Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

   PROGRESS---  that's what we've been seeing around our house the past 2 weeks.  It is always good to make progress....  but it can often seem bad in the process, and honestly, in these past 2 weeks, it has often looked  ugly.  There is absolutely no reason at all to try to convince anyone that adoption of any sort is a breeze.  So, I won't try to smooth over the wrinkles and pretend that all has gone extremely well here lately.  Some things just have to get worse before they can get better.
   Now, when we are in the middle of an ugly tantrum or a battle of the wills, I don't reach for my camera to document the moment!  So, most certainly all of the pictures that I post will be of the "good" rather than the "bad" or the "ugly."  But, I will still let you know that those times without smiles on our faces are there.
    However.... would I change it for even a minute????  Not a chance. 
    Have we been blessed beyond measure in ways that we didn't even think of?   Absolutely.

    I almost titled this post, "The Way it Should Be" because -- when you really stop and think about it  --  it very honestly should  be difficult for a child who has lived 9 years in an institution to have difficulty learning that he is a very welcome member of our home, and that all of the members of our home work together, have responsibilities, have requirements, and must work together to keep things going smoothly.

    Progress --  lots of steps in the right direction.  Jonathan is learning some of the boundaries both inside and outside our home.  When he first came home, he needed someone with him all day long to ensure both his safety (so that he didn't head outside alone and get hurt doing something dangerous) and to ensure that he understood what was an "OK" thing to do (play with toys in his room) and what was not  an OK thing to do (take all the things out of his sister's closet or dresser drawers).  It was very necessary to have a permanent "chaperone" all the time.  That is very understandable, and it was a really good thing because we had countless opportunities to communicate.  He and I talked about everything we were doing.  He learned LOTS of English because there was constant interaction.  However, soon we realized that he had gotten used to the idea that he had someone who was sort of a "captive audience."  He had a constant playmate!!  While I certainly enjoy spending time playing with him (I've climbed more trees in the past 7 weeks that I had in the past many years put together! :)  ) and it is extremely important in encouraging his attachment to me, ---there were a couple of drawbacks.  He got to the point where he wouldn't entertain himself very well (which we knew he had been capable of doing!), and he wouldn't respect the times that I was trying to talk to someone else....  he was used to my (or anyone, for that matter) talking to him, listening to him.  So, we've had to work on those types of things.  There is progress in that area now, and more will come with time.

     More progress has come with Jonathan's being able to express emotion.  He was home for over 5 weeks before he ever cried when he got hurt.  And, trust me, he had been hurt countless  times while learning to ride the bike.  We doctored scrapes, cuts, bruises, etc.  -- all while he was keeping up a nervous sort of laughter.  We knew that those things were hurting him.  But, many children who have been raised in an institution have long since given up crying about things.  When babies who have loving parents start to cry, the parent takes care of their needs.  When babies in orphanages cry, they find that the caretakers do not generally respond....  there are just too many little ones to care for.  So, after a while of crying with no response to their needs, they give up the effort.
    About 2 weeks ago, I was outside playing with Jonathan, and he fell really hard.  I knew that it had to have hurt very badly.  I ran to him immediately, and he started to cry.  He let me hold him and soothe him.  He didn't cry for long at all, but it was SO huge.
    Other emotions have been coming as well....  anger coming on stronger and stronger.  Each week that goes by, he expresses his anger in a more definite way.  When Jonathan is needing discipline, we never use "time out."  He has lived his life isolated in many ways from examples of what appropriate behavior is.  He needs "time IN"...  which is time spent in a chair near me (not being sent away from me) while he considers what behavior needs to be improved upon.  However, now that he has started expressing his anger so loudly, he and I have to go to his room together for his "time in," to keep him from totally disrupting everyone else's school time, meal time, or whatever.  One day while we were there in his room, I drew pictures of faces showing different emotions.  This seemed to actually get through to him.  The first day he wouldn't point to which emotion he was feeling, but the next day, he did.  And once he "told" me how angry he was, he started to get over it.  I'd much rather him let his emotions out than keep them wrapped up inside where they eat away at him.  So, now the challenge is teaching him to properly express those emotions and learn the self -control necessary to choose to do that.

    So, the progress is good, and we just live by faith through the bad and ugly parts of it ....  hanging onto the faith that one day, it won't look so bad and ugly anymore!!

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