As you all know, we’ve had a lot of different issues with Angela. We’ve been able to curb a lot of her bad habits, but her number habit that she can not stop herself from doing is: Don’t touch things that don’t belong to you.
Angela has two huge obsessions in life, well three if you include Barney. Stupid Barney. I despise the company and people that came up with him and spit on their feet. Angela normally has what we call a “Character obsession.” Before she moved in with us, it started with the normal Dora the explorer, Diego, and Max and Ruby. She kept her love for those characters for a pretty good while, until Netflix made the idiotic move to remove Nick Jr shows from their on demand selection. From there, here love for Strawberry Shortcake and Cat in the Hat blossomed. We were so cool with her new found loves. She would watch them over and over again. However, it did get to a point to where we wanted to punch Strawberry Shortcake in the face. We heard that theme song so many times, we now randomly sing it…with a despise and a slight smile on our face.
Her other two main passions in life: plastic bags and anything made of paper (including cardboard boxes).
When she first moved in with us, we noticed it. She had everything of hers organized into different types of plastic bags of all sorts of colors. She had her shoes, clothes, toys, and everything she owned sorted out into different bags all around her, including paper. LOTS of papers: paper bags, boxes from pasta, boxes from toys, boxes from mail, printer paper, coloring pages, old mail, junk mail, little pieces of paper that were special characters on packages that she ripped off from boxes & crayon boxes, and the list goes on and on. It took a little time, but we finally understood why she was doing it. She was doing it to keep her stuff around, to keep her stuff organized, and to keep her stuff protected.
After about 6 months, she no longer had a need to keep her things in plastic bags. She finally understood that her stuff was going to be kept “safe”, and that she was home…so she could unpack and relax. However, to this day, she can still not let go of her usage of plastic bags to hold her certain precious things. So we’ve allowed her to use Ziploc bags. This way it’s cleaner, more organized, and (above all) we can see what she’s hoarding in them.
With everything that Angela has, and trust me when I tell you this: She does not have a real NEED for anything. She has everything she could ever want, plus usage of my super old iPad to watch her favorite shows on Netflix and Youtube. YET she still touches things that doesn’t belong to her without asking.
Don’t Touch Anything That Doesn’t Belong To You Without Asking.
This is the number Golden Rule in our home. Don’t take or touch anything that doesn’t belong to you without asking for permission.
Some days she totally understands and “gets” it, then there are the other days she goes straight into stealth ninja mode and will wind up with the whole house in her bed. Yes, Angela is a Ninja. She knows how to evade every single squeaky floor board, and won’t make a noise.
In our old apartment, Angela was staying in the finished basement that was the size of the whole apartment. We had a wooden staircase that led to the first floor. Those wooden steps were the most noisiest things that I have ever come across in my life. No matter how hard I tried, I would always make a noise. This is TOTALLY not true for Angela. She could walk up those stairs like a pro! It would take her a good 5-10 minutes to do it, but she would succeed! If she caught herself making a noise, she would cuss at herself, and walk back down…until she gathered up the courage to walk up those stairs again.
She is a pure master! Once she succeeded ascending the staircase, she would stalk the house for every single piece of paper, crayon, pen, pencil, and just about anything that she could take with her. If she was super gutsy, which she was often times than naught, she would make a couple of more trips.
We’ve tried everything that we could think of to help understand that this was not a good thing to do, and how we don’t take other people’s things. We tried:
- Punishment via taking away something for that she cherished
- Take ownership of her actions (This is something she is horrible with. Once she’s caught stealing something, she always blames everyone else. She never claims it. When it’s time to apologize, she does it eventually…in a week or a month.) 60-70% of the time, she will go into a melt down because of her being caught having something that wasn’t hers.
- God help me for saying this, but we even did it from the aspect of behavior that’s taught via Barney, Strawberry Shortcake, Dora the explorer, and her other favorite characters. We would ask her, “What did Barney teach you about _______?”, “Would Dora do that?”, etc.
- A Good Behavior chart. The chart actually helped out with a lot of bad habits of hers that we were able to break. At the end of the day, we would ask if she did certain behaviors. For each positive behavior she would get a sticker on her chart. She could then change in those stickers for a good from the goody box (filled with coloring books, crayons, markers, stickers, DVD’s, toys, and tons of other great stuff).
- We over exaggerated that phrases, “Stephen, can I borrow your tablet?”, “Yes David, thank you so much for asking to use my tablet.”
The craziest thing is that Angela would NOT touch any book, toy, or objects that were on the book shelf. If the items were just laying on a coffee table, floor, or just in a disarray somewhere…then they were (are) fair game to her brain. The bookshelves represent a system of order. As long as it’s organized and looks good, she won’t touch it. Ever. Her brain knows not to plunder through the items that are in an organized system of sorts.
All of this background leads to the current story of why Angela no longer has a bedroom door for her privacy.
Since we’ve moved into the new house, Angela has been testing the waters every chance she can, by trying out my different levels of patience and boundaries. I have been sure to put her in her place to let her know that rules are the still the same, and nothing has changed with the exception of her having her very own bedroom to call her own.
Our niece was still living with us, until recently when she moved back home. So we always had someone down stairs to keep an eye on things. She knows Aunt Angela’s ways all too well, as she has had the experience of stolen homework, notebooks, and other school supplies.
It Happened One Night…
Nothing happened the first night our niece was gone. In fact, we gave Angela a pep-talk about not going downstairs while people are asleep, to help keep her from getting into trouble. We told her that if we found out that she took anything that didn’t belong to her, then we would take her bedroom door off the hinges because we wouldn’t be able to trust her. We couldn’t allow her to have her privacy in her bedroom to hide things.
She promised that she wouldn’t.
She gave her word.
It was the second night that it happened, even after I gave her the same pep-talk of being good and not touching anything.
She has obviously had this mischievousness pent up inside of her brain, and she just couldn’t help herself. You’ll see what I mean in just a minute.
I woke up, and went along my usual routine in the morning. Angela came down for breakfast, and she said, “Bubba, you don’t have to worry about coming up to my room for the iPad to turn it on. I’ll just bring it down for you so you don’t have to walk up there to my room.”
That statement right there is a tell-tale sign that Angela did something. Angela will ask you to do a 1,001 and one things for her, and more often than not she asks them all in one breath. She doesn’t care about how many times you have to walk up and down those steps.
I simply stated that I had to go to my bedroom for something. So I snuck into her room, which is across from ours…and I saw her pot of gold. I saw junk mail hiding behind a few stuffed characters, 2 packets of loose leaf filler paper, black ink pens that she had opened, 2 notebooks, a pile of sticky notes (which has already tore into a million little pieces), a jacket that didn’t belong to her, and a few other odds and end pieces.
So, off the door came. The one things that we’ve always stayed committed to is to follow through with actions. If we say that we are going to do something, no matter how big or small, we do it. We follow through with it. This way she will always know that we do what we say, good or bad.
Of course, she didn’t take it very well.
She got caught, and as I mentioned before…when she gets caught, it’s never her fault for doing it.
We don’t know when we will put the door back up. We now have to work through this trust factor. Since the door came down a few days ago, she has snuck into my room and grabbed a bottle of vitamins one day, and my iPad charging cord today. Today she was banned from watching youtube, which is one of her favorite top things to do. Which of course, she called me a few lovely names. I quickly reminded her that I was allowing her to borrow my iPad, and that I would definitely watch how you spoke to me, or you’ll have nothing to watch your favorite shows on, “You should be thankful and happy that I’m allowing you to still use my iPad after how you’ve been speaking to me. So if I were you, I would quickly zip your lips, and go have a merry damn day.”
She said a few quick obscenities under her breath, and she agreed that it was definitely my iPad…and stormed off with her muttering words that I was trying to ignore. She was testing my patience all day. She was bound to find a piece of happiness, as I told her to. Good Lord, she was annoying as all get out. But that is another day, and another story.
I will say this, though: about an hour before eating supper, she came to me stating HOW much she loved me, and gleefully thanked me for letting her use my iPad.