adoption, family

“Mad Dog Face”: Adventures in My Daughter’s Emotional Rollercoaster


There is a small girl with a big helmet on the lacrosse field, running through plays, sobbing uncontrollably. I’ve just made it to Lacrosse practice and my husband is coaching. He tells me that she has been crying the entire time. She won’t say why. Since she has been crying nonstop for the past two weeks, I suspect she doesn’t even know why.

The team is mostly full of boys. Extremely confused boys. They keep asking her, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you crying?” It’s obvious that they are genuinely perplexed and concerned but unsure of how to approach her. I don’t entirely blame them. I mean, she is loud and upset and clearly dripping boogers. She is also armed with a lacrosse stick. The ensuing conversation takes place:

Confused/concerned Little Boy: “Are you OK? Why do you keep crying?

Mary: “LEAVE ME ALONE!” (picture a lion roaring)

Offended Little Boy: “You don’t have to be a butt head about it!”

Offended Carl : “Don’t call my sister a butt head!”

Mary: “WAAAAHHHHH!!!!” (picture the wail of a siren)

And so on all through practice.

Since she is reacting this way over breakfast, dinner, bedtime, a broken nail, and a cat that “looked at her” I can only guess. She’s 9 years old now. Is it hormones? Please tell me that my 9-year-old child is not about to get her period.

Is it medication related? Is she missing her therapist who is on maternity leave? Did a cat really look at her?!?!?!! What is happening???!!!!

Luke saved the day. He told her to get her “mad dog” face on. “C’mon mad dog. Go scare some boys!” Since she was already scaring most of them away, the rest of practice went relatively smoothly for her. She was able to scare most of them away from the goal. Maybe we should let her do the wailing/sobbing/booger thing at games?

In the car on the way home she told me she was upset about her bio-mom. She told me that she couldn’t remember any good memories about her. She remembers getting hit with a belt, and getting taken from the home during a drug raid. She remembers her bio-mom drinking and partying or sleeping a lot. She tells me that her bio-mom had “poor parenting skills” and that she is mad about it. I tell her she is feeling anger mixed with grief over the loss of her bio-mom. I explain that Mary was loved by her first mother, even though her first mom made a lot of mistakes.

By the time we get home she is quiet. After her shower I hold her on my lap for a long while. I press my cheek against her cheek and we practice taking deep breaths together. At bedtime, I lay down next to her and hold her close until she falls asleep. The last thing she says to me is, “Mommy? I’m glad you’re here.”


**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.


8 thoughts on ““Mad Dog Face”: Adventures in My Daughter’s Emotional Rollercoaster

  1. emilythomas1 says:

    Oh my, I needed words for this! Thank you! What do we do with these precious girls, when we love them so much but cannot undo what they have endured already?!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Katie A. says:

    Wow, I’m honestly in awe that she has so many WORDS for what she’s feeling and thinking about. That sounds like something to celebrate… silver lining? Although for your sake, I hope it’s not hormones… 😉


    • Thank you, Katie. She’s been in a lot of therapy since coming home to us, so she has great skill in expressing her feelings. When we first met her she was selectively mute, believe it or not!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s