Bloggy Moms

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Spreading Awareness at the Local Mall

This is how I spread awareness at my local fancy mall store.  I changed the names of all of the people and the name of our city but not the name of the store.

Sent: Monday, August 18, 2014
To: Bridgeford Store Manager

Subject: Children's Shoe Dept. Experience

Ms. Trout,
I wanted to let you know about two incidents that happened to my 10 year old daughter and I while shopping at your store on Saturday, August 16, 2014.
The first incident occurred as we were exiting the second floor elevators. My daughter was struggling to break a plastic tag from some hand sanitizer that she had purchased elsewhere a few hours previously. Gabby, who is cc'd in this email, noticed what was happening and told her to come with her so that she could cut the tag off. I followed closely behind as most moms would. What happened next was remarkable but not for a store like yours where we know you strive for excellent customer service. The department that Gabby took us to was Individualist. My daughter, Princess, wanted Gabby to try out her new hand sanitizer. Gabby agreed to try it and declared it to be the best smelling hand sanitizer ever. Then my daughter shared it with the rest of the salesladies in that department. Two things really stood out about our encounter there: 1) Not one lady turned her down. They all oohed and ahhed along with my daughter. 2) I do not shop in that department and my daughter is not old enough to but that didn't seem to matter. It was about Nordstrom customers getting the Nordstrom experience.
Before I share the next incident I wanted to share a little something about my daughter. No one can tell this because it may not seem so glaringly obvious but my daughter suffers from multiple disabilities. The three most prominent ones are Bipolar Disorder, ADHD and PDD-NOS, a mild form of Autism. Last year at this time she had four hospital stays at several area behavioral hospitals. I am happy to report that we have seen incredible stability in her since October. She still has her moments though when things become overwhelming.
After getting some lunch and trying on shoes at another store in the mall, we returned to Nordstrom to purchase shoes there for my daughter. She had asked to return to Nordstrom because, "We always find the shoes I like there." Luckily for us the children's shoe department was not as busy as it had been a few hours previously. An older lady with blond hair greeted us. She had helped us on a few occasions prior to this. She'd always been super patient with my daughter who gets easily distracted and has sensory issues which can make finding the perfect pair of comfy shoes a challenge. She could see that we were still looking so she said that she'd be back to check on us in a few minutes. When we finally chose a few pairs to try on, she was still in the back. Another young saleslady wearing a black fedora hat, came over to us and asked us if she could help us. I informed her that we were looking for the blond lady but she said it would be OK if she helped us. Well it wasn't. Shortly after my daughter started to try on the shoes, the blond saleslady came out. She came right over to me and said something like, "I thought I was going to help you. I just went in the back for a few minutes." As you can imagine I was perplexed as to how to handle this tricky situation. Since my daughter was so far having no issues and I did not want to cause a scene, we just carried on. Truthfully I almost left your store right then. I did not like being put in the position that I was in. The only reason why I did not was because Princess seemed to be doing well and appeared unaware of the whole situation. After Princess decided on a pair of shoes, we paid for them and headed straight to your customer service department to speak to someone about this.
Imagine my surprise and delight when Gabby was paged and arrived within a few minutes. During our entire encounter a few hours previous she never once told us that she was the acting store manager. It was not important to her. She just wanted to help us out. Well I told her what about what you have just read here. She apologized for my unpleasant experience. She said that I should not have been put in the middle of that situation. She informed me that she would let children's shoe department manager know about the incident.
One thing that Gabby and I chatted about was that when my daughter and I had gone to another shoe store before coming back to Nordstrom, the salespeople there were not concerned with commission. It was about customer service. If my daughter had liked the way a pair of their shoes had felt, we would have purchased from them. After my experience at your store on Saturday, I'll be hesitant to try again but I will because I know that everyone has an off day.
I have been a loyal customer for years. I remember when the Bridgeford Mall was built and I used to ride my bike to it as a young teenager. I am hopeful that you'll hire more people like Gabby and foster all the things that she is doing right and less of what we experienced in the children's shoe department.
I may be reached at the above email address if needed. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Mrs. Princess Momma

This was the response I received no freebies or discounts but an apology nonetheless.

August 19, 2014
Good Afternoon Mrs. Princess Momma,

How awful your experience was. First, I want to extend my most sincere apologies to you. We failed miserably in not treating you with the customer service you expect and deserve while you were in our Kid's Shoes department, an experience that should be fun and welcoming from the very beginning to the end.  I offer no excuses as to why my sales associates treated you in such a manner and please know, I take this very seriously and will meet with each member working that day.  This is not acceptable and is not how we wish for anyone's experience to be while shopping in our store. For this to happen, again, I am very sorry.

I do feel very thankful for your encounter with Gabby Cool, our Jewelry Manager and Acting Store Manager.  I am happy to hear that she was able to give you and your daughter the experience you deserve while being in our store. While we would not expect anything less from any of our managers at Nordstrom, it is nice to hear the level of appreciation from you.  To further learn of the sentimental value how it made your daughter feels makes her act of genuine kindness all the more exceptional.  I will recognize Gabby for her efforts. She is certainly a shining example of what we stand for and we will recognize and thank her for her continued customer service.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your entire experience with us. While I cannot change the experience you had, I will ensure this does not happen in the future.  You could have just as easily not brought his to our attention and I would never know. Thank you for caring enough to share with me so that I can correct these behaviors.

Again, my sincere apologies to you.  My manager of Kid's Shoes is copied on this communication. I would like her to follow up with you as well in the next few days.


Katy Trout
Store Manager

 A side note-One of the main reasons we stayed is that Princess was oblivious to much of what happened. She was having a fabulous day and was super cooperative. Had we left the store without the shoes, it may have been tricky to get her to come back.  I realized a few days later that she didn’t even ask for the traditional balloon that this department hands out. Maybe she did notice I was a bit stressed and chose not to ask for it.
Side note 2- I chose to tell the manager about my daughter’s dx’s to show her and her staff that my child had hidden disabilities. They need to be aware of these so that they know the impact their store can potentially have on my daughter and I. Perhaps they’ll recognize the subtle signs and give a little extra TLC and patience to them. 
I'll post an update if I hear back from the Kids' Shoe manager. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

My Knight in Shining Armor Rides a Bicycle Some Days

We still have our rough days but thankfully they are not nearly as bad as they were last year at this time.  I've also got a knight in shining armor err flip flops who rescues his damsels when they are in distress.
It went down something like this. Princess' BFF was going to come over for a playdate but before she did, she called me to see if it was OK for her to bring her new bike so that she could show it to Princess. Then they could ride bikes together at our local neighborhood park. I of course agreed to it because I thought it'd be fun and besides Princess is still a little shaky on her bike and could use the practice.
When the BFF arrived, I sat the girls down and told them the game plan for the day. Then I let them play rock, paper, scissors to decide what they were going to do first. Jewel, the BFF, of course wanted to go bike riding but Princess had been wanting to go in the pool all day. I could have given Princess what she wanted in the first place and probably saved myself a lot of headache, but I want her to know the world does not revolve around her. You already know who won the game of chance,  Jewel. So that meant that Princess had to put on some clothes over her swim suit and put on her tennies. Silly me thought I'd just use the bathroom while Princess was getting ready. Wrong! In three minutes time,  Jewel had gotten bored and gone into the garage to check on her bike. Princess left her room to check on  Jewel. They ended up getting in a little tiff because Princess told  Jewel she shouldn't be in the garage unless I was there. Jewel told Princess that she should be getting dressed. I quickly finished my business with lightening speed and came out to see what the ruckus was. I sent Princess to her room and Jewel to the Family Room so that I could talk to each girl privately. Princess told her version of the story while she looked for her missing shoe which was under the dog's bed. Then I went in to talk with Jewel. She told me that Princess had threatened to be aggressive with her. Grr! Old habits are hard to break. I was just about to take Jewel home since obviously this playdate was a bust when Princess asked for another chance. For her part she did finish getting ready pretty quickly and she did apologize.
So we left to go to the park for just a little bit as the sun already starting to get low in the horizon. The girls did well at the park even though Princess got frustrated with her bike after only a short while.
While we were there, the ice cream truck came by so the girls wanted a treat but I had not brought any money with me. Then just as we were leaving the park who should arrive on his bike wearing flip flops, no helmet but with money in his pocket but my husband. He'd heard the ice cream truck and came like a knight in shining armor on his noble steed to save the damsels in distress. Of course by this time the truck of deliciousness had left. Being the valiant knight that he is, he took off into the sunset looking for the truck while the girls and I made our way back to the castle. Patience won the day and the girls got their ice cream but Princess was not happy because I would not let her get the one she wanted. She had gotten it a few times before and it had just gone to waste. She chose another equally delicious treat but she was upset that she didn't get her first choice. She stomped off into the house and into her room. She was in tears, wretched ugly tears. I told her that since she was so upset, it was best that I took her friend home. She amazingly pulled it together so that we could all go swimming.
Right before we were going to go swimming, I was trying to figure out how I was going to make dinner since I could not watch the girls swim while I cooked. Usually my husband BBQ's something on these days but he was working on a project for a class he is taking. I didn't have to worry long because my knight once again came to the rescue. He said he'd go pick up a pizza while we swam.
Swimming went remarkably well. Pizza went even better. Princess got out a lot sooner that Jewel and I so she went in to watch TV while she ate her dinner.
After I got out, I helped the girls to keep moving along in changing out of suits, hanging up towels- you get the picture. Princess had just about fallen asleep in front of the TV before she changed into her night gown so it really should have come as no surprise when my knight appeared with my daughter's wet swim suit declaring that he'd been asked to rinse it out right before our little one crashed on her bed. I guess she knows about his knightly prowess as well.
These are the days when I am so glad that I am not doing this parenting gig alone since my husband stayed home with Princess while I took the BFF home.
Yes we had our bumps Saturday but Princess rebounded rather quickly so I didn't have to end the playdate early. For that I am grateful. I am also thankful for my knight who rescued his damsels not once but three times no make that four.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Oh But She Seems So Normal

When I hear the above statement, sometimes it angers me but other times it makes me happy because it means that Princess is so stable that others don't see anything wrong. Sometimes I want to shout and scream about all of the unspeakable things my family has had to endure. Society wants a cure for cancer. I want a cure for mental illness.
Lest anyone think that I am exaggerating about my daughter's problems, I'm going to give you a glimpse into a day into our life.
July 21, 2013 did not start out like any other day. It was like many other days that summer. From almost the minute Princess woke up, she was ornery and uncooperative. Her birthday party had been the day before. She was still upset that only one person came to her party. Early on my husband and I decided to stay home from church because we sensed that things would go south rather quickly.
Around 11:00 I had to call the county's crisis line to ask someone to come out to evaluate Princess as she was becoming hostile, angry and aggressive. Shortly before this she had been chasing after me and attacking me with her stick pony. Anyone who says to just pull it out of her hands has no idea how strong a child fueled with anger and  adrenaline can get. I once had a police officer tell me that we just needed to spank Princess and she'd be fine.
Anyway back to the story. The crisis counselor told me that she'd have someone call us back. They knew us well because we were having a lot of problems with Princess. They had just closed the file on our case because they couldn't fix it in three weeks. One of their specialists had made the statment that our house was chaotic and that we let Princess "rule the roost." Again merely a parenting issue.
Sorry I keep getting side tracked but this is important history to  understand what happened next.
The head psychiatrist who oversaw our whole county's mental health crisis line called me back to say that they would not be coming out to our house that day. I said, " What if I get a black eye or a broken arm?" He replied that they still would not come out.
 Unfortunately some medicine that I had given Princess to calm her down was very short acting so it wore off after only a couple of hours.
During this time I had been texting some friends and family asking for prayer. They were people who I knew we could count on. One of them asked if she and her husband could come over to see us to give us a breather and offer support. After some discussion, my husband and I decided to agree to letting them come over. 
About 30 minutes later Clarice and Richard came over. Clarice had brought a  birthday present for Princess. Princess and I  oohed and ahhed over it while the guys were outside taking a breather on our back patio. Princess became agitated because she wanted to show Clarice the new doll she had just gotten for her birthday but Clarice and I were talking so she had to wait. For the first time ever, she attacked someone other than my husband or I. Clarice was left with scratches on her arms.  Princess got distracted by the swing outside and asked to go play on it. I agreed and all three of us went outside. Princess was only on the swing a few minutes before she left our property and started running barefoot down the street. I was certain she was headed for her friends house a few blocks away. I tried calling the child's mother while Clarice went looking for our husbands.
Before I knew it the friend's mother was calling me as I was calling her. She called me very concerned because Princess was hiding under a bed  and had made some alarming statements.
My husband got in our car hoping to get her and put her in it because he knew she would not willingly walk back with him.  After Princess refused to get in our car,  I had no other choice but to call the police even if I didn't think they could help us.
Twenty minutes later the police had still not arrived and by this time Princess had run off again. We really were not sure where she went.
I called the police again and was told that they were busy with other calls. Finally they arrived after my second call. By this time Princess was now back on our street but was in different neighbor's house hiding under the bed in the master bedroom.
Our neighbor, Jim and his wife, Betty came outside to talk to us. About the time the police finally arrived, Princess was on the move again. She moved into the neighbor's tent trailer so that is where the police officer talked with her. When he came over to the front yard where we were all gathered, he said that Princess recognized there was a problem and agreed to go to the ER.
Princess wanted to ride with Clarice and I so the guys took our car and followed us. By this time we were starving and Princess had fallen asleep in the back seat so we grabbed some fast food and proceeded to the ER. Once we got to the ER, Princess was an angel. This is how many ER's see kids like mine. Then they are assessed and sent home again. What the doctors don't realize is that children are rapid cyclers so it would just be a matter of time before she would rage again.
After triage, we were sent to a holding room in the ER and sent our dear friends on their way. Previously when Princess had been in the ER it was party time with TV and ice cream. What kid wouldn't want to show their best side in that situation? This time I told Princess there would be no TV. This set her off. Before I knew it lots of ER staff were in the room trying to subdue my child. It was not a pretty sight. Well after that the staff were pretty much on our side. They told us that since they had witnessed a full bown rage for themselves that they would advocate for us with the crisis team assessor who would make the call whether or not to admit her to a behavioral hospital. I was still not convinced since we had been at the ER  four times in the last month and had been sent home all four times. This time when the evaluator came, she read the reports,  and saw my daughter had been subdued, she decided not to interview my daughter as had been their previous practice. She felt there was enough evidence to admit her. Now the difficult task was finding a bed for her. If they were unable to find her a bed, she'd have to stay in the ER for up to three days until one was found.  Even though we live in surburbia, there are only 13 beds available for kids my daughter's age. After many phone calls and hours later, we were told that a bed had been found almost an hour away in another county. By the time we got my daughter checked in it was 6 a.m. the next day. My husband and I were exhausted.
I wish I could tell you that after that hospital stay, they found the right medications to bring her to stability. What happened instead was that, she had three more hospital stays over the next two months. She would be in a hospital for a week to ten days, come home for a few days, become unsafe again and have to be admitted again. Thankfully, my daughter's psychiatrist is forward thinking and wanted  Princess to try the new wonder drug but this wasn't until October.
In mid October we began to see a beautiful child emerge. We knew she was there all along but the fog of mental illness was clouding her.
This summer Princess has had two major successful events. She had an awesome birthday party and a fantastic time at VBS (Think Sunday School Summer Camp for a week.) She's also doing pretty normal things like going to the beach and a baseball game.
We may not be going on any fabulous vacation any time soon but I'll take what we have over the trips to  behavioral hospitals anytime.
I know all to well that Princess' current medicine regimen could stop working at any given moment. I am also aware the teen years are coming. They bring additional challenges to kids with mental illness because their hormones get out of sorts which in turn affects the balance in brain chemistry. For today I choose to not look to far into the future. For today I choose to focus on all of the blessings that stability brings into our lives.
The next time someone says that my child is typical, I just may thank them for that compliment but in my heart, I know how hard all of us have worked to get Princess to that point.
*Please note: All of the names mentioned here are fictitious but the people and events are not.