Adoption = Celebrate the Little Things
Five years ago, my personality tended toward the Pollyanna, which kept me happy and drove most of my friends a little crazy. After four years with the kids, I’m more grounded…sometimes, too grounded.
My current (un-Pollyanaish) mindset requires a regular correction from, “Dealing with the crazy behaviors and fluctuating attitudes is exhausting and annoying and I just want them to be perfect and let me have a nap without the worry they’ll deconstruct the house, start a fire in the back yard or remove each other’s fingernails.”
Peaceful ability to nap–or accomplish a task without interruption–is an unrealistic expectation and I need to get over it.
In college (when Pollyanna-me was in her prime), my mantra was, “sleep when you’re dead.” My roommate and I once stayed awake for almost 72 hours (with help from No-Doz caffeine pills and Starbucks) just to see how long we could escape slumber. That experiment ended with hallucinations and a friend sitting between us in class, hands wrapped in our long brown ponytails to keep our heads off the table. Pretty sure the professor noticed.
These days, if I ever found a No-Doz in my house, I would flush it down the toilet (don’t tell the environmentalists). I still fully support the coffee industry, although I recently heard a rumor that ‘Bucks buys coffee from growers who are outside Fair Trade and utilize questionable labor tactics, which will require further research. I may have to find a new caffeine supplier, but that’s another story.
Back to Pollyanna.
For the last few weeks, our girl has been exhibiting spontaneous new behaviors. Odd ones. And if they’re not obvious, she informs me. Full disclosure. “Mama, I don’t know why, but I ate my lip balm,” and, “I was chewing on my bed rail again, and something white came off my tooth.” Yes, my child, you chipped a tooth. “Mama, I chewed on my stuffed animal. I just had to,” or “I bit my arm. There aren’t any marks, though.”
As I’m writing this, I realize there’s a common theme…at the outset, counselors informed us we’d probably experience “phases” that the kids missed. Maybe she needs a pacifier? I’ll be asking the play therapist about that…
Part of the problem is cold weather; they don’t get outside as much, so all that un-expended energy is spent on…other…entertainments. Such as finding ways to drive Mama nuts. Many thanks, groundhog, for six more weeks of winter. (For those of you who’ve not had your coffee–this is pure sarcasm.)
Other behaviors include not washing and brushing her hair (and asking me to do it for her), an affected lisp, using “baby talk” and sucking her top lip raw. Yesterday, at the therapist’s office (which is often about correcting MY behavior), the counselor noted, “It looks like she’s using negative behaviors to get attention.” Then, with a gentle smile, she inclined her head toward me. “Her tactics appear to be working.” Our girl had employed the lisp, baby talk and theatrically licking her upper lip in quick succession, and I’d corrected her each time. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.
After the session, the counselor took me aside. “She’s obviously looking for attention, and whatever garners attention is the behavior she’ll continue. I know the regressed behavior is driving you crazy, but do your best to ignore the negative completely. Over-celebrate the positive. She’s addicted to attention, so this should work. It will be exhausting, but in the end will be worthwhile.”
“Celebrate the positive” is a tactic I already know, but in the day-to-day, I forget. Especially on days (and days-to-days) when the number of negative behaviors outweigh the positive on such a grand scale. This morning, I was determined. She walked into the kitchen, unzipping her sweater to show me, “I’m wearing short sleeves, but I have a sweater on over it.” I used every possible body language technique to communicate celebration and cried, “Yaaaaay! You followed directions and wore long sleeves since it’s cold today. GREAT JOB!!” She squinted at me. “Yes, I know.”
A bit later, after she’d informed me twice of her progress as she filled the dogs’ food bowls, she noted, “I fed the dogs.” Again, I celebrated. “Yaaaaay! You fed the dogs before we leave for school! Excellent work!” She began watching me for signs of mental instability.
I ran upstairs to brush my teeth. Hubby asked, “Everything okay in the kitchen? I heard yelling.” I told him what the counselor said, adding. “You realize I’m going to have to do this for the boy, as well, or he’s going to feel left out.” Sure enough, the third time I celebrated our girl’s accomplishment, “WONDERFUL! You brushed your hair properly today,” our boy looked at me with a sad little quirk to his mouth. “I took the dog out to do his business. How come I didn’t get a ‘yay’ or anything?”
“Sorry, buddy,” I said. “Get in the truck.” He hopped in, nimble-quick. I celebrated. He grinned.
My Pollyanna is poking her pert little nose out, sniffing the air. Things are changing? We’re playing the Glad Game again? About EVERYthing? Yeah, baby, it’s on. Time for a little Pollyanna happy dance.
I’d better blindfold Pollyanna so she doesn’t see her shadow.
We’re in for six more weeks of celebration.
Pollyanna image from Katrina Ryder’s blog, which I highly recommend.
Posted on February 4, 2015, in Adoption, parenting and tagged adopted, adoption, behavior, caffeine, celebrate, coffee, fair trade, groundhog, negative, Pollyanna, positive, Starbucks, winter. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.