Back to a serious post… if anything that goes on here can be considered serious. We go from OMGWTF? to HAHA-AWESOME! in less time than it takes to butter a piece of toast.
The kids are starting to get a lot of our sense of humor (finally) and we haven’t even started indoctrinating them with Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies. They have seen Down Periscope multiple times, so that helps. It’s pretty awesome to see them crack cynical, sarcastic filled jokes and it’s even better to see them understanding and using puns. LJ is a LOT like me – he says “puns work because of a misused homophone.” Absolutely child. Absolutely.
Me and LJ – we have an odd sort of relationship. It’s been hard for me from the beginning with him. There was a time where we almost refused placement with him – it was that bad. See, I’m an alpha female. I have been since the moment I was born and everyone in my family will tell you that. LJ, when he first came to us, was under the impression that a woman’s job was to cook and take care of the younger babies. This woman who will never exist was supposed to see a 7 year old boy as having more status in the household than her. (I know I’ve written before about how the household is like a dog pack.) Well… as you can tell, this attitude didn’t work.
So, over the 2 years we’ve known him and he’s come to live with us and become our son, we’ve been working on this. At times I’m overbearing and at times, he is. For the most part, he’s figured out that he doesn’t get to tell A&E what to do and I try and give him responsibility over himself. (I do get to overrule stupid things like wearing shorts to school when it’s 50 degrees outside.)
We meet at loving books. He loves to read and so do I. We’d rather read in our bed than talk to anyone. The problem is that he’s not real sure where the lines between fiction and reality are. He told some teachers at the school earlier this week that a dragon had bitten him on the neck. Of course, no one believed him, but the counselor called home to tell me what was going on. He’s had some pretty big stuff come up in the past few weeks so she knew this may be something we need to discuss.
He and I sat in the car and talked while in the carpool lane to pick up his sister. We talked and talked and talked. He didn’t understand that the words he says to people cause reactions – no matter what you say, you’re going to get a reaction. We talked about how if people knew he just made stuff up all the time that no one would listen to him if something was actually wrong. We talked about believable stories – dragon bit you? Obviously not true. (though, it’s probably better to make up a story that can’t possibly be true than say something equally untrue but believable.)
We talked about appropriate things to share with people (conditional boundaries) and what would happen if those boundaries weren’t respected. We talked about kids in the foster care system (when we were picking up our AA check at DFCS, he saw some classmates in the waiting room) and the different things that could cause a child to need care.
We spent a lot of time talking about severity and differences – not all kids go through the same thing he did. For some kids, they had an easier time of it. For some, they had a time that was much worse than his. We talked about how everyone, everywhere has something in their past that hurts and how we deal with it determines the kind of person we are.
After all that – we made a deal.
Until November 15th, he is not allowed to either make up fantasy stories or read fiction novels. He still has to read every night – but he gets true stories. He’s involved in a biography of Cal Ripken Jr. right now. I’ll probably go to Goodwill today or tomorrow to pick up more kiddo friendly non-fiction books. If not that, then we’ll visit the local library.
Things have been moderately better since then. He’s been meeting my eye and making jokes with me. He’s been helpful and respectful to the little bits. Last night, we even put everyone to bed with the sound of laughter even though it was an emotionally difficult day for everyone. He woke up this morning and told me – amazed – “I didn’t have any nightmares last night, Mommy!” Awesome. Pure awesome.
This morning we talked about how to say “its not your business” to people who made them uncomfortable with questions. We talked about whose business it is – the family’s and the doctors.
After going through foster care and adoption, this is something all of us need to rebuild. We all need to work on appropriate levels of privacy for ourselves and each other. We’ve all just gone through so many years of having to report every little thing by phone and in writing. There were always people in and out of our house – I couldn’t let the laundry go or not load the dishwasher because at ANY moment, someone could pull up and get to judge our worthiness. This is partly why I’m so open on the internet – it would be hard to rape our privacy and background any more than what it took to become a foster/adopt parent.
Now, we’re having to work on telling people it’s not their business. Truth is, most people aren’t looking to help – they’re looking for gossip. Shaun and I are also having to relearn to trust our own judgment. We’re both grown but we’re too used to having every move picked apart. That causes stress and anxiety for all of us – we can’t just relax and have normal everyday fights. Everything is a possible catastrophe. Everything is caused by this event or that event, and everyone has a different opinion of what caused what.
I mean, I just want my child to feel free enough to scream “I hate you – you’re the meanest mom EVER.” Right now, we’re still all worried about what we’re saying and trying to use proper communication skills. In foster care, if they said “I hate her – she’s so mean” to a case worker it wouldn’t be about whether I confiscated the Nintendo DS – it would be “are you feeding them properly? Whats your discipline policy? We need to have a face to face meeting about this placement. I need to talk to my supervisor.” Basically, if you get mad and immature, your whole life could be turned upside down (and immature is probably 30% of my personality.)
I want to be able to say “I don’t even want to see you right now” without it meaning “she may not love me enough to keep me.” No, I just need some time not seeing YOU. I’ll get to where I want to see YOU again but first I need 5 minutes to look at something else. Every word that I say has to be examined from how they’ll receive it and how it will sound if they repeat it or how it will sound when I tell the therapist about it (because I can’t lie worth a shit and they can tell when something is going on.) Then the kids see that I’m uncertain and they start thinking that maybe I don’t know what I’m doing and maybe they don’t have to listen to me. Or something.
For now, it’s just repeating “I’m your mom. I was your mom yesterday and I’ll be your mom tomorrow. I’ll be your mom next year and the year after that. I’ll be your mom when you get old and have babies. I’ll be your mom no matter what.” If we say it enough, maybe we’ll all start to believe its not fiction or fantasy.