Dinosaurs

Parenting is hard.  The good usually outweighs the bad, but sometimes you’re too tired to notice.  Kids test you, push you, you lose your temper and then question yourself and your decision to be a parent in the first place.  I exaggerate (a bit), but I know and realize that being a parent to any kid is hard.

Parenting some kids can be humiliating, especially if they are older and people don’t know their story.  I just had to cancel a dentist appointment for three kids ten minutes before we were supposed to be there because one of them lost his marbles over writing five spelling words for homework.

I pride myself on (usually) being on time, at least I used to be in a former life.  I kept appointments, I ran the show, my kids listened to me.  I have become much more laid back with Charlie and tried to stay focused on what is really important, and his felt security in our family is growing and he loves us very much.

Yesterday we read a book about a dinosaur that was anxious.  Did you know that when a dinosaur worried that they were about to get eaten, they did one of three things?  They fought, they ran or they froze.  (Fight Flight or Freeze.)  He said he does that too when he is scared or feels anxious.  All last night and this morning he talked about “the switch” inside and how he felt like it might flip, but since he realized it was happening, he could take a deep breath and make it stop.  This was fantastic.  I was so encouraged.

Then homework happened today.  It wasn’t even hard.  It should have taken ten minutes, but he did not want to do it.  I sat beside him being very patient and then after being on the receiving end of a bit of verbal abuse, I told him I would go sit in the den and said I was available if he needed me.  He started throwing stuff and I could tell from the sounds that he was making a huge mess, but I stayed calm, feeling quite proud of myself.  We have been here plenty of times, and I know once he calms down, he will be as sweet as sugar and clean up the mess without even being told.

But it kept going, and kept going, and then it was time to go to the dentist.  Cool mama wasn’t feeling too cool anymore.  What in the world was I going to do?  I hate to be late, will they charge me for cancelling THREE appointments with ten minutes notice?  I told him we were leaving.  Sam and Kate had a dentist appointment to be at, and he could stay if he wanted, but would have to go by himself another time.  And the switch flipped.  He lost it.  I’ll spare the details, but many adoptive parents don’t have to use their imaginations, they have been there.  In dinosaur speak, he fought.  It wasn’t pretty.

I was shaking as I called the dentist.  I was embarrassed that my reason was so weird and pathetic, that I don’t have control over my children all of the time.  I hung up and had a little cry.  Of course I shouldn’t have told him I was leaving without him.  I was just panicked and desperate and knew forcing him in the car would not have gone well.  But really, it was just a dental appointment.  

Yes, I like to be on time and keep my commitments.  And though it is hard to understand why something as small as homework could/should turn him into a dinosaur, sometimes it just does.  Once he has disappointed himself, he worries he has disappointed me.  And disappointing me is really scary.  His fear response is primal and so intense that once it takes over, I really believe he can’t help it.

A few minutes later, the little stinker that I was so crazy mad at, said he was so sorry, and Oh! What a mess.  Don’t worry, Mom.  I clean it.  We both calmed down and he has been buttering me up ever since.  I don’t know who I feel more sorry for, him or me.  But Sam and Kate are happy, since they ended up not having to go to the dentist today.