School day, redux

School day, redux

Originally uploaded by kjda

I don’t wan’ go school! That pretty much sums up our morning. Our babysitter, fabulous in nearly every way, isn’t on the school night train yet (and it’s been a tough one for us to get on, too). Rory went to bed an hour plus later than she needs to. She had to be dragged out of bed. All the way to school she insisted–she did not want to go. Wyatt had some of the same issues.

I heard you, I said. I’m sorry you feel that way. In our family, when it’s a school day, we go to school.

I’ve been saying those same things to Lily and occasionally Wyatt for a couple of years now. Rob was in the car this morning–we’d had a one-car night and left his at the office–and he said afterwards that I had been very annoying, and he wanted to kick me himself, so it was no wonder that Rory did. That was ALSO a deeply annoying thing to say, and not at all helpful, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, as you’ll have gathered, into school, wailing. Off with coat, wailing. Into slippers, wailing. Attempts to throw self on floor, to remove slippers, to go back out the door (by Rory, not me.)

Wyatt has resigned himself–he’s fine. Hug and kiss for Wyatt. Rory tries Rob, clinging to his dice.

We deliver her to the patient teacher, and she wails as we say bye. I’ll be back at pick up! Wailing, wailing.

And we’re off. Following the critique of my parenting style, I headed to an internet-positive location, put in three hours of work, and returned to the school. 10 minutes, said the patient teacher. I got a big hug from Rory but neither of us said anything. And that was it.

We went through this with Lily, I remember for certain. Wyatt maybe. I think so. It is what it is. Did it feel a little different? yes, but I couldn’t bring myself to believe this was about the adoption separation, or her not thinking I’d come back. I’ve left her so many times now, and come back so many times. I thought this was Rory tired. Rory facing another day of learning new rules (don’t like rules, and having to learn them is even worse). Rory with another day in a regulated, predictable environment–which is actually something she loves, but I’ve noticed she really disliked being “shown” the routine. She likes to pretend she knows what she’s doing at all times.

One teacher did toss at me that Rory “said you weren’t coming back.” Here’s how I imagine that went down:
Gentle but annoyingly knowing teacher: Rory, are you sad?
R: NO!
GBAKT:Are you sad that Mommy and Daddy left?
R: NO!
GBAKT: Will Mommy and Daddy come back?
R: NO!

I’ve noticed that there are plenty of people out there who want to put every behavioral issue down to being adopted, and man, are we conspicuous with it–here we are! we just adopted! We’re hauling her into everything! I find pockets of people who think I should just hunker down and smother her with love and affection for a year or so. That’s not the family she got.

Thanks, Nancy, for a great comment on my earlier post. I was hoping for a little sympa…thanks all!

This is just how today went. School is tough for the first few weeks. Tiring. We’re having some nice tv now.

5 Responses to “School day, redux”

  1. G. Silva says:

    Nevermind what Rob says; I think you’re doing all right. People imagine all sorts of childhood trauma forming from every little thing you do that they’d do differently. And what they criticize you for is just the opposite of what other people will criticize you for. Just yesterday I mentioned that I’m not sending my 18-month-old to day care and got told, “But he needs to learn to be comfortable with other children!” He will, lady, he will.

    Truth is, no one can predict who will grow up to be a human pathos machine, and who will adjust well. I think the best way to avoid raising kids with pathos is to not have too much of it yourself. But I could be wrong about that too. One of the most pathetic people I know has a well-adjusted teenage son.

    So, what can we do? What is the universally acceptable approach that will draw no criticism? It’s probably something like, “Never speak to another adult ever again.”

  2. ruth in NZ says:

    What I think is that adopted does cause trauma yes and that we have to be aware of. Does whinging get you what you want? Not here and what does no mean? That is right No so ask me 10 zillion times and it will still be no!

    I think we as parents have to be aware that children are very worried at times that we won’t come back and not just becuase they were adandoned once at birth but in their minds eye twice when they were handed to us and they really did think the SWI staff foster family would come back for them.

    I know for my 14 year there are on going issues does that mean we are soft on him no!

    Setting boundaries and having routines are important and transitioning is the hardest and that is for most of us! and it does take longer for some of our children more than others!

    My 2 year old every day at Daycare will no say goodbye properly and wave she disengages with me and when I prove I come back I am her best buddy even though i the morning model the perfect leaving behaviour!

    It is what it is!
    Hugs Ruth in NZ

  3. michelle says:

    First I want to say that I was in the group of adoptive parents (like you) that did not bond immediately. I fully expected that I would fall instantly in love and was rather shocked at the “I feel like I am babysitting” feeling. I struggled a great deal for the first six months. With that said, I will say I had enormous amount of empathy for our daughter and tried very hard to focus on her feelings more than mine. I also think trying to ignore the fact that very recently everything she has known in her whole world has changed is a big mistake. In my opinion you can’t ignore the fact that she has been adopted just because it is the easiest thing to do. If you don’t progress with the bonding I think some family counseling would be a great idea.


  4. Bonnie says:

    Adoption, especially toddler adoption, is extremely challenging. It’s hard when you feel a deep love and bond to your new child, and, undoubtedly, that much harder when you’re struggling to feel that love. I think most adoptive families (especially first-timers) are unprepared for the challenges during the transition period, and, in many cases, for years to come. It’s important to recognize that for at least a year, helping your adopted child transition to your family and bond to you has to be your absolute priority. (In fact, it will be a lifelong process for both of you.) I understand how difficult it is to balance this with the needs of your other children and work obligations, but the bottom line is there are no short cuts on this journey – you have to do the work, make the sacrifices, and accept that it isn’t “business as usual” around your home. The way you usually do things, or would do things with your other children, may not work with Rory because her life experience is completely different and she is coming from a completely different place emotionally. As I read your blog, I worry that you don’t really understand what Rory needs from you (and your husband) right now. I don’t mean the “unequivocal love” thing – you can’t force that. But she needs you to understand, and, more importantly, accept, that she is very needy right now for reasons that are out of her control. She isn’t screaming, or climbing all over you, or challenging you for spite or to be annoying – she’s in survival mode and she’s coping the only way she knows how. Please remember that Rory didn’t sign up for this, but you did. Please don’t underestimate how much she is going through and how much she needs from you. I strongly recommend “Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child” (Cogen). It will help you better understand how things feel from Rory’s perspective and what you can do to help her. I’m sorry if this sounds critical. I want to write a supportive and understanding comment, because I do understand how exhausting and hard it is, but I’m afraid this is rather blunt. I appreciate the honesty of your blog.

  5. Marie-Claude Gagnon says:

    A family never continues ”business as usual” after an adoption. First, we are tired of the wait, the preparations, the trip, problems that may occur during the trip and getting settled at home. That’s our part and we signed up for it. As for our kids, I agree they never signed up for it but what they new for 6, 12, or more months has been taken away from them, the language is different and the rules are different. This is a brutal transition, our international adoption pediatrician reminds us often, you keep up with the rules, but don’t forget she has a baggage she will carry for a very long time.

    We were lucky enough to live near another family that adopted a little girl that was with our 3rd daughter, same orphanage, same bed when they were babies. They were adopted at 13 months. The first time they saw each other, at the hotel two days after gotcha day, they started to cuddle, play and ”talk”, they were so calm. To this day, they have been the best of friends even though the other family had to move last year in a city two hours from here. We see them often, they talk on the phone and as my daughter once said to me (she is now 5 and can talk about anything) talking or being with her friend gives her comfort that makes her very good. ”Like when I’m in your arms, but different’. Her doctor wants us to keep this relationship, its so important. She has a link to her previous life. But for the others, no such soothing calming person, except us. And boy is it hard to always be the one to calm their fears and insecurites, but these fears are real and they need us to calm and make them feel better, and that take so much patience (sometimes I out), and understanding (sometimes I’m out) and love. Love for your family, for yourself, the rest will follow but you have to be patient and put the time. I’m older, mid 40’s and have been for quite some time now doing the adoption thing and there is no big secret. In this day and age of having everything fast, easy, e-mailed, faxed, well adoption is still something you have to be very patient and the feelings of a child we have taken out of their comfort zone must be our main target. We are big girls, we will get through it, with big ugly crys, talking to friends, international adoption clinics and their teams, we are not alone.

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