Friday, March 23, 2012
Progress with trauma/attachment-challenged kids can be deceptive. It does not come in the form of a shiny, happy child bouncing out of bed one day, who is just okay with being a child and letting you be the Mama.
It comes in a one step forward-two steps back-three steps forward-one step back sort of confusion.
It was this past week, when I realized that in my head, I now mentally group Miles along with Hatfield, Atticus and Paloma.
Please don't think me horrid. This separation of children isn't a sort of cruel biological-vs-adoptive warfare.
I have found this mental line is drawn amongst behaviors. For instance, in our house, a sort of mental separation I have is with the Bigs (Hatfield and Atticus) and Littles (Miles, Keenan and Paloma.) Those lines are drawn by maturity and ability.
Other lines drawn by behaviors: Kids who Pea on Stuff When Angry -as opposed- Kids who Use the Toilet. Or Kids who Hide Other's Shoes -as opposed to- Kids who Pick Stuff Up and Move On. Or Kids who Can Accept Their Role in a Bad Choice, Fix It and Move On -as opposed to - Kids who are Always the Victim, No Matter Their Role.
The constant, never-ending flood of so many of these behavioral paradigms create the mental groupings naturally, as ugly as it is.
In the past 3 months, though, a huge shift has occurred with Miles. Things are gelling for him.
We had a huge bump about a month and a half back, when Miles clamped down and refused to do the math and reading that were being sent home with him. His anger was beginning to spill over into all other areas of his life, and I could see we were hovering on the edge of a spiral.
His 1st grade teacher (who is WONDERFUL and I LOVE her) called a meeting with the Mama, Miles, the Reading Specialist/ELL teacher, and Miles.
She talked on and on about how very smart Miles is. That while all the other kids in the class grew up in a home where speaking English, Miles didn't start learning until he was 5. And that when they tested him for the ELL program, both testers said that they have never met a kid with such command of the language so early on (Seriously, they did. Miles is like a language genius, and his speaking/comprehension skills are crazy good.)
The ELL teacher talked about how she understands that Miles wants to be as Good or Better than all the other readers in the class. And that he gets frustrated, and then mad, so he quits. She then pointed out ALL the times when he struggled with a book, then practiced it over and over, and then read it the best of all the kids.
The teacher closed the meeting with: I don't think it's that Miles doesn't want to do homework. I think it's that Miles wants to be at the top with the fast readers. So how about, instead of one book of reading homework each night, I send home Two. So that Miles can practice even harder and become a better reader more quickly."
Wouldn't you know it, she was totally right.
Once figured out (he's a competitive kid, so give him the "extra special" tools to succeed, and he'll run with it), he's now SUPER excited and happy to do his reading each night. Often he'll ask to read Keenan's book as well, for 3 a day should have him caught up by the end of the year.
Wow! I am so happy and blessed for the village in which I am raising my son. I don't think I ever would have figured that one out on my own.
My Miles is growing. Progress is happening. Some days, weeks, months, so slowly I'm not really sure. But the proof is irrefutable.
My Boy Likes Himself.
My little boy who came home with a Self-Concept of Nothing or The Angry Boy.
Always alone and withdrawn in the Orphanage, Miles saw himself as the Boy Against the World.
But no longer.
What's in his head now?
An internal picture of a boy who can try hard and succeed. A boy who knows he is loved and liked by people.
Slip-ups happen. Some days/events are slippery slopes which trigger all of the Lonely, Angry feelings. When that happens, we talk about those feelings, and then we talk about those feelings.
Each night at bedtime, I have Miles draw/write in his Success Journal. The journal, purposely, is not a place for putting down lonely or scared feelings. Those feelings we talk about with Mama, who is a Safe Person who loves you and is here to help you.
The Success Journal is designed to specifically reinforce and build up Good Feelings about Himself. To get him, I guess the best word is addicted, to feeling proud and seeing the connection between hard work and feeling good about oneself.
We do this at bedtime so that he does not go to bed dwelling on a bad choice or a wrong that has been done to him. He spent the first 5 years of his life steeped in those feelings.
Now, when he goes to bed, I want him to have last thought about something Awesome he did that day.
Because this is huge. My Boy Likes Himself. And I don't ever want the feeling to disappear.