The Unseen Clock and An Update


Originally written August 2011 when Sweetie 4
had been home just 5 months.


We have had such a smooth couple of weeks. Really…. everything has been surprisingly smooth!
In fact, yesterday when we went to the Library, Sweetie 4 was so cute because she was wanting me to look at each book to make sure it was ok for her to read.  This is a HUGE difference from 5 months ago when she first came and would say, “I can read what I want, why would you care!”  OR “I hate reading books, I don’t like libraries, I don’t like reading!”
YES…. MUCH has changed!
Now, she jumps into the car to go to the library and even created her own book bag from one of gramma’s old bags. She doesn’t just check out one book like before but lots of books! And she LOVES being at the library hunting for something new.
Last night, Sweetie 2 brought a book home that had something questionable in it. Sweetie 2 didn’t know it was in there, and she and Sweetie 4 were looking at it together. Sweetie 4 saw the material covering a ghost and magic spell and told Sweetie 2, “You need to show that one to Mama and see if it is ok!”
So, you can see we have come a LONG way!

Today however, when Sweetie 4 woke up, there was a different feel to her. She seemed “contemplative”, even though she was smiling.   I sensed there was something on her mind or there was something weighing on her emotions.
She seemed to struggle to day with bossiness.  And then, this afternoon, she  asked demanded that she be able to be alone in the bedroom that all 4 girls share.  Something in me said that she needed this time, so I asked her to be nice about it and I would think about it.  She was, and I did.  I decided to let her be alone in there and listen to her favorite CD by Phil Stacey.  I really like that guy’s music. 🙂

After about 30 minutes, I went in to check on her and she was laying on the floor, surrounded by her stuffed animals. They were not the stuffed animals she usually plays with, but ones she brought with her from before.  She just looked so little. She was sound asleep.

I carefully woke her, by rubbing her back. I asked her if she was ok, and she said yes. But I could feel her heart beat and it was FAST….. If you have not read “The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog” by Dr. Bruce Perry…I would highly recommend it.  In part of his book dealing with the Branch Dividian Children from the WACO disaster, he mentioned that the children were highly anxious, though their outward behavior didn’t show it. They were self controlled, but their heartbeats were beating VERY fast.

Sweetie 1 was very much like this for a few years.  Sweetie 4 was at first, and then hers slowed down.  But today, it was fast again.
You may be thinking, “does this crazy mother actually check her kid’s heart beats?”  The answer is yes. 🙂
It can be very telling.  It isn’t that scientific.  You can tell if somebody’s heart is beating as if they just finished running.

Sweetie 2 and 4  started to play together and then I saw Sweetie 2 coming out of the room upset. “She won’t let me play with my own doll!”
Hmmm. This hasn’t gone on for a long time.

So I called Sweetie 4. She didn’t come. I called her again. She didn’t come. I called her one last time and she came, angry. “WHY DO YOU KEEP CALLING ME?”
“Umm. When I call your name, I expect you to come. I kept calling you because you did NOT come.”
“Now, don’t speak to me disrespectfully!”  “Come and sit with me.”

She said, “Oh brother, were going to sit and rock and talk….. rolling her eyes.” But she came.

I asked her  if she knew what today was. She didn’t.  I told her today is our 5 month anniversary!
She smiled.  (melted a little bit)  🙂
Then, I asked her about the stuffed animals she picked to lay down with. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “They were from before”.  She said, “I can’t remember which family, but they were from before. ”
I asked her if she had a “feeling” like she would be moving or going?
She looked at me very puzzled and said, “Yes.”

I asked her, “Are you worried or scared?”  She said, yes.  Is that why you wanted to be alone and not play with anybody?  She said, “yes.”

I’m telling you, these poor kids who have suffered so much trauma bear silent burdens and are misunderstood so much!  Behaviors can be guides that tell us something is going on…. getting them OUT of the behavior, in a constructive way, is the hard part.

Because of Sweetie 4’s  AGE, it is so easy to discuss things with her. She understands so much more than a younger child would.

So, I let her know about a “hidden clock” within her brain.
“Let me tell you about a secret clock! We all have one! It holds our memories, and when we smell something, or hear something, or the weather changes, it reminds us of a memory we had from before.  Sometimes they are good, sometimes not good.”

She was intently listening by now. 🙂

I said, “You know you aren’t going anywhere, right? ” She said, yes.
“But your clock doesn’t know that. It is telling you the weather is HOT, and it is August, and that means you are:
1. leaving to a psych unit
2. leaving for respite care
BUT YOU AREN’T.   That is just what happened LAST year! 🙂
So, you need to reset your clock! Would you like to RESET it?”

“That means, give it a new memory to replace the one that is bothering you so much.”

She said “yes”!
We snuggled for a few more minutes and she began to relax and her heart beat went back down.
Her anxiousness left and she was back to normal….

So, the activity to reset the clock????
DADDY, Sweetie 1 and Sweetie 4 left about 1/2 an hour ago to take the BOAT on a test voyage!
She was so excited!  They aren’t going to be gone long, as this is family worship night, and the purpose is to make sure the motor is adjusted properly and the boat is lake worthy.   But Sweetie 4 has been longing to get that boat into the water.
It was God’s grace that on this anniversary, Sweetie 4 would have something positive and exciting with which to reset her clock! 🙂

Since writing this post in 2011, Sweetie 4 has been home almost 3 years.
That is not very long considering she is 14 now.
We have found that she has many anniversaries.  I would like to encourage ALL parents to keep a journal or blog, private or public. After cycling through our first year, and then going through our second and third years, I have been able to go back to my private blog when I felt an “anniversary” time had come and that unseen clock was ticking.

Some clues for when an emotional anniversary is occurring…..
1. Memories coming out from the past that do not include your family such as:
“In my other family we used to…”
“I remember eating xyz…. in my other family”
“When the weather was like this in Russia we would….”
“That reminds me of the time x happened and it was so scary!”
If you have written down behaviors that have occurred while a child is “reminiscing”
and document exactly what happened and how you responded to help your child,
then when something similar happens the next year, you will have a reference to refer too!
It is amazing how much I forget in a year’s time!
I need my notes to help me! 🙂

We have found that she has healed from some anniversaries, as they are fewer, but some still linger and will take much longer to heal from.
11/14ths of her life was pure chaos!
Putting your child’s life into a fraction is really helpful!
It puts perspective on how long of their life was spent somewhere else!
I have been able to use this idea with Sweetie 4, as she understands fractions quite well!
“You can’t even reduce your fraction!” 🙂
(of course the numerator is an  11, but we won’t mention that ) LOL

If we make ourselves available when our children’s behaviors seem “off” to us,
as in not the usual chaos or just not normal for them, we can REALLY progress in the area of trust and attachment!
Just being there to listen and understand can cause a child to open up about things they didn’t talk about before.
Be that safety net for your child!  Be the parent that they can come to and know that you will listen and not judge.
It is HARD sometimes, especially if behaviors have been hard, to open up and make ourselves vulnerable, but my oh my it is so worth it!
True Healing, TRULY takes place!

We had a recent morning where Sweetie Four had to be corrected over a certain behavior.
We spoke with her and asked her to redo something in an appropriate manner.
She did!
And Mike said, “I think we call that Pay Dirt!” LOL
(this is a phrase Karyn Purvis uses for success) 🙂

Comments warmly welcomed!


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