by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
It is the patterns of behavior which eventually persuade you something very wrong is going on.
Most kids do things which are wrong on occasion. They will fib about were the last ice cream went or pretend they are sick when it is time for for school. You can tell they know this was wrong, though.
They slink, evade eye contact, look scared when you find out.
A psychopathic child is different. My oldest daughter's face was sullen and then angry when she was caught in a lie. I could see these emotions flicker across her face but did not understand these were indicators that no conscience existed behind those beautiful brown eyes.
Getting what she wanted also meant only immediate gratification. By the time she was 13 my parents, who raised her, had bought her 1,000 Breyer horses and three original Cabbage Patch dolls, the ones personally autographed by Xavier Roberts.
The rest of the family, the ones who did not have to cope with Morgan, then Carolyn, day to day, were stunned when these gifts were paraded for us during visits. We were raised believing we needed to work.
Mother, who had watched little Carolyn for me while I was in college after the short and traumatic marriage which produced her, begged me to allow her and Father to raise her. They adopted her legally when she was 12.
Later, after Mother died Father and I had some frank discussions about what had gone on. I discovered Mother was very much under Carolyn's thumb from the time she was very small. The kid got away with a lot because she could be charming and cute. But this gloss of charm evaporated when she did not get her way. Smiles turned instantly to tantrums and screaming.
I had found out about this when she came to live with me when she was 19.
She lied about attending college, instead starting a sexual relationship with a rock star which went on for nine years. She lied about working. She lied about injuries in a car accident telling us she could no longer work when she was routinely riding horses.
And she just loved to get other people to distrust each other and fight. Later, I realized this is what brought the look of sublime happiness to her face.
Lies, sexual promiscuity, acting as if she, and she alone, was the only one who mattered. Any manipulation which got her what she wanted obviously pleased her, even when later she was found out. I found out about the sex from my sister, with whom she had been living. Anne called and told me, bluntly, she was not my problem. I had a tough time believing this cute little girl had seduced one of her her clients.
This and a shallowness which made a puddle seem deep, were all there. But the family did not understand what we were seeing.
Obviously, we should have been talking frankly much sooner. Transparency is essential to survival if you are coping with a disordered child.
Don't make this mistake.