Tonight Rory wanted some pineapple in her lunch for tomorrow, which requires that I cut a little off for her. Which I did, and put it in the little box she’d selected, and put the lid on, and presented it to her.
“I just gon’ LOOK,” she said, and opened it up.
I don’t know why this bothers me, but it does. It bothers me, I’m sorry to say, a lot. And I know I’ve blogged about it before-but I am NOT LYING!
There are no more cookies.
I do not have any gummy bears.
There is only a little rice left, and I am saving it for Daddy.

She’s got, now, that it annoys me, but she still really wants to do it. So she comes up with other stuff. I just like lookin’ at it, she’ll say. I just wan’ smell the (empty) bowl.

So I guess it really matters to her. Somehow, somewhere down the line, she got the idea that adults would hide food from her. I don’t think she ever went hungry by any means, but maybe she never got quite as many second servings of the good stuff as she wanted, either. And I’ve been able, mostly, to let it go. And find the little machinations to get around the need to see for herself funny. And you now what? I think she likes that I find it funny.

We’ve obviously come a long way, Rory and I. I think she knows it as well as I do on some level. And her favorite thing to do at the moment–and this is so perceptive of her, because if we HADN’T come so far, if we hadn’t finally clicked into full-on mother-child mode, it would never work—her favorite thing to do is to try to annoy me just ENOUGH.

To come just close ENOUGH to something I said not to touch—but smiling, and watching me, so that she knows that I know that she’s not going to do it. To announce just loudly ENOUGH that she’s going to, I don’t know, stand on the sofa or put her fork in her milk and then shriek, really quickly, “but I just kidding!” To remember all those buttons that she once pushed so proudly and come just close ENOUGH to pushing them to be reminded again that even if she pushed away, I would still love her.

And sometimes—often, even—it’s really funny. And sometimes, to be honest, it’s really annoying. And then I just tell her. That’s enough, Rory.

And then she bounces off. Thank God we adopted the world’s most resilient kid.

12 Responses to “Enough.”

  1. slawebb says:

    just a thought, but why not ask her to put the lid on herself. You may have to help her a bit, but then she sees it and you are training her to do it for herself. Maybe ask her if she thinks it’s enough rice for daddy. Just little things that will help her to see without driving you crazy. Unless doing would drive you crazy and then you probably shouldn’t do it. 🙂

  2. Sarah Kate says:

    I’ve been reading for a couple of years now. Although I think you should be applauded for your efforts to grow and change, I can’t help consistently feeling sorry for Rory and wishing your ego didn’t get in the way so often. Sorry. It could be just your honesty perhaps, and I don’t know you of course, but I can’t help but surmise that the control issues are yours. Again, sorry.

  3. shirlee says:

    Seems to me, this is normal childish behavior and normal mother being annoyed by it. Me? I get annoyed when Cheeky comes out of bed while I’m working and snuggles up close and stares at me lovingly. Nothing to do with her. Nope. It’s all me. I’ve worked my way through four kids doing similar stuff, and I really didn’t expect it from an older child. Plus, I’m extraordinarily busy and stressed. I do bite the impatience back, but that is my nature, and we aren’t all naturally patient.

    Facts are facts. No matter how good Rory’s foster situation was, it wasn’t the same as the situation she is in now. In some way, our girls were stunted emotionally by all they’ve been through. It’s just the way it is. Cheeky is about three years behind in family age. I absolutely accept and treat her accordingly, BUT that doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes frustrating. Mostly because she is so smart and fun and (to use words from one of your earlier posts) gifted. This makes her immaturity more marked. If she were behind academically and struggling in that area, I think her emotional immaturity wouldn’t be as glaring, but sometimes I feel funny treating a smart nine-year-old like she is six. On the other hand, she is small and cute and could pass for six or seven, so I often find myself thinking of her as younger.

    I guess my point is, I don’t feel sorry for Rory. She is loved. That is what matters most. Also, if this were one of your other children, I don’t think anyone would say they felt sorry for her. Just my two cents, but sometimes our mother guilt looms larger with the children we adopted than with our bio kids. I know mine does. It’s an interesting phenomenon and one that I did not expect. Someday, I’ll explore it more, but not today!

    Anyway, if you want to hear about food issues, visit my sister’s blog and email her. Ask about the disappearing food. She certainly has some stories to tell!

  4. Lisen says:

    Next time I come over, I’m going to look into all the little containers in your fridge and see if it’s Rory doing it that bugs you or if it’s the actual act of lifting the lids. 🙂

    I think that is really amazing that she’ll joke now about doing things that would push your buttons. Smart cookie, that one.

  5. KJ says:

    It’s totally cool with me that you feel sorry for Rory. Of course you’re absolutely right. The biggest thing that EVER stood in the way of our bonding is sitting right here, typing. Call it ego or control, the larger problem has always been me.

    This was an instance where the original topic–the constant questioing–is actually much less interesting than where I ended up: the delicate, clever button poking. She’s just so brilliant, now that we have each other figured out! I really love her work-arounds for things. Even the food checking.

    As for the extra load of adoptive mother guilt: OMG!!!

  6. Sarah Kate says:

    Thankyou for replying. I’m not an adoptive mother. Not even a mother. And I have compassion for abandoned girls that is probably idealistic, but not without a basis. The reason I said something is because I’m always trying to understand and I think about it a lot. Because I only get a snippet of your life and your blog primarily focuses on Rory and bonding, I’ve no doubt I get the wrong idea. I probably should read some of your
    other stuff on slate. I really enjoy the success stories, the first actual playdate, the reading video, the photos with a smile. Perhaps there could be more of those? It’s the perils of observing something from afar with so little information. I seem to have a soft spot for her, for some reason. I really do think I get the wrong impression because you are brave enough to be so honest. I feel a little guilty for speaking out and I certainly meant no harm. I’m just trying to understand. I’m Australian and apparently we are not always as subtle as we could be!

  7. Sarah Kate says:

    Thanks also for your comment, Shirlee. If the focus was on any of the other children or I got a similar vibe from another blog or RL life family situation, I assure you I would have the same compassion but perhaps not in such a complicated way.

  8. Tiffani says:

    I just wanted to say that this is the Very First Time I’ve ever commented on a blog, but I’ve been reading yours for quite a while. We adopted 2 older girls from China, most recently an 8 year old in 2009, and what you write about feeling is ME, although different issues. I wonder daily why the testing bothers me so much, why do we do this dance everyday and when can we stop dancing and just be still. So, thanks so much for putting it into words and sharing.

  9. KJ (aka Lola Granola) says:

    It’s fine–no, great. Thanks for commenting, and for reading. I’ve actually been thinking it’s time to try to re-balance the blog with more of my other kids (it actually predates Rory, but she sure does get a disproportionate share of ink now) , and more good stuff, or at least just stuff. In any case, absolutely no harm done–I’m delighted you’re here.

  10. Mike says:

    I am not normally the type to post comments. I lurk. I have followed your blog (because my wife linked it to our blog) and I have always enjoyed it. You are one of the most REAL people I have read. You don’t always like your kids but you always love them. You don’t put out the “correct” version all the time, you put out the real one. Others out there who have actually gone through the adoption process can identify with what you have faced, and deal with on a daily basis. I wish I could say I were sorry but the reason I posted this was because other comments annoyed me. I have no idea of knowing but they seem to come from people who have no clue what it is like, let alone the impression they leave by posting. If some people want to put forth that they always like everyone all the time (especially their children) then who is kidding whom?

  11. Sarah Kate says:

    Thanks for having me! I think with that cleared up I will learn even more from your blog. There are reasons I’m researching these things and it takes a while to put it all together. Cheers.

  12. Sarah Kate says:

    She hasn’t updated for a good long while, but I found this blog fascinating. Marji is a single mother with four from China and she had similar issues with her 4th, Nora. Nora was also in a foster family before coming to America and the attachment issues Marji dealt/deals with seemed to often parallel yours with Rory.


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