Tag Archives: special needs teens

A backpack of one’s own

9 Jun

“That’s mine!” I stated with some resignation mixed with frustration. Because once again, Maura nabbed something I bought for myself and claimed it as hers.

This is an ongoing problem. Maura doesn’t differentiate between the stuff that is hers, and the stuff she wants to be hers – to her, it should all be hers. I buy myself new shoes? She’s trying them on. I get a maxi skirt at Target? She’s wearing it before I’m done unloading the car. I spend three months searching for a good backpack for myself to haul my writing gear in because she took the last backpack I bought? She’s got it stuffed with tutus and on her back without me even realizing she’s taken it from the place I thought I had hidden away.

It’s not just my stuff. She gleans from everyone. Collin was missing his wallet. We started searching. I found Miriam’s wallet in one of Maura’s backpacks before finding Collin’s in another of Maura’s backpacks. Sean was missing keys on a lanyard. Maura had them. Josh didn’t even know when Maura nabbed $120 in cash from his bag. No, that one, I got an email from Maura’s teacher with “So Maura brought in a Dooney & Burke purse with $120 in it. I’ve locked it in a cabinet until you can come retrieve it.”

The purse came from the thrift shop. I’ve yet to use it because every time I turn around, it’s in Maura’s room.

It’s frustrating, and something that we’re still trying to teach her, to make her understand. Our stuff is our stuff, even if she wants it. Other people’s stuff is other people’s stuff, even if she wants it. Just because she wants it doesn’t mean she can claim it as her own.

But she doesn’t get this. Which is why, as Maura and I were leaving my friend’s house, I searched her backpack. And found two things that didn’t belong to Maura. Once home, I found two more things that belonged to my friend in Maura’s backpack. It was disappointing – because Maura choose to steal books when I know my friend has a fantastic jewelry collection. Luckily, this friend also has a fantastic sense of humor and applauded Maura in her choice of books (an art history book and “The Agony and the Ecstasy”).

It’s not easy though when you live with this every day. Every day, she’s swiping a sibling’s possession, sometimes one they need, like their wallet or their cell phone. Maura has two of her own wallets, but she wants her siblings. She wants to take Miriam’s sketchbook, even though I have given Maura her own notebooks. She wants my legal pad full of notes, even though she has her own legal pad. We can provide her with things, but she wants more, she wants the new stuff that comes in. She has little self-control over it at times.

Which is why, despite owning several backpacks of her own, Maura last night swiped my new backpack again. Even after I explained that it was mine, and she understood that explanation enough to be unhappy about it. I didn’t see her swipe my backpack, Josh found it tucked away in her room this morning. He quickly hid it while she was in the bathroom and made her choose one of her own backpacks.

I don’t know if this is a phase or not, but even if it is a phase, I am braced for the fact that it is a long-term phase. Maura goes through phases slowly, so this compulsion to take other people’s stuff? Could last years. Some days, I’m okay with that. Other days, it’s just really tiring.

But for now, I’m just going to stake this one claim on this one backpack I bought for myself.



I got up the nerve to clean Maura’s room and now I hate everything

3 Jun

Maura, bless her heart, is the world’s messiest kid. You may think you have the messiest kid, but you don’t. It’s Maura. Maura wins the title.

Granted, I’m pretty sure Maura also has hoarding issues. I don’t even joke about that. She loves stuff. Loves getting new stuff. Loves her old stuff.

So basically, cleaning her room is a covert operation that involves shoveling and muttering curse words while saying “Why is this in here? Why am I even asking why this is in here?”

Maura’s lucky that I’m not a Type A person. I don’t need everything in its place. I am not a minimalist. I can live with some clutter. But I also believe in not living with fire hazards and having a path to the door in case of said fire. I also do not want to wade through some room.

Last week, I got a bug up my butt to sort out the master closet. This snowballed, and it went from sorting the master closet (which had become the catch-all for random things) to cleaning out the laundry room and catching up on laundry that had been piled up in there, which turned into sorting out the linen closet because we’d just been shoving stuff in there, which led to piles of clean laundry in the back room – a room that is supposed to be a calm place for adults and where I write. It’s now a giant pile of clean and mostly folded laundry.

Most of that laundry is Maura’s.

And I realized I couldn’t put Maura’s laundry away until I cleaned her room. Because her room was piles of dolls and ponies and laundry and books.

After days of procrastinating and having no where quiet and calm to sit, I went in there today.

After an hour of working in her room, I now hate everything and it doesn’t really look any neater.

And now I have more laundry to do. Because even though I know she didn’t actually wear those sweaters that were thrown on the floor and walked over, I have to wash them again, and find a better place to store her winter clothes. The shelf in the closet isn’t a good place. She can reach it.

Josh suggested I just get rid of some stuff. While I agree with the theory, it’s not something I can do today. Because Maura is here. When I was cleaning out the master closet, she stood next to me, breathing heavy, fingers twitching, wanting to grab the stuff and run with it. Even though it wasn’t her stuff. Because girlfriend has a problem when it comes to stuff. She loves it. She lurrrrrrves it. She must have it all.

The thing is – I won’t ever be able to get rid of enough stuff to make Maura’s room…well…roomy. Because I am aware that Maura is aware of all her stuff. I know which dolls are her friends, her favorites. We have a herd of Build-a-Bear My Little Ponies – and she loves them all. She likes to have sets of dolls. We have a flock of penguins that have lived with us since preschool, flew on the plane to Ireland and back. It’s the dolls that take up the most room, the most space, but they are also the most loved and most played with.

Maura also has a love affair with backpacks. She has, oh, seven? Ten? I don’t really know because she’ll claim other people’s old backpacks as her own. And a couple of my purses. And the camera backpack I bought myself. And some lunchboxes, which are almost never used because she buys lunch. But if we need them, we have them.

She also, being a teenager, loves clothes. Loves. She’s a regular 14 year old clothes horse. A good day for her is going to Target, getting a Starbuck’s, and a new dress. Or new shoes. Or both. She has zero problems stealing clothes from other family members (she has a penchant for Dad’s soccer jerseys.) The staff at school have figured this out so deliberately brought in clothes for Maura – after okaying it with me. She comes home in a new outfit every so often, much to the bus driver’s amusement. And considering Maura can go through three to five outfit changes a day, well, maybe it’s helpful to have so many clothes. Right?

Maura has also started a book collection. She’s discovered graphic novels and we have a comic book store in the mall by our house, so that’s a match made in heaven for Maura. She can get Powerpuff and My Little Pony graphic novels and it’s a good time.

So really, my job is to do the impossible and make as much of her dolls and ponies and backpacks and clothes fit into her room. So she can then get all the dolls and clothes back out again. So I can clean them all up again. So she can get them all out again. And so on, and so forth, world without end, amen.

Okay, so maybe I don’t really hate everything. I just hate having to clean it all up.



Just a smattering of all the ponies


%d bloggers like this: