It’s not that there hasn’t been anything about which to write. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write it. But homeschooling, and Relief Society President-ing, and normal parenting, and increased migraine activity, and . . . you know how it goes. The blog takes a big ol’ back seat.
However, there are things I never want to forget.
We have our last post-placement visit in two weeks. A couple (few) weeks after that we will finalize Spuds’ adoption. We’ve been talking with him about that most evenings at bedtime for a few weeks now. Bedtime is the only time he’ll even remotely open up, even just a little bit. Mostly when we talk about it he just wants to talk about what restaurant he wants to go to for dinner afterwards. His last family ate out. A lot. We’ve taken him out to eat a couple of times in the past five-and-a-half months (not counting the big trip out west), so he’s really excited about the idea of restaurant food. Ribs. He wants ribs. So be it.
He has also asked if his previous family will come to his adoption. Stab me through the heart. It’s not that it hurts my feelings that he wants them to be there, it’s that I hurt for him because I know they won’t be there. Even if they lived two towns over, they probably wouldn’t come. On the one hand, I don’t blame them. Just rip off that Band Aid and be done with it, right? On the other hand? They are still important to him. These people who were convinced that he was not bonded with them at all are important to him. So, while they are done with him, he is not done with them. That hurts me for him. He doesn’t really get it right now. I just tell him that they live too far away and won’t be able to make it (which is true). I don’t think now is the time to tell him that they just are done with him. Someday he’ll figure that out, I supposed. I don’t look forward to that day.
I worry about the finalization. Things have been so unbelievably good. He’s only had one meltdown since the Utah trip, and, though I had to restrain him, it wasn’t as bad as the meltdowns he had on the trip. Yeah, he tried to scratch me. I think he tried to bite me once when I wasn’t paying too much attention because I was answering another kid’s schoolwork question. But overall? It wasn’t horrible. I mean, I could answer a kids’ schoolwork question, after all. There wasn’t the yelling and screaming. He called me a liar and told me to shut up several times. He tried to kick me. A lot. My kids are going to have some great childhood memories: “Hey, Tank Boy, could you come over here and hold your brother’s feet for a few minutes?” Tank Boy is a trooper. And? He’s very strong. After Spuds calmed down and bit, and I told the Tank to let go, the kicking eventually started back up. At that point I made a game out of it.
“Are you playing footsie with me? Really? Most boys don’t play footsie with their mom. But hey, if that’s what you want to do . . . ” and I started chasing his feet with my feet as I dodged the kicks. There might have been a few rounds of “Spuds and [high school girl he has a crush on] sitting in a tree . . . ” followed by the explanation that it really would be more appropriate to play footsie with that girl. But, you know, whatever . . .
By the time that tantrum was done, he not only conceded defeat and went back to the school work he’d decided he didn’t want to do, he was laughing. That counts firmly as a trauma mamma win, right?
Anyway, so there was that. I think *that* was triggered by some cards he got from former teachers back in his home state. I appreciate that they sent him cards. He needs to know that he was cared about back there, that he is missed now. About a week after *that*, he wrote back to the teachers. We’ll see how things go if they write again.
But I worry about the finalization. I worry that maybe it will hit him that his previous family is really, truly out of the picture. I worry that the stark reality, the fact that he was given away, will hit him. I worry that he will lose his . . . sh . . . well, you know. It’s a legitimate worry.
So we’ve been talking about it most evenings. He’s never had much to say beyond choosing a restaurant and asking if his other parents would be there. He has expressed some worry about meeting the judge. Tonight he said he is worried that the judge might yell at him. Knowing that he can remember his previous adoption proceedings, I asked him if a judge has ever yelled at him before.
“No, but a police has.”
“When has a police officer yelled at you?” I asked. “At school?”
“No, at [the other parents’] house.”
“Really? What happened?”
“He yelled at me to sit down and said he was going to put kid-sized handcuffs on me.”
“Why? Why was he there?”
“[The other parents] called the police.”
“Your parents called the police on you? Why???”
“Because I didn’t want to sweep the floor.”
“So you had a fit?”
Through further questioning and cajoling, he admitted he had been yelling and screaming, had tried opening a window to get out, had had a really royal tantrum. I don’t know if he was physically violent. Probably. Also? He was seven. The dude is little for his age. LITTLE. And they called the cops. And the cop came in and yelled at him to sit down. Safe to assume, I think, that cops don’t have any training on how to deal with a traumatized child.
“So you didn’t want to sweep the floor and you overreacted?” I said.
“Yes,” he sighed, looking somewhat crestfallen.
“And then they called the cops which means they overreacted” I said.
He sat up a bit, eyes wide. “I don’t know. Did they?”
“Yes, buddy. They did. You overreacted and they overreacted. It doesn’t make them bad people, it just means they didn’t handle that situation the best they could have.”
He looked like a little weight had been taken off his shoulders. I think he’s still a bit trepidatious about meeting the judge, and I’m sure there are still all kinds of unresolved feelings about being readopted, but some blame got spread around, off his shoulders and on to someone else’s, and he looked relieved. Maybe a bit bewildered, too.
As the husband and I walked out of his bedroom, we were yelling at each other with our eyes, “Who in the hell calls the police on a seven-year-old having a tantrum???” I mean, if he had been threatening them with a knife or something, maayyybeee. But we know that didn’t happen because they told us themselves the knives were always locked up. I want to believe there is another side to this story in which calling the police on an angry, traumatized seven-year-old makes sense. I don’t want to judge them or demonize them. I especially don’t want to lessen them in Spuds’ eyes, because they matter to him, and they did do a lot to help him while he was in their care. But I’m still baffled and bewildered. I haven’t walked in their shoes. I don’t know the day-in-day-out, nitty-gritty details and emotional toil they experienced over the course of their years with him. I worry that, with finalization, I will start to find out.
Right now, though, I’m choosing to let my hope be greater than my worry. Based on what we’ve seen and experienced so far, I have fantabulous amounts of hope for Spuds and for his and our future. We are at that point where it feels like he was never not a part of our family. Did we really go to Orlando last winter without him? How can that be? Wait, he doesn’t know about our traditional Christmas Day Nerf war? Doesn’t seem possible. He is ours. He has always been ours, even before we knew him.
Tewt the Newt is going to get a Kleenex
PS — my other kids? All fine. All troopers. Quinn volunteered to take a turn holding Spuds’ feet so he couldn’t kick me. Sweet, sweet Quinn. He would have gotten the stuffing kicked out of him. A~ is loving college. L~ is loving sideline cheer and is looking forward to competitive season, especially now that she can do back handsprings. Tank Boy has come so, so far over the years, you have no idea (because I never blogged all the nitty-gritty details of just how hard things were with him), and Midge? Good, constant, steady Midge. She brings sunshine to my soul when I want string the boys up by their toes. (I wouldn’t actually do that, obviously). 🙂