Tuesday, December 23, 2008

take off your shoes and stay awhile!

We went to see family for a few days and are back in time for our Christmas celebration. DS2 was in rare form for us and continues to be so...I guess there aren't days off around Christmas for good behavior!
We saw a child at a fast food restaurant today and it got me thinking about something I think about often? What is really my job in raising my children? The kid was wild. Jumping on and off tables, running up and down the rows of chairs around him. His mom (I assume) was oblivious. She even wrapped up his food and took it "in case you get hungry later". Yet, she didn't seem frazzled or annoyed. I don't know if I understand it. I do believe that kids are kids for a reason...they should have fun. But, I do not believe it's my job to make the whole world their playground. There are rules they must learn to follow. I am blessed - my kids are VERY well behaved out in the world (they save the good stuff for home). I constantly feel that I'm being looked at for expecting good behavior. Am I nuts? Does everyone else feel that kids knocking clothes off racks or speeding through a grocery store on those stupid wheelie shoes is OK? Then I think, maybe I'm not having enough fun???
The moment of the day at my house is all about shoes. I love shoes...would buy millions if I didn't have to pay my credit card. BUT, I don't want them on in my house - yuck. So much yucky stuff gets drug in. So, DS2 had on his shoes 2.5 hours after we got home. I joked to him "geez, it's like you are prepared to run out at a moment's notice"...then I noticed. His face that is. It's true - that's what he feels. Fight or flight is true and for him - it's always flight. He finds safety in having his shoes on. Even when they are off...he has them close by...I just never connected it. After some hugs and tugs (on his shoes of course), I think we moved on. But, this will be back...it always comes back. How do you go about convincing a kid that he's safe?


  1. Ya know, M, it's just not easy finding balance as a parent. (or as a child) On one hand, we want our kids to be thoughtful, neat, respectful and engaging. If we were to actually get that, it would likely be surreal I think. On the other hand, we want them to be kids. Kids that do kid things. Have wild fun. Smile and giggle. Not have a care in the world. Life gets in the way of both, I'm afraid.

    But onto more serious things. The "fight or flight" metaphor you mention really is quite common with kids who have suffered loss, neglect and trauma. When our girls first came home three years ago, they couldn't go ANYWHERE without a bag of their things with them. Just going out for a meal was a major luggage deal it seemed. Further, the older was in a constant state of mental arousal. Her brain had been wired that way from all the hurt she suffered in her previous life. It was about survival and she's very good at that. In her case, the hyper-arousal pretty much made good sleep impossible...for her or for us. For her, it wasn't about shoes; it was about not being alone.

    While it's likely that you have attachment at play to some level with your DD and DS, I have to mention that trauma needs to be part of the discussion and therapy, too. I have no doubt from our conversations and your postings that it could very well be a factor--even what you write here today points in that direction...and the reason it's important to keep it on the table is that some therapies, treatments and parental techniques that focus on attachment can be very much misaligned with the effects of trauma.

    Convincing a kid who mentally faces and re-faces trauma that they are safe now is darn hard work. To this day, both of our girls worry about "being sent back". No matter how many times they are told that in no uncertain terms they are stuck with us (and we with they), it's still in the back of their minds. In fact, it's become more of an issue with the younger lately...and that's really hard to see coming from a 9 year old that has been home with us for so long.

    As always, you have friends near and far. So keep on posting. It's good for you and good for your kids...and the rest of your family. And it may help others, too. ;)

  2. Wow, it's like we are living parallel lives in some ways. My DS was the same as yours, orphanage favorite in two orphanages (he got moved right before the adoption) acted different for different caretakers, charmed everyone. He is also an angel in public, and saves the "good" stuff for home. It's so funny how crazy that can make a mom! Anyway, just wanted to let you know you are not alone!

  3. I just came to your blog from the adoption forum and I can totally relate to your feeling about your job as a mom. I struggle finding a balance between letting my kids be kids and wanting them to be well behaved. And we got grief about this, especially the first few years we had our youngest kids. It would probably be easier to just let them be - but I have visions of them becoming incredibly annoying adults (or worse, non-functioning adults) and I just can't do it. I may not succeed at helping them become well-adjusted adults (given their rough beginning) but I'm going to do everything in my power to try.