It’s odd to not do my weekly rundown, just because it’s my own way of reflecting and figuring out my improvement metrics (I like data!). So, this week I’m getting it done midweek.
Things are ok around here; we have little lightening rod things that drive us both nuts. But overall, we are doing better. Here’s what’s going down.
Mom needs some attention. So, Hope has some issues with attention. When she’s doing something she really dives deep into the focus; it’s so deep that it’s like nothing else exists and she’s in a trance. The living room TV has become a hot point for several issues. 1) It’s a distraction that makes her late in the morning—on average she’s missing the bus twice a week. 2) The TV a distraction at dinner. We can’t have a decent conversation because I might as well be talking to a napkin. Also she won’t eat because she’s so into the TV. 3) Multiple episodes of Adventure Time, Anthony Zimmerman and Big Bang Theory drive me nuts. 4) I can’t watch grown folks TV on my couch anymore.
So I’ve made a plan to restrict the time the main TV is on and will be moving cable boxes this weekend and downgrading the cable. Cool, right?
Ah but then an external voice of reason, let’s call him Elihu, says, “Hmmmm, ABM, so can we talk about reason number 2 a bit more? Sounds like you were peeved she didn’t want to kick it with you? Were you?” #ihateitwhenhesright
Ummm, there are perfectly legitimate reasons for me making TV changes, but ultimately, yeah, I was so looking forward to enjoying dinner with my girl and she totally dissed me. There’s some part of me that was crushed because I really, really wanted to kick with her that evening. So, some part of me is taking it out on the TV.
But I’m still right about the TV.
When Hope wants to talk, it mentally exhausts me. Oh it’s cool that she wants to talk, but Hope’s attention issues also head to the other end of the continuum where we can change conversation topics, like every 3-5 sentences. In the span of twenty minutes we’ve touched on the following: Bieber, Bruno Mars, has her Seventeen magazine arrived? What’s transgender? Why are people trippin’ about Michael Sam kissing his man when he finally got drafted? When am I going to wash her hair? There are probably another 5 topics that I missed. Ohmygosh.
But here’s the thing, as exhausting as some of this chatter can be and as irritating as the Bieber conversations can be, I LOVE the fact that she wants to talk and that she feels comfortable enough with me that she’ll ask me about all the touchy topics. I do wish that she had an “inside voice” and asked some questions at home or in the car or somewhere where we had some privacy. I totally wasn’t fazed by the content of LGBT questions—I’m committed to raising an inclusive-minded kiddo. What did trip me out was the fact that she asked the questions about Conchita Wurst and Michael Sam at Gate K19 at O’Hare on Sunday morning at 5:30am on volume 37 of 50. The surrounding ear hustlers were so serious, and it was too early for all that.
Someone is always doing worse than you. This is a recurring life lesson, but it’s something that I keep coming back to on this adoption journey as well. I hit up my agency support group last night where other waiting parents were bemoaning waits of 4 months to 2 years for a match and other parents struggling with the demands of new parenting and specifically parenting their child’s specific challenges, while still other parents wondering if they are really going to jump in and do this thing. Then another parent I met through social media posted a link to this Tumblr page: Parenting Confessional.
Hope was the first profile I received and we were formally matched about a month later. I managed to write a dissertation during this process, finishing the last chapter during one of the darkest weeks of my life while trying to survive an event that threatened to disrupt our placement. Family drama. Drama of varying sorts. And yet, I’m actually ok. Hope is actually ok. I’m not sure we’re thriving (yet) but we’re stable or at least as stable as a 3.5 month adoptive placement is probably going to be.
I mean I think about how the parent of a friend of Hope’s responded when I asked if it was ok if I took her daughter to the movies with Hope a few weeks ago. That woman sounded like she was going through IT and I don’t know her from a can of paint. All God’s children got problems. I would say that my and Hope’s problems are probably not all that bad all things considered. I’m finding folks doing way worse than me; heck I see them in the blogosphere all the time.
Sometimes emotions really, really suck. I’m reading Beyond Consequences right now, and it’s all about how our kids have not developed an ability to self-regulate their emotional states through appropriate behavior. In a super condensed nutshell, kids who’ve experienced trauma will flip out when their emotions are overwhelming; parents are more likely to focus on the inappropriate behavior that drives us up the effing wall rather than the deep-seeded emotional baggage that underpins it even when it isn’t apparent. We’re more likely to use a punishment paradigm than to emphasize a “You’re safe, let me help you be more safe” paradigm. Yeah, ok, got it. Makes sense, right?
Yeah, until your kid is going the hell off on some random ish that you have no effin idea what triggered it. You’re saying safety crap and “There, there, let mom hug” you while you’re ducking blows and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. When this happens for us, sometimes it’s days before Hope can get herself together to say what’s really going on. Hell, we just deconstructed the whole Don King episode from two weeks ago last night.
It’s heartbreaking to find that your kid really, really doesn’t have the regulatory skills to just not go the hell off or be reduced to tears because you said no to getting a Slurpee on a Tuesday. It’s also guilt ridden, especially with the older kids who just by virtue of their age and size, you expect have some crap together. They don’t; not even close.
Emotions can just be like a really, really bad storm when they take over. Bless Hope’s heart; she has improved this skill area so much, but ugh…I have no idea when or how or if she’s really going to get to be able to master/muster the emotional –behavioral thing. Time will tell.
Adoption related judgment fear notwithstanding, I really don’t give two damns about what other people think. Hope and I’ve been talking a lot about friends, bullies, the whole relationship milieu. I only somewhat recall how much I fretted about what other people thought and the possibility of being talked about, judged or bullied. But it’s a constant life issue these days around these parts. I am trying to work on building Hope’s self-esteem, but ugh, these little bad arse school kids are wrecking her flow. There’s lots of soothing hugs and internal desires for me to go up to that school and end up doing something that will end up having me go viral on YouTube before getting arrested.
But, I’m learning that my general self-esteem is pretty solid. I understand my flaws but they’re mine. I can fret about my body, but it’s mine. I don’t really care much about what other people think or have to say about me. That’s a liberating realization.
A liberating realization until I think about how awful I feel when Hope is doing something publicly that draws negative attention and reckless, shady looks in my direction that say, “Aren’t you going to check your kid? Aren’t you going to snatch her up? Why haven’t you “fixed” that yet? Are you going to *do* something because she’s ruining it for everyone?” Fear of parenting judgment is my current “thing” that I just get nervous about. I know in time it will pass. So much has happened that it’s hard to remember that it’s only been 3.5 months since Hope moved here. I’ll get better at not caring about what people have to say at some point.
We’ve got a busy weekend planned, but I hope to enjoy a bit of rest. Now that things are done with school, I long to just enjoy an hour or two just chillaxing on the balcony on my lawn chair snoozing with The Furry One. Let’s bow our heads and cross our fingers that it happens this weekend.