It’s Friday and things are better. Today is the second snow day this week and I’m wondering will the kids get any summer break around these parts.
Hope was delighted by the snow day; she’s a hard core nester/homebody. She never got dressed, never bathed (I let it go for yesterday), and just was happy as a clam.
I was still sick with a racking cough. I still have the racking cough, actually; I imagine it will be with me for a week or so. I was kind of miserable. I gave her lots of tablet time, made her practice her sax (Hey, it actually sounds like music now!) and lay in bed. I fretted bit about how the house felt filthy to me, how I just wanted to sleep unencumbered and how I needed to go dig the car out so that it wasn’t so bad when the second storm hit later in the day.
I started to think about what I’m learning during this process. I have been blogging more about my emotions in the moment and straying from the learning part. It’s just been so overwhelming. So here goes my current list of observations and learned gems.
- I know we’re improving even if it feels like walking across hot coals in hell. She comes to me, she wants to be with me, and she gets frustrated when I say no but she is increasingly less likely to push me on things. She’s never again asked to be taken back to WA.
- There is a difference in when she decides to be straight up oppositional and when she is just being a typical annoying teen. My dissertation research is, in part, about how personal values shape viewpoints on a particular issue. There is a personal value called “face” that really is much like the desire to protect and preserve our public identities. Anything that threatens what Hope perceives to be as personal identity space she digs in and digs in hard. So teacher notes invade a space in which she is constructing her public persona. School incidents are particularly threatening to how she sees herself and she will go down swinging to preserve her “face.”
Typical annoying teen stuff, she’s more likely to come to me later and tell me that her feelings were hurt by something I said or did—like when I told her “Fine, don’t wear your coat in 22 degree weather when you have a sinus infection. Catch pneumonia <shrug>.” Later she politely told me that hurt her feelings because she could die from pneumonia and surely I didn’t want her to die. (I reminded her, no I didn’t want her to die, which is why I insisted on the damn coat #girlbye!) Glad this dissertation is worth something more to me.
- There so many things, like boundaries, that she wasn’t taught and must learn. My biggest peeve is her traipsing into my room. Yesterday she got into my bed. Yeah, yeah, snuggling and all that, whatever. I am desperate for some sanctuary and personal space, and my bedroom is IT. I still tiptoe into my parents’ room back home. Bedrooms are sacred space for me. And despite several polite conversations, she just traipses in whenever she gets ready. She’s walked in on me in my bathroom, getting dressed, you name it. Drives me nuts and when I say something it’s all, “You don’t want me in your room,” with lots of attitude. Yeah, you’re right, I don’t. There I admit it. It’s the only safe space I have.
While doing a puzzle in the living room yesterday during the storm, I also realized that she didn’t really know how to work on a puzzle with someone else. She sucks up the table space by leaning all the way over such that her hands hang over my side of the table and will actually pick up pieces I am working on. I had to take several breaks because it was almost invasive in a way that ruined the experience for me. Yesterday was not the day to teach more about personal space, but clearly that’s something I need to work on with her.
- There is a kindness of spirit in her. She has made me tea every day that I’ve been sick. She knows her skills of caring for me are limited so she focuses on what she can do. At her core, she is such a sweetie.
- A trip to the veterinarian determined that The Furry One is in the very early stages of kidney failure. At 14 and 3 months, it is a normal sign of old age. Given his overall health though, the vet confirmed that yeah, the rug pee fiasco of last week was indeed an declaration of war. He’s actually engaging Hope more appropriately this week. Had he been sicker I would’ve asked the vet to duct tape and paperclip this dog together, I’m way to unstable to lose The Furry One right now. That would send me right on over the edge.
- The weather is effing up my best efforts to get us on a consistent schedule. I mean really, I can’t win for losing! Two days off this week. No band practice. I’m increasingly behind at work. It’s all a mess, I tell you. And I know that the scheduling thing is going to be the way to glory for us. I really need to have a talk with Mother Nature.
- Prayer works. Hope and I pray together twice a day. She is responsible for one of the prayers. I notice how her prayers have changed over the weeks. The things she prays about are changing, she prays for our family. She prays for The Furry One even though he peed on her rug. She prays that she’ll have a better day at school. I can’t honestly say that I’m deep in meditation when she’s praying because I’m trying to tune into what she’s saying and maybe not saying. But her prayers are changing and I’m encouraged by that.
- Hope is finally getting the concept of salvation. She told me early on that she had been saved twice but it didn’t work; it didn’t “take” because she is so bad. Lots of distilled theological conversations up in Casa de ABM. She’s now talking about baptism and salvation and such. She had a mini-meltdown this week when contemplating a lost family member and whether they were in heaven or hell; she didn’t know if they were saved. It was a heartbreaking moment, but it revealed a few things to me: She’s thinking about our talks, she’s applying those discussions, and she’s still grappling with grief. I was sad for her, but I was also happy to know that I’m getting through that tough candy shell of hers.
- She enjoys a little decadence, like we all do. She gets excited to try new things, do things with me that foster families had previously promised but didn’t do and is thoughtful about each experience as it bonds us. I’m the one who’s following through, who’s showing her something more. She appreciates that. One night a week is pizza night; during previous weeks we got take out. This week I needed a fabric napkin experience as a Maslow’s Hierarchy element in my life (I loathe fast food) so I decided we would go out to eat. She was almost overwhelmed by the local restaurant; she relished having a small appetizer and dessert. She was tickled by the whole experience. I was getting terribly ill during the dinner but I found such pleasure in watching her take it all in.
- I had no idea 12 year old asked so many why questions. Oh. My. God. Why? Why? Why? Why to random stuff that I’ve never heard about that happened when she was 8? Why to random stuff that happened last week? Why to something that happened on a random show she watched but I didn’t? I thought in going with an older kid, I would bypass a lot of the “why” stuff. No, not really. I can see how stunted in some areas she maybe. She wasn’t in environments when she could ask why; she is now. I can see that I’ve created a safe space for her to do that. I’m increasingly comfortable with say, “Sweetie, I don’t know. Can we Google it?” By the 18th time I try to recite that without sounding annoyed and exasperated.
So, it’s Friday, one of the days when I can be a bit more reflective. Hope is still snoozing and I’ve tidied the house, taken out the trash, opened a window and let some cool air in to air out the sickie germs, and written this here post. If I hurry, I probably can get to the grocery store to pick up a few things and GASP—get some Starbucks and some Valentine’s chocolates that I don’t have to share!!! OMG, OMG so exciting!!
OMG—Hallelujah! Peace out!