more boundaries because their didn't seem room for more of both!
In the end I sat the kids down and asked them about it. I said that I was really puzzled. That there were certain things that they knew they shouldn't do, that had been explained to them why they shouldn't do it, that consequences kept being given for doing it, and yet... they still kept doing it. Why?
But the thing is they are even more clueless as to why they do this stuff than I am. There is such chaos inside them, there's little room for reason or logic. They will tell me they do this stuff because they want to. When I ask why they don't do it at school, they will tell me because they don't want to get told off. When I point out that they get told off at home, and list all the privileges they've lost and stuff they've missed out on, they look at me with blank expressions that betray a desire for me to shut up so they can carry on watching telly.
Thing is, I'm not prepared to spend my time as a Mother rooting through bins, doing body searches, spot checks on rooms and locking things away. That's what Prison Guards do. I've got to ease up because with tackling the behaviours the way I've been tackling them, I'm not enjoying the children and I'm going to lose my mind.
So I'm changing tack slightly. A friend suggested that we don't have to tackle everything they do, but we should acknowledge to them that we've seen/discovered it. That seems to be the way forward. Rather than worrying about giving consequences to everything, I'm not going to sweat the small stuff, I'm just going to acknowledge it.
I do worry that that won't be enough. That it's somehow slack. A big part part of the problem is that I have this idea that I can fix this behaviour. And I worry that if I don't fix this behaviour now then they will grow into great big massive criminal type behaviours when they are teenagers.
But that is a hell of a lot of pressure to put on me and them at this stage, not to mention not necessarily true.
I can't let myself get bogged down in all their trauma crap anymore. It's not a happy place to be. I'm getting out and, you never know, the kids might follow me.