Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's Part Hard, Hard to Remember, It's Part Hard to Say, Parts Unknown, Unknown Forever*

One of the most frustrating things about parenting ~ in particular about parenting a child who has not always been one's own child ~ is that you can be going through life, thinking that things are okay, and then ~ WHACK ~ you get kicked in the teeth.

I've had a "kicked in the teeth" sort of week with Lana.

I think a lot of mommy blogs and adoption blogs tend to focus on the positive, and that's completely okay. But, this blog is primarily for me, it's my space, and there are times when I have to talk about the hard parts, if only for my own sanity.

I truly believed that Lana was ready to be away from Husband and I for a week while we went on vacation. I truly believed that she was going to be fine, hanging out with her grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins.

Part of the reason I believed that was because she spent a week away from Husband and I last summer. She went on vacation with my mom and my brother and my aunt and Gabe and one of her cousins.

I think the key difference was that, in that case, Lana left US, to go have an adventure with her Grandma and her Uncle J~. And in this case, WE left HER.

That was an enormous difference, in Lana's mind. Evidently. As near as I can tell.

All last week, she misbehaved in totally unacceptable ways. When she was called out on this misbehavior, she would begin to cry and wail, "I love you, I love you, Mommy, I love you, Daddy, I love you, I love you."

It was kind of weird, to be totally honest.

So we would respond, "we love you, too, but you cannot __________ (fill in the blank with whatever bad behavior she was doing.)"

There was a lot of crying, and whining and stomping. There were unreasonable demands (some of which were highly amusing. For example, "I WANT TO GO TO A JAPANESE RESTAURANT RIGHT THIS SECOND OR I WILL SCREAM.") (As IF I would take a screaming 6 year old out for sushi. Not in this lifetime.) (The thing that she wants at Japanese restaurants is tempura shrimp and steamed dumplings. She will eat sushi but she doesn't like it, and it's too expensive to feed to anyone who doesn't REALLY enjoy it, you know?)

The bad behavior came to a head on Sunday. She was in a terrible mood. She had a friend over for a playdate and was very bossy to her. The girls ended their playdate on a happy note (after I told her she needed to stop being so bossy), but when her friend left, there were more tears.

Late in the evening, she told me that she wished Gabriel would die. I kind of lost it when she said that to me. I did not deal with it well. I had to walk away from her because I felt like she had stuck a knife in my heart and twisted it all around.

In the end I told her she wasn't ever going to be allowed to leave her bedroom until she apologized to me and Gabriel. (There was a lot of screaming coming from her bedroom until she finally emerged and apologized. Her apology was half-hearted. I honestly don't have a clue how else I should have handled this.)

Before bed, she cried for forty-five minutes about hating her school situation. (She loves kindergarten, but she hates her after-Kindergarten program. I will concede that I am also unhappy with the after-Kindergarten program. I just don't have any other options at this point, and she has several friends who attend the program. It's only for another month. She's going to spend the summer at home with Husband and Gabriel, and then, when she starts First Grade, I will put her on the bus in the morning (as I do now) and she will come home on the bus with Gabe in the afternoon, and Husband will be home from school when they get here. So, I understand that she's not happy with the situation, but I cannot fix it for another month.)

Then she cried that everyone hates her, she hates everyone, and everyone is mean to her. She cried herself to sleep. She was up and down all night, screaming and crying. It was like one of the nights when she had only been with us a few months, screaming, anger and refusing to allow us to comfort her. (Normally, when she wakes in the middle of the night, she will allow us to take her to bed with us and she'll sleep between us and calm down. But, Sunday night, she screamed at us to go away, not to touch her, to leave her alone. She screamed that she wanted to stop crying but couldn't. She screamed that she was hurting, but couldn't say where or what hurt. It was incredibly frustrating. And exhausting. And sad.)

But yesterday, when she woke up, she was excited to go to school. She ate breakfast and put on her shoes and put her lunch in her backpack without any trouble. When I picked her up after school, she was in a good mood. She ate dinner happily and she and I went for a walk through the neighborhood, and then she played Pixos with Gabe until bed.

When I went into her room to sing her a song and tuck her in, she was under the covers. I said, "Where is my Lana?"

From under the blankets she said, "I am a monster and I ate Lana because she is a mean girl."

I decided to play along. So I said, "Listen to me, Mr. Monster. You bring me back my sweet Lana."

"No, I ate her," came a voice from under the blankets.

"Mr. Monster, if you do not bring me back my sweet Lana, I will cry," I said, and then I made theatrical weeping noises.

From under the blanket came the sound of fake vomiting. (Evidently, the monster was throwing Lana back up?) She popped out of the blankets and said, "I escaped from the monster's stomach, Mommy."

I crawled in bed with her and snuggled with her and sang her a song. In the darkness she looked at me and said, "What would you do, if I disappeared for real, mommy?"

I looked at her, and said, "Lana, if you disappeared, I would FREAK OUT."

"For real? You would freak out?" she asked me. "Would you cry?"

"Yes, Lana, I would cry. And I would look for you and look for you, and I would be really, really upset."

So she said, "Okay mommy, I won't disappear." She fell asleep without tears, which felt like a victory after the horror of Sunday night.

I just worry, that there will be more times when the monster will rear his ugly head again. And I feel like I'm never quite sure when to expect a visit. These hard parts...can be really hard.


*The Tragically Hip, 700 Ft. Ceiling


Blogger thecurryseven said...

I had been wondering what was up. I'm glad that things seem to have calmed down. I wish that I had some great words of wisdom, but I don't. I also wish our children were equipped with warning lights so we could at least have an inkling that a storm was brewing. I do have an awful lot of sympathy...it's just no fun dealing with a wonky child!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009 4:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm there with you girl. Sorry for the setback, so sad...so hard. I analyze the sh*t out of everything trying to anticipate potential setbacks. My boys are going to Iowa for 2 weeks this summer and I am terrified.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 4:11:00 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I am so sorry that you've all been dealing with this. I'm sure having you leave was difficult for Lana, and all of you dealing with Lana when you returned sounds incredibly tough. I don't have any words of wisdom, but I did want to thank you for posting this--I need to read about things like this. My DH and I are leaving for an anniversary vacation and I am terrified about how my 2 1/2 year old son (from Ethiopia, home about a year) will react to us leaving and us coming home. It's good to read another perspective on what we might be dealing with so that we know that's a possible reaction. So thanks again for not sugar-coating everything. Those blogs make it difficult to be realistic about issues relating to adoption!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 8:04:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's so hard. I'm really sorry. I don't know exactly how that feels, just because my little guy is, well, little, but I can sort of imagine. i think you handled everything wonderfully. And I think it's really great that you shared with everyone b/c like you said, there's lots of positive, which is nice, but the real is important, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 6:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I am just impressed and amazed that Lana was able to metaphorically express to you what she was feeling with the "monster" in her bed. That is one deep little girl you have.

I have no great answers. I don't even know how to properly deal with my bio daughter's emotional twists and turns, let alone throwing in the older-child adoption issues. But I think you handled the week very well and clearly Lana feels she can trust you enough to show you the "monster" and then also come back and be your little girl. And that has to be a very good sign.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 9:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to Japan soon and worry about some of the same things, though my son is only two and his dad will be here with him. Though it was hard for her, I think there's something to be said that now she did at least see that even when you do go, you come back. You'll always come back to her.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 3:42:00 PM  
Blogger Trying Traditional said...

What an emotional trip for you both, it sounds like it is ending on a good note, though.

If it is any consolation, we go through some of this with our older two (bio) girls. Nothing to the degree that you describe, but wow can they get emotional quick and leave us scratching our heads in the wake. I know as an adoptive mom, we all second guess things, analyze, etc....I know I do. Hopefully just a tad of it was just, well, Lana being a girl. From what I hear they are pretty different from raising a boy.

The monster thing, btw, wow. That girl is a communicator! Hopefully through it she was able to fully comprehend that your there forever and always, her's whole-heartedly, no matter what and perfectly happy to have her, never wanting her to go.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 9:56:00 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

I am sorry G. It is soo hard, everything and little girls are soo damn emotional, drama queens and good at expressing feelings in ways that don't seem to make sense but totally do. The good thing, I think, is that Lana is actually able to communicate some of her fears to you now, unlike when you were first home.

hoping for a smooth few weeks now..

Thursday, April 23, 2009 2:10:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

really appreciate your honesty and the fact that you don’t make everything out to be the perfect situation. I am sorry you had such a rough time with your girl. I have a child of extremes too (without the adoption aspect) so I can relate a little to how you are feeling. I am glad that things are better now, it can be so emotionally draining and so exhausting. Sending hugs your way.

Sunday, April 26, 2009 2:03:00 AM  

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