Saturday, 25 February 2017

Detective Mummy & the Scar

Imagine you read a script of a TV show...

Genre: Family drama

  • Detective Mummy (trying to do the right thing, that is therapeutically approach the situation and treat the root of the problem instead of the symptoms presented on the surface.)
  • Goofs (6 years old son, who settled in really well, but as you will see his roots run very shallow and a smallest of wind can throw him back to his previous life; usually the 'OK child')
  • Snoops (7 years old son, surprisingly in this episode he is the 'good son' for once, partially because whenever his brother is the 'problem child', his sibling jealousy catapults him into angel mode
  • Dad (not so therapeutic parent, in this episode he is struggling with cold)

Act I.
Scene 1: Friday morning, Dad, Snoops, Goofs getting ready to leave the house and go to Sports Club

Dad: 'Are we ready to go? Goofs, put your jumper on.'
Goofs: 'I am red hot, I don't want to!' 
Dad: 'Are you sure? It's really cold.'
Goofs: 'Yes, I am sure!'
Off they go. The three walk to the location of the holiday club; it's a 10-20 min walk, depending on everybody's mood.

35 min later, Dad back in the house

Det. Mummy: 'How did it go?'
Dad: 'Goofs had a massive meltdown and was crying all the way. He was upset that we didn't take the car like we did yesterday.'
Det. Mummy: 'Did you explain the only reason you drove them yesterday was because you were sick and it was pouring down rain and sleet?'
Dad: 'No, not really. I told him we can walk like we usually do.'

Scene 2: Flashback to yesterday afternoon

Snoops: 'Mummy, tomorrow we will have a water fight in Sports Club so we need an extra set of clothing.'
Det. Mummy: 'Wow, I am quite surprised since it's still winter and it will be cold tomorrow.'
Snoops: 'That's OK, I don't want to get wet anyway so I will just stay inside.'
Goofs: 'Oh, if Snoops is not doing it, I don't want to do it either!'
Det. Mummy: 'I think you boys are making the right decision. I am very proud of both of you!'

Scene 3: back to Friday afternoon, Det. Mummy walking to pick the kids up from Sports Club

Det. Mummy: 'Goofs, why are you so wet?'
Goofs: (crying in the room, wearing only his shorts and t-shirt.) 'I am so cold!'
Det. Mummy: 'Where is your jacket? And your jumper? And your sweat pants?'
Goofs: 'I am so cold!'
Snoops: 'Look Mummy, I am dry, just like you told me to be! I am the clever one, right? Goofs made the wrong decision and joined in the water fight. His jacket is soaking wet, just like his sweat pants! He is very silly, right, Mummy?'
Det. Mummy: (ignoring his need to reinforce his brother is silly, she turns to Goofs) 'Where is your jumper?'
Snoops: (crying very loud now) 'I didn't bring any!' 
Det. Mummy: 'Well, that wasn't very clever of you, was it? Unfortunately I didn't bring the car so we have to walk home.'
Snoops starts a massive meltdown that culminates in him calling Det. Mummy names. She knows the best way to get the situation under control is to put the jacket onto Snoops (it's only a bit damp on the inside) and put the extra (and dry) sweat pants on him as fast as she can with one hand, while holding the disregulated child with the other hand.)

The walk home is a misery for all 3. Det. Mummy tries to give attention to Snoops who is extremely excited because he won an award in archery today, while ensuring Goofs keeps walking, who, for some reason decided that he is so frozen he can't even move his legs.

Snoops: ' Jack said that and then I told him, just watch, and then the teacher said...' (fades into background)
Det. Mummy: 'Come on son, you can walk, your legs are fine. The sooner we get home the faster you can get a nice hot shower.'
Goofs: (not following them, but starts walking in the opposite direction) 'I hate you. I don't want to go to your stupid house ever again!'
Snoops: 'I am so proud of myself for winning the archery competition! Are you proud of me, Mummy?'
Det. Mummy: 'Yes, of course, I am very proud of you! Could you just stand here while I run after your brother?'

For the next ten minutes Det. Mummy is walking very fast. In her left hand she is holding the hand of happy Snoops who is skipping next to her. In her right hand she holds firmly the hand of a deeply unhappy Goofs, practically dragging him behind her while Goofs shouts at her non stop. Some strangers pass by and Goofs is desperate to gain their attention. Some must be parents themselves as they see it's a tantrum with no tears and the child is in no danger so they give a sympathetic look towards Det. Mummy and walk away.

Scene 4: we are inside the house, Goofs had a hot shower and he appears to be content as he sits at the dining room table

Det. Mummy: 'So, Goofs, you need to finish your reading homework and then we can all watch a film since it's Friday Family Film time and today you are choosing.'
Goofs: (shouting) 'No, never! I will never do that stupid book! It's not fair, why Snoops doesn't have any homework?'
Det. Mummy: (quietly) 'It's because he finished his last Friday. Come on, it's only a few pages left and then you can watch it. You know the rules; first the homework and then the movie!'

Goofs: (throws the book at her and continues shouting.) 'You are so stupid! I hate you! I hate your stupid house! I hate this stupid homework. I will not do it. I want to watch the film now!'
Det. Mummy: (starting to raise her voice) 'No, you will not. remember what happened to Snoops a few weeks ago? He had several warnings and he still didn't do it so sadly he missed the entire film. I wouldn't want you to have the same outcome...'

At this point Goofs attacks Det. Mummy with full force. She manages to get out of his way and puts her arms around him from behind, while he continues to shout insults at her.
Det. Mummy: 'I can see that this is very difficult for you. I understand that you feel it is not fair, but...'
In this moment Goofs wiggles himself out of the embrace with force. In the heat of the fight he breaks 3 of Det. Mummy's nails and as you would have it, one broken nail manages to scratch his arm. The tone of his shouting changes into panic and screaming.

Goofs: (in pain) 'You evil xxxx. You scratched me on purpose. I hate you even more than JaneDoe (birth mum's name).'
Det. Mummy: 'I am really really sorry. That was an accident! I...'
Goofs: (in panic mode now) 'Oh my god! I am bleeding! I'm going to die! You killed me!'
Det. Mummy: (feeling incredibly awful, but trying to show she is in control for the sake of the child and speaks in a calm voice) 'It's red, but it's not bleeding. You will not die.'
Goofs: 'No, I will never accept your apology! I hate you!'
Det. Mummy: 'I wonder if it would help the pain if we got your favourite Star Wars plaster on it...'
Det. Mummy (she starts to go to bathroom to get plasters). 'I am really sad you feel that way. I don't hate you, just the opposite. I love you very much!'

Goofs keeps his eyes closed so he doesn't have to look at her, but crawls closer to her, inch by inch until he is snuggled in safely in her arms. She sits down on the dining room floor, scoops him up like a baby. They remain in that position for the next 25 minutes until his sobbing stops. Fade to black...
End of Act I.

Act II:
Scene 1: same location, Det. Mummy and Goofs sitting on the floor, fish and chips in the oven starting to burn.

Det. Mummy: 'This feels really good, sitting here with mummy, her arms around you and she is keeping you safe.' (Goofs just nods quietly). 'I can see you are having lots of big feelings in your tummy right now.' (another nod) 'I wonder if you are really angry with me or with JaneDoe...' (silence) 'I wonder if your feeling cold earlier reminded you of your time with JaneDoe when she couldn't keep you safe and you felt really really scared around her...' (nodding returns) 'Maybe you weren't even angry with this mummy, but the other mummy?'
Goofs: (whispering, still not looking at her but looking at the scratch mark on his arm) 'No, I am angry with YOU! You hurt me on purpose! (and crying starts again)
Det. Mummy: 'No, you know it is not true. It was an accident and I apologised. I would never hurt you! This mummy can and will always keep you safe!' (he keeps focusing on the scar) 'I am wondering if you keep looking at the scratch mark because it helps you stay mad at me?'
Goofs: 'Yes! I still don't think I can forgive you...ever! You hurt me, just like JaneDoe did! Can I get that plaster now?' 

Scene 2: in the bathroom, selecting a couple of fun plasters, just to be safe.

Goofs: 'Well, I see there will be no bedtime story for me today.'
Det. Mummy: 'Hmm... Let me ask you this, do you think your bad afternoon has something to do with this assumption?'
Goofs: 'Actually, it was not just a bad afternoon, mummy. I had a bad day from the beginning!'
Det Mummy: (her brain working hard to detect the connections and then... the light bulb moment!) 'I am wondering if you behaved badly this morning because you were cold?' (he is nodding, so she continues her detective deduction work) 'I think you assumed daddy will drive you like he did a day before so you thought you don't need a jumper. (more nodding and a quick look at her face) 'But he made you walk and then you felt cold without a jumper, but perhaps you felt upset with yourself but didn't know how to say it or get out of this situation so you panicked and started to 'act out' and...'
Goof: 'yes, and so my whole day was ruined, I didn't win in archery, but then they had the water fight and I knew I don't have extra clothes...'
Det. Mummy: '...but it looked like fun so you joined in because you assumed it's Friday and daddy usually picks you up with the car on Fridays...'
Goofs: 'yes, but then you came and you said we have to walk and...' (starts sobbing again.) 

Det. Mummy envelopes him in her arms again and starts making funny faces in the mirror. Moments later Goofs joins in and soon they are having a good time together.
Det. Mummy: 'I am so sorry I scratched you. Can you please forgive me?'
Goofs: (still laughing) 'Oh, I forgave you a long time ago!'
Det. Mummy: 'Oh, thank you. You say it was a long time ago?'
Goofs: 'Of course, mummy! I just didn't forgive you when I was mad. When I am happy I always forgive you!'
Det. Mummy: 'That's good to hear. Maybe you can also apologise to me...' 
Goofs: (turns around so he can face her) 'I am really sorry for my bad behaviour and for calling you stupid! You are my cleverestest mummy and I love you very much!'
Det. Mummy: 'I love you too, my son!' 
Goofs: 'So, can I go and watch the end of the film?'
Det. Mummy: 'Sadly no, remember? You still haven't done your homework.'
Goofs: 'You know what? It's actually fine with me. I got to sit with you all evening, it's way better than a film!'

Det. Mummy smiles back at him, but it's a bitter sweet smile. Discipline is important. Therapeutic parenting is even more important. Having consequences for bad behaviour is needed. Unconditional love and attunement is needed even more! According to Dan Hughes children who experienced loss and trauma need to experience comfort and joy to heal. In a twisted way of events, accidentally hurting Goofs turned out to be the reason for him to experience comfort afterwards. Yes, it was horrible as my hurting him fit into his distorted view of mothers and the fact that they hurt him. Yes, the scratch mark will be visible for a few days, but if his behaviour this morning is any indication, (when he saw me his very first words to me were 'Mummy, I am so sorry for my bad behaviour yesterday, I love you very much!) I think we are both on the mend...

The End 


  1. This is the toughest but most important part of therapeutic parenting: consistent discipline. Nice job!

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes, very hard, but you can see the fruits- especially with Goofs, he is learning so fast, such a joy to see his transformation! :)

  3. Tough to go through, but hang on to the rewarding moments.