Anyone else get a little irked when casual acquaintances who have nothing to do with adoption feel the need to constantly assure you that your adopted child is "normal"? Call me cranky (because I am) but I find this practice highly irritating especially when you are just trying to have a normal conversation. Here are three scenes from recent days:
Making small talk with other Moms and telling amusing stories:
Me: Eli is getting into everything lately. Yesterday I caught him washing his hands in the toilet. Thankfully there was nothing else in there. (Me laughing)
Other Mother: Sounds like a normal 3 year old to me! You know that's completely normal, right?
Me: Based on the fact that I also have a 4 year old boy, I had a feeling it was but thanks for confirming.
Talking with another Mom at a party about Eli's love of balloons
Me: Eli really likes balloons.
Other Mother: They must have had balloons in India.
Me: I guess they probably do. Doesn't your kid like balloons?
Other Mother: Oh yes. My son loves balloons. See, Eli is a perfectly normal little boy!
Me: Well if your son likes balloons too that's all I need to know. Excuse me while I go and cancel the next 52 weeks of play therapy I have scheduled for him. Phew. What a relief!
On the phone with an early education coordinator:
Me: I'd like to get Eli evaluated by a speech therapist.
Coordinator: What are your concerns about his speech?
Me: It is still very difficult for people to understand him and I guess I just want to know if there are things I can be doing to help him along.
Coordinator: I sense that you're anxious but you should know that English isn't Eli's first language so it's totally normal for him to have an accent.
Me: You know what, you're right! I never thought of that. I'm going to let you go now so you can call other parents and make painfully obvious statements about their kids. Ciao.
People! Can't live with them. Can't live without them.
Big week around here. On Monday the boys finally got haircuts. Haircuts = trauma for both the boys. Go figure! The process wasn't pretty
but they sure are! As an aside I wanted to mention that if anyone had told me this time last year that my biggest professional achievement of the week would be negotiating long-overdue haircuts I would have laughed in their face.
Eli turned 4 on Jan. 26. Woo hoo. Now I have two 4-year-old
boys until Murphy turns 5 on Sunday. (It's no wonder my life is a little
And let's not forget that I channeled Momastry and put a paper bag on my head when the boys were being particularly challenging. The result: they immediately stopped crying / whining / complaining but then wanted to take my paper bag and put it on their heads. When I insisted that it was my bag and not for kids they launched a fresh protest. Still it was a great distraction and very soothing for Mommy.
Next steps: draw a face on the paper bag and keep it on top of the kitchen cabinets so they can't get it.
Yesterday was freakishly nice weather so I drove the boys to a cute little playground downtown after school. If you frequent playgrounds you know that each one has its own scene determined by who hangs out there. Since it's small and rather contained, this particular playground is filled with preschoolers, newish Moms and nannies. For the most part everyone seems to know each other and their kids. Basically it's nice unless they don't know you...
The boys were having a blast just running around, climbing up the slide and
just generally acting like animals. (Better outside than in our
apartment!). As animals do, Eli got carried away wrestling and knocked Murphy down. While I was comforting Murphy I could see Eli's face change from relaxed to pouty (big lower lip pooched out). Then he put his head down on his hands and periodically peeked out with a long, sad face. When Murphy stopped crying and went back to playing I went over to ask Eli what happened. When Eli saw me he started to spit and just generally act aggressive in my direction. (More on this later). That's when it happened...a group of nannies who must have overheard me calling his name earlier said "Eli we never, ever spit. Cut it out!" I turned to make eye contact and in a second could see that 1) they thought I was the nanny 2) they thought my kids were so out of control that they felt compelled to step in. This kind of thing happens all the time and I'm always shocked (and sometimes amused) that a total stranger would think they know how to parent my child who over the past ten months has lost everything and everyone he has ever known, learned a new language and is living in a family environment for the first time ever.
Do I condone spitting? No, of course not. It's actually a huge trigger for me. I hate it! Does it happen? Yes, especially when Eli sees that it's successful in getting my attention. Although he'd prefer me to come over and lose my cool with him (Yes, this adoption / attachment stuff is messy!), he'll settle for a group of other adults who don't mind their own business.
In the past I might have tried to explain the situation to the nannies but this time I decided to keep the focus on Eli. I knew he was ashamed that he had hurt his brother and was petrified that I would shame him even more by yelling. He was deep in fight mode so I did the only thing that works. I went over to him knelt down and sat with him in this hard space. I didn't say a word. I just sat. It took just a few moments to meet my eyes which I willed with all my might to be soft and to not betray my fear, pain and humiliation. He moved closer. I took his hand and we sat some more. Eventually I started to play this little piggy with his hands. He smiled. After a few more moments he got up unprompted and apologized to Murphy. I let out my breath and the two little animals continued their play.
After retiring to a nearby bench and quietly fuming at the other adults on the playground, it occurred to me that those nannies might have done me a favor. They gave me the perfect motivation to put my ego aside and meet Eli in his hard place.
Hey everyone. After three years of craziness and drama, we are thrilled to report that we finalized our adoption of Elijah Vijesh Hall!
I truly didn't expect things to feel that different after our court hearing since I have always felt like his Mom BUT there's just something about getting the official word that makes my heart sing. Plus I've always hated that his little Indian passport has just a single name - Vijesh. Nothing against the name (I really like it!) but I have secretly been dying for him to carry his new name legally. He's ours now. He's really ours!!!