During the course of writing this post, things hit an upswing. I’m not where I want to be emotionally, but I’m better than where I was.
We survived Thanksgiving with only a few wounds, though I think mine seem worse than hers. I cooked the family turkey. We only ate about half of it, so I brought it back home. I dropped it in the hallway right at the door to my condo. I cried and cried and Hope stepped up and comforted me. Nice, especially since she had been a holy terror most of the day.
Today, she’s been with me 7 days. So here are my observations, lessons, journey-woman musings. Oh and in honor of the number of completion, there are 7.
7. It’s hard not to take her behaviors personally.
Ok, I need something much harder than this tough candy shell, because it’s not going to protect my feelings at all. She says really mean things within minutes of any extension of kindness. And it’s always my fault. She’s quick to remind me how sensitive she is, but there is rarely a hint of compassion for me. I mean, I’ve seen it, but wow… it was triggered by my dropping a turkey and crying in the hallway.
I know as the grown up that I’m supposed to keep it together, but dang, I’m pretty sensitive too. It’s just me, Hope and the Furry One up in this house, and you know what? Ish really got real the last couple of days. I know that it’s probably a good sign, but I really have been hurt the last couple of days, just really hurt. I need to develop whatever emotional armor I need to raise this kid with a quickness, otherwise I’ll be crying myself to sleep for a good while yet.
As I write this, I’m trying to recover from a personal meltdown. Yeah, she’s raising a racket in her room, while supposedly doing homework. I know its self soothing behaviors; I know I should go comfort her in some way. But I just don’t have it in me right at this moment. Maybe in 30 minutes; maybe 40…
6. Jedi mind tricks and “call your bluffs” work.
Thanksgiving dinner was a challenge, what with an attention-starved, hunger striking tween in play. The family was on high alert to be gentle and give her space. I was prepared to take her home to protect her from being overwhelmed. What actually happened was that she acted like a first class brat at various intervals when she didn’t feel she was the pedestal hogging center of attention, because to hear her tell it, “Everyone always loves me and always wants to be around me.” With a big rowdy family everyone gets bits of attention here and there. Dinner is a chaotic, laughter-filled food fest with a dozen people or more talking at the same time. No one is the center of attention, though had she joined us for dinner, she might’ve been. Instead the hunger strike persisted.
Having attempted many attention grabbing hunger strikes in my teen years, only to be comforted by one Auntie who was trying not to undermine me in this scenario, I told her we would head home in a specified amount of time (soon) and it was too bad she wasn’t hungry since there was so much good food around. She was upstairs in a flash.
Today while shopping with the favorite cousin and the cousin’s friend, my attention seeker’s pedestal was not high enough, so a faux, but oh so dramatic, spontaneous ear ache/infection came on. She whined that she wanted to go home. So I made arrangements for the cousin and friend to stay at the mall, and announced our immediate departure. It was like she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment — instantaneous healing, since she hadn’t played out her deadly ear infection scam as including leaving the presence of two supa-fly 16 year olds.
And home we went, despite all protestations of healing.
5. She’s manipulative, and she knows it clap your hands. Clap, clap.
On the way home she said, “It is sad that I get sick whenever we are about to do something you want to do.” Yeah, the next mall stop was Old Navy, where she knew I’d wanted to go all day. Her sudden, life threatening ear infection (that also affected the very ability to swallow) killed that trip.
Oh the shade of it all. If you could’ve seen the side eye I gave this tween in my head! My Lord, my Lord…smh.
And yeah, the illnesses only strike when its something I have initiated or expressed an interest in doing.
She catches stomach aches, ear aches, foot cramps, you name it, she gets it. I’m surprised she hasn’t claimed a flesh eating disease yet. I shared this with one of my cousins this morning. We are a robust family, but almost all of us has a serious, chronic ailment that could usher us out of here. MDs are like family around these parts. Keep on playing, Hope, and you’ll be at my GI doc’s office scheduling an endoscopy to see what’s really going on in your tummy with all these stomach aches.
I know that it’s about anxiety (10-20%) and attention-seeking (80-90%), but she is so shady about it.
4. Hope is so tall that its easy to forget she’s only 12, and emotionally more like 9 or 10….
…until she opens her mouth and says something so ridiculous. It’s exhausting following her because she is all over the place. Part of it is age, part stunted development. She can go from trying to act older down to a 5 year old within the same sentence. When she’s happy she giggles and the little girl within emerges–she’s charming and adorable. But then there’s all this other stuff. She looks young in the face but she’s tall and developed and well, it’s sometimes hard to remember, she’s only 12, has been to hell and back and I need to lower expectations for behaviors.
I’m really conscious of this when we are out and about because I see the higher/older expectations people have of her. It’s tough being so tall at such a young age.
3. Tweens are kinda (really) obnoxious.
Holy cow. I already knew tweens were obnoxious, but most of the tweens I know or have known, I’ve known since they were infants. It’s off-putting when your new tween seems to think you only moved to civilization to adopt her.
“Ugh, your cable is bad. You really need to get the kind of cable we have back home. This tv doesn’t get any real channels.”
“Nope, the cable isn’t bad. The cable in your room is intentionally bad since you don’t need access to some of those other channels. The cable is great in the other parts of the house.”
“Have you heard of Robin Thicke? He’s a singer; his CD is really good. You should get it. Do they sell here?”
“Robin Thicke has been around since you were an angel on the gatepost of heaven. Yeah, I have his CD; I have all of his CDs. Virginia is not like living on the moon, though Amazon Prime might deliver there.”
“This condo-hotel you have isn’t all that good. We should rent a new place.” (The condo building has experienced some untimely water issues this week.)
“I live here. I own this space. It’s not a hotel. We are not renting a new place. Stuff happens and you deal.”
And if I hear Gaga’s Applause one more time, I’m going to lose it. I finally had to school her on lyrics while at the mall since she insisted on giving a concert of the song, over and frigging over. There’s a line in the song where Gaga talks about being a Koons (the art dude), but Hope kept screeching what sounded like Koonts, which in turn sounded like a gross mispronunciation of a gross c*nt.
Honestly it was hilarious, but I finally had to ask her to stop singing that line.
Yeah, obnoxious, but sometimes funny.
3. This happened: Another mom discussion.
So after the drama that was Thanksgiving dinner with the family and before I accidentally dumped the turkey in the hallway in front of my condo door, Hope once again broached the issue of what to call me. She’s been grappling with this for a couple of months now. She says calling me mom is weird. She does everything but call me mom. She describes me as mom; she tells her friends I’m her mom. I’m her mom.
But I get why she struggles with this. She hasn’t had a mom. She says its weird to call me that. In the last 24 hours she has regressed to call me by Foster Mom’s name, so I know it’s really weighing on her. I’m reassuring her that it is ok with me; I’m ok with not having the title even if I would love to have it. The fact that she’s given me that title with everyone else is enough for me.
I do hope it happens, though.
1. Hope told me she loved me.
In the midst of what feels like one of the upper, not quite so hot, rings of hell this week, Hope said she loved me. Even in my frustration and tears, it was shocking and sweet and wonderful. It is ironic that it comes during the most challenging time, but I guess that’s the point. I’m doing ok by her. She knows I’m here to stay. It will eventually get better, even if I know it will get worse before it does.
Oh, hello obscenely full tumbler glass of blush vinho verde, how you doin’ tonight???