Even though I have had three biological children of my own, I am finding that parenting adopted children is nothing like parenting biological children in many, if not most, regards. Despite all the reading, classes, preparation, etc. and despite the 11 years I had put in the parenting department before they came home, there are some things that nothing can really prepare you for.
I'm always hesitant to share a lot on my blog. A lot of people in my "real" life read my blog, and I do feel concerned that things I could share on here could somehow intentionally create judgment of my children.
Adoption parenting has, and continues to be, a crash course in many departments for myself.
Wednesday night I found myself in a situation in which I drew upon information I read in another blog, and it helped me tremendously. So that was my catalyst in deciding to share some of these "harder" times with others. Maybe what I'll write may help someone else one day.
One of my sons was having a very difficult day on Wednesday. He was defiant and obstinate at school, and when I questioned him about it on the way home, he both refused to look at me or answer me.
Now, in our home, with our boys, we are "easing" into many expected rules and behavior. I don't want to overwhelm them with too much, so we focus on the "large" issues and then as we conquer those we add on new expectations and duties as the boys can handle them.
But two of the steadfast rules we have in our home are that when Mommy and Daddy are talking to you, you look at them. And when Mommy and Daddy ask you a question (we will use Kreyole to help communication), you answer them.
Now, both boys are fully able to function within and fulfill both rules. So it's not asking too much of either of them. And when they don't do this, they are "choosing" not to as a means of acting out, showing disrespect, etc.
So on Wednesday, this child chose not to look at me and not to answer. I don't feel time outs are a productive environment for either boy (when they are alienated physically from the family, it seems to amplify their "me versus the world" mentality and promotes worse behavior. So I give "time ins" where they hang out on a chair by Mommy in the kitchen, until they are ready to both look at me and discuss the issue at hand.
To my full surpise, this child became *very* phsyically agitated. He refused to sit, tried to kick the chair over, stand on the chair, and bite me when I got close to him.
Now, I know that this type of tantrum happens. I've read about others experiences with it, but this was a complete shock to me, because this has not yet happened in our home with this child.
Finally, he chose to sit quietly. I finished making dinner while he cooled down. I figured he would better answer and comply with a full belly, so I nicely asked him to please sit at the table for dinner.
I asked a number of times, nicely. I served the other children. But after 30 minutes, it was beyond obvious that he was being defiant by choice. So I informed him that if he was not going to choose to eat, he was going to choose to go to bed. I informed him that he had 3 more minutes to choose to sit down. I told him it was his last chance.
He still chose not to eat.
Now, I am a Polish woman married to a Guamanian man. Family meal time is central to our lives. Sending a child to bed without supper just about kills me. But being inconsistent kills me even more deeply.
So, with a deep breath, I announced that we were going upstairs to go to bed. I took the child by the hand and began walking towards the stairs.
This child went animal balistic. I have never seen anything like it in my 11 years of parenting. He scratched, clawed, and tried to bite me. He would noodle out, and I would go to pick him up. 3 times I was not quick enough and his foot got me square in the face.
I have NEVER been kicked by a child of mine. Well, maybe an attempt by a tantrumming 18 month old, but never by a child of this age.
I finally got the child to his room and into his bed. I left the room and went to sit down in my room. My heart was racing and the muscles in my forearms were literally balled up by the stress of having to hold onto him. I had tears of anger in my eyes. And I had no idea what to do. Suddenly, my mind turned to something I had read.
Maybe a year ago I read a blog post by an adopting mama whose son (the same age as mine) had a major, physical tantrum in a public place, which was a horrible experience for her. They got home and she took him in their rocking chair and rocked him. She cried and rocked him. She cried and told him she loved him.
At that moment, sitting on my bed, I felt zero love. Zero compassion. Zero anything except exhaustion and adrenaline (is it even possible to feel both at once?) This little child had been testing me constantly as of late and I just felt like with this horrible experience, I.was.done. for that night. All I wanted to do was have my husband come home and to flee the house.
But that post stuck in my mind. And I prayed. And I knew that even though I didn't even want to be in the same home with this little boy at that moment, I had to go to him.
So I did the thing that I wanted to do least at that moment. I went to him.
I picked him up. Held him. Told him I loved him. A lot. Told him I would always love him. No matter what. Told him that it was NOT okay to hit, kick and bite Mama. Ever. Never. But that I loved him no matter what. Always. That I was his Mama. He is my son. I told him that he is a precious, perfect child of Jesus. And that Jesus loves him.
I gave him a hug, gave him a kiss, and put him back in his bed.
And then it was time for me to take Hattie to dance, and for the Mister to take over in the parenting department.
Two days later and things are better. My son has been more regulated the past 2 days. With the Mister's aid, he apologized to me for kicking me. He seemed truly sorry and worried. That's a good sign.
But this adoption parenting is a crash course in learning compassion and learning love when I don't feel like either. Truth be told, it was SO hard for me to be compassionate at that time. I certainly did not feel it. I certainly did not feel the love. But sometimes it's just the act of being obedient to the idea. Acting loving. Acting compassionate. Doing the thing we least feel like doing, but at the time when it is most important to do it. It's not easy, and it's not fun, and it's not "feel good" by any stretch of the imagination. And more often than not, I'm reminded of my sinful nature and the grace God extends to me, lovingly, time and time again.