Continued from Adoption = Progress, Part 1
Our first five years in about five minutes (each).
I sit, chin in hands, watching Despicable Me for the 674th time.
The boy and I sit on opposite ends of the couch, each leaning against pillows with our feet in the middle. The space between us yawns. Our girl, even further away, sprawls on her pink bean bag. She won’t sit with us.
This movie has been the soundtrack (movietrack?) to our lives. If you haven’t seen it, click the link above for a general storyline. This year has been better.
The adoption finalized in May. We moved to a new school in September; their special education department is phenomenal. My children will get the help they need. The school agreed that he may need an aide but the principal wants our boy to try school without one. She told him she believes in him. I watched his little chest swell as he shook her hand and promised his best effort. So far, so good.
He has a male teacher this year. I hope he’ll respond well. Thanks to the ineffective, unconcerned or downright malicious representatives of the female gender he’s had in his life, he arrived with an unhealthy disdain of women. I’m the exception, but it’s been a tough road. He still responds better to Hubby, but he listens to me most of the time.
I’ve developed a persona we call “Military Mama.” She arrives whenever he needs a drill sergeant (which was often, but she’s making fewer appearances these days). I think he actually likes it.
Someone once told me, “If you put sheep in a pasture without fencing, they’ll bunch in a group, terrified. If you put them in a pasture with fencing, they’ll spend all day reaching through the fence for the grass on the other side, pushing on the posts and testing for weakness. Kids are like that. They like boundaries.”
This kid definitely likes boundaries. And testing them.
He holds his belly, laughing hard at some predicament Gru (one of the main characters) has created. From his end of the couch, he moves his little socked feet to touch my toes but doesn’t look at me.
I stare at our feet in wonder.
I sit on the couch, chin in hands.
I’m in my usual spot, but this time our boy is cuddled up with Hubby in the big chair. They’ve come so far; the boy now adores his daddy. Also, this time we watch Despicable Me 2. When it comes to movies, these kids are loyal and consistent. If only school involved Minions. Hmmmm….liiiiiight-buuuuulb! (Movie reference, sorry.)
This year, our son’s teacher is a longtime friend of ours. I’m a little terrified she may never speak to us again, but she’s a veteran, so I have hope.
Last year was sporadic; the teacher shared our boy’s love of science and we saw him blossom in some areas. He didn’t have the patience or training to deal with his difficult behavior, which was unfortunate. In spite of those incidents, we ended the year as friends and he seems interested in our boy’s continued success. He was part of the group that recommended this teacher.
The teacher calls me. “We’re going on a field trip. I know you attended all the trips last year as a one-on-one for your son, but I’d like to try this trip without you. We’re going to the military museum to look at Civil War artifacts. They have areas for all the major wars; it’s all very contained and we’ll be indoors the whole time. He’s been successful in the classroom, over all, and I think he can handle it.” I’m shocked, but agree.
I spend the entire field trip day alternating between fretting and fervent prayer.
She calls me after school. “He did great! He stayed right by my side. Our only minor issue was the artillery room.” I hold my breath and wait. Had he climbed a display? Tried to touch something? Or—please, no—tried to pocket a bullet?
“We’re not allowed to talk about guns at school, you know. When we entered the artillery room, he had his lips pressed together and his eyes were just pleading. I told him, ‘in here, you can talk about guns all you want.’ He was so relieved, I had to laugh.”
After the call, I do a little happy dance, and our old German Shepherd leans against me in reproach. He thinks I have no rhythm.
As a reward, we watch a movie. Yes, on a school night.
If you’re not familiar with it, DM2 is about an adoptive family gaining a mother. At the end of the movie, Agnes (the youngest child) says, “She kisses my boo boos, she braids my hair…My new mom Lucy is beyond compare.” Tonight, my son quotes along with her, replacing “Lucy” with my name. He looks at me and says, “I love you, Mama.”
I stare at him, eyes brimming.
Writing 101 Day 13 assignment: tell a story through a series of vignettes (short, episodic scenes or anecdotes) that together read as variations on the same theme.
We are watching Despicable Me 2. The movie is funny in itself, but the best part is listening to the kids laugh. Some parts elicit a giggle, while others bring a full-on belly laugh. Watching Gru and his minions’ antics brings back memories of our first few months.
When the kids first arrived, Despicable Me 1 was their favorite movie. They watched it anytime we had movie time. They watched it in bits and pieces on the rare days it did not take hours to complete their kindergarten and first grade homework (which should have taken 30 minutes max). They watched it in full on movie night with pizza and soda (every Friday). They watched it on Saturday afternoon. They watched it on Sunday afternoon. We basically had the movie memorized.
I think, on a subconscious level (aside from the fact that the movie is genius and hilarious) they loved the movie because it tells their story: children who were abandoned to a horrible, uncaring individual, then taken to a home they thought might be a good fit, then taken from the home by social workers. The children think they are unwanted, but then, they are rescued and adopted.
Our kids spent their first five (she) and three (he) years locked in a bedroom by their biological mother, The next two years were comprised of at least five moves. In one of the homes, there was an older child who threatened to kill them in their sleep (gee, maybe this is why our boy couldn’t sleep more than 3 hours a night). The children were made aware (either by the social workers or the foster parents) that the reason they were moved was their horrendous behavior. By the time they arrived on our back porch (dropped off by a temporary foster parent, sans social worker who should have been with them), they were thoroughly convinced that no one could want them.
I became slightly concerned about the Despicable Me attachment (after watching it for the 30th time), but since it ends well I figured it might be a good thing to just let them watch until they moved on. They didn’t move on. After the 130th viewing, I checked with the counselor. He said it would be okay; just let them watch. They would eventually find another movie they liked. And, after viewing #335, they did.
Watching Gru and his minions’ antics reminds me of just how far they’ve come. We’ve come.
They’ve made so much progress since even Despicable Me 2 came out. We saw it in theaters, and when the minions became purple monsters, our boy hopped in my lap quicker than scat. He looped his little arms around my neck and held on tight. For the entire purple minion sequence.
After the movie, he asked me to “not get” the DVD. (He has since changed his mind.) Tonight, over a year later, neither child is concerned. It’s a movie. They know everything goes well in the end. Just like their lives; everything will work out. Eventually.
Post Script: I had already finished my post, but I have to add this. At the end of the movie, Agnes (the youngest child) says, “She kisses my boo boos, she braids my hair…My new mom Lucy is beyond compare.” Tonight, at the same time, my son was quoting along with her, but replaced “Lucy” with my name, then looked at me and said, “I love you, Mama.” If that won’t melt your heart, well, I can’t help you.
**And although this is post is not a plug for Despicable Me, I highly recommend both movies.
All images from Google.