We are now 7 weeks in. We are getting to the point where we are ironing out ALL the logistics. And I never knew how many things there were to schedule. When and where doctors, counselor, mother and social worker visits occur. What time we need to get up to be on time to school. Who picks London up from school on which days. Who is going to be at which soccer game. Who is going to bring the camera and dinner to the soccer game. Even defining the words we use around the house. When I say “your hoodie is in your laundry basket,” I mean the clean laundry basket, not the dirty clothes basket. I never realized it but there is a distinction in my mind between the two baskets. Something doesn’t become “laundry” until it is clean. Until then it is “dirty clothes.”
We are realizing the differences in our cultures. We didn’t realize that public school in TN was so vastly different from the private schools we attended just down the street. Did you know at the beginning of a basket ball season they have a Jamboree. That’s a gathering of several teams to play several games at one time to kick off the season. I thought only Boy Scouts and bears had jamborees. Who knew? Did you know that middle school has a homecoming dance? Did you know that Doritos are their own food group? Me neither. Did you realize that there are gangs? In middle school? Apparently so.
She is realizing that not all cookies come from a Pillsbury tube and not all waffles come from a box in the freezer. She is learning that sodas have LOTS of sugar and Scott and Kelly don’t really eat a lot of kid food, like macaroni and cheese or beef jerky or even PopTarts.
We are trying to figure out how to shelter her from all the pressures and bad influences coming at her. Unhealthy food, movies, music, TV, magazines, kids at her school, her mom’s opinion all support her doubts about herself. We are trying to introduce her to good music and media. We are trying to reiterate everyday that she is enough, just the way she is.
Sometimes she tells us we are “so mean,” but we just grin and know that someday she will appreciate the boundaries. Other times she can’t sit close enough to me on the sofa and she asks me to play with her hair. You can tell she just needs love and attention.
We’ve gotten little feedback from her except the occasional “I love you too” or sheepish grin. But we have gotten feedback from both our agency and DCS (Department of Children’s Services) that we are doing a good job. They seem pleasantly surprised that we have gone so long without a blowup of some kind. We are hoping it doesn’t happen, but won’t be surprised if there is some kind of event. We don’t know what or when it will be, but we have a plan for when it happens, if it happens.
We are realizing that the occasional emotional outbursts are not really about the situation at hand. They are many times symptoms of deeper issues. She is sometimes reminded by current events that we don’t witness of memories or bad experiences that we were not part of. It takes time and some tears to get to the root of an issue. We can’t imagine the pain and hurt she has seen, so sometimes it takes us by surprise when she is extra sensitive to seeing a homeless person or seeing a fight at school. It beautiful to know she is still sensitive and caring. But it is scary and intimidating to think she worries it may be her turn next.
Our goals are to, first, make her feel as secure and safe as possible, second, to help her live up to her potential, and third, EAT MORE VEGETABLES. I think we are off to a good start!