Saturday, July 30, 2011

WWF and Swan Lake

This past week, Josh and I spent almost 20 hours in training for older child/children adoptions.  The aim of this training is to better ready parents, who plan to adopt older children, of the difficulties and hope that surrounds their adoptions.  The facilitators do their best to deflate the fairytale that all parents-to-be builds. It's not to discourage older child adoptions.  It's not to direct them to small babies.  It's to prepare us for the struggles that are sure to come.

The time was fruitful.  We left with tons of ideas and a plan in place.  On our midnight ride home, we readied ourselves to re-set the system at home immediately in order to prepare for our newest addition(s).  As seasoned parents, we determined execution wouldn't be too daunting.  Ha!  We roughly underestimated the task at hand.  

Tired from the long week and late night, I met my first opportunity early this morning.  Rough housing as usual, my boys got carried away.  Enter five year old body slamming against older brother, who quite enjoys using his weight to propel brother back four feet, while the two year old beats them both with drum sticks.  I gently approached them according to protocol.  Eye-to-eye, soft and safe touch, playful voice intact, I didn't expect it to work just like the role playing in training, but I did expect something.  There was no notice from the terrific trio.  They continued WWF Wrestling.

The boys' row couldn't be quieted by that timid an approach, so I redirected to level-two as per the plan.  Gentle voice, two choices, and eye contact with a bit firmer touch.  Ummm, hello.  Excuse me.  I'm trying to be the right kind of parent here.  My flitting wasn't working.  I guess the boys didn't take the class.  Ugh.  Plan failing quickly.  I try once more.  "Boys," I gently prod, "Boys, you know this isn't the place for rough housing.  Stop.  You can 1)  Take the rough play to a safe area.  2) Let me escort you to a better place to play.  These are your choices.  What do you choose?"  Really? Good enough plan, but I can't say it was exactly working.  Every ounce of normalcy was heckling me, "Just goose them or talk like a normal parent of four kids, loud and firmly."  Instead, I stuck to the plan.  

Level three.  Firm but kind voice, eye contact (how the heck do I do this without physically accosting the boys, which is not part of the training), directly state they can think about this scenario until they are ready to comply (Must.  Hear.  Voice.  To.  Register.  Directions.  Darn this is hard.), then de-escalate to level 2 and on to 1 as quickly as possible.  Clear throat.  Flit.  Hop.  Skip.  Jump.  Tap tap.  If anyone were watching they would assume I was botching a piece to Swan Lake, not parenting the three boys in front of me.

Then, there was that moment.  The moment I saw the click in our 13 yr old's eyes.  He realized something had been happening.  He realized I had been talking, bouncing, working so hard to get them to obey.  It was almost as if I could see his brain working out the last 10 minutes of the exchange he was only semi-present to experience.  And with all his fervor he looks up, calming the 5 yr old and 2 yr old with a faint "shhh, shhh, shhh" and the waving arm motion.  And he asks with full sincerity, "What is wrong with you?  Why are you talking like that.  That's so...awkward."  

They stopped rough housing, not because my newly learned parenting worked; I think they stopped because they were confused and bothered by the exchange.  I was, too.  It felt very out of body.  I couldn't help but laugh.  I guess we need more training.  Next time, I'm sending the kids.

Mucha Lucha Mez, Mucha Lucha Tiger, and Mucha Lucha Hunter.  Terrific Trio.


  1. I'm glad I'm doing this with you Lori Knight

  2. I didn't know y'all were considering an older child adoption. Been there, done that. It's hard, but I know y'all will do well! If ya want to talk, let us know.