Things I’ve learned about my older child and older child adoption on Day 3.
5. Older kids have probably missed a lot of their childhood.
My own parents were often criticized as being too strict. My sisters and I didn’t go to rated R movies, we didn’t have cable, we focused on school and activities and we were shielded from so much. My sisters and I got to be little girls. Hope seems to rarely have had a chance to be a little girl, and to some degree trying to impose a bit of little girlness in her life is like putting a genie back in a bottle.
The truth of the matter is that she has likely seen a lot more than I’ve seen in my 40 years. She’s annoyed that I won’t let her see certain things, say certain things, do certain things. She’s 12. She’s not a grown up, she doesn’t have to be a grown up. She can still be a little girl with some help.
4. The ego is frail.
I think all of our egos are frail. But I especially think that our older adopted kids’ egos are so very fragile. When it occurred to me yesterday, we were playing Wii. She talked MAD ish about how she was going to whoop me. Whatever. She won the first game, and then I smoked her on the next three. The sulking started and was headed to a full on cry when I just essentially stopped playing. I stood there though the next 4 Michael Jackson songs, barely lifting my arms until we were far enough in the song that I knew I couldn’t win.
Let me explain why it’s more than ego in number 3.
3. Depression and low self-esteem is serious for these kids.
My heart broke several times during the day when Hope called herself ugly. She said she wasn’t smart. She said no one before her had really wanted her. Her self-worth is so low. Can you imagine such a life that you woke up one day and you ended up in the custody of the state and you bounced around for a couple of years, hoping someone will want to adopt you? It makes me cry just thinking about it. How can you not be depressed with low self-esteem under those circumstances?
It’s going to take a more than a few days to help her overcome all of this. Protecting her fragile ego by not smoking her on Remember the Time is a small thing I have to do to help.
2. Tweens actually believe stuff in tabloids and on the internet.
This isn’t exactly limited to older adopted kids, but I do think that the desire to dive into the alternative reality offered in the tabs and on the internet allows them to practice a type of escapism. The stories I had to hear about Justin, One Direction, the Kardashians and other tween idols were so utterly ridiculous. It also requires a lot of patience to listen and not counter the narrative too much, because it’s really just a pain in the butt to grapple with. Tween logic—I’m sure all tweens—just makes it that much more difficult to help parse reality from reality tv. I’m struggling to help her get accustomed to her new reality. She won’t marry Bruno Mars, but she will have a good life just the same.
1. Older kids are exhausting.
So… people talk about the whole infant brigade. I’ve seen the evidence that new parents can be walking zombies. Parents of older kids must be faking it really well, because they seem to have it more together.
Dropping an older kid into your life is exhausting in a different way. They don’t go down for naps. They talk and talk and talk. Bonding is so super awesome, but my brain starts slowing down in the afternoon. My little night owl is just getting crunk. I am so frigging tired.
I’m a serious extravert, but I still need that quiet time. That quiet time is rare this week. I know that I’ll have a bit more when we get settled into a routine with school and activities. My car will be a sanctuary. But in the meantime, all this bonding (which I’m not complaining about at all!) is emotionally and physically exhausting. I found myself thinking, are you sure you don’t want to take a nap? I think you should take a nap.
I want to take a nap.
In other news, The Furry One is clearly confused by the new addition. He has taken to humping one of my slippers. It is a new slipper. It is a nice slipper. It is a fluffy slipper. Sigh.