Be prepared, this is a long one! If you want the short version of our weekend visit, it’s simply it was so good, but so tiring. If you want the details, read on!
Maybe your first time experience as a mom, if you are one, was similar to mine. Most of my waking minutes—and there were a lot of them—were spent trying to figure out what that little baby was thinking, feeling and wanting and then doing that thing I guessed she needed. Was she hungry? Was she tired? Did she need changed? Does she look uncomfortable? Happy? Stressed? Gassy? It was a round-the-clock effort.
This weekend felt a lot like that. Although maybe that is a bit extreme. I mean, I did have 8 hours of straight sleep the past two nights and didn’t change one diaper.
You might liken this weekend to when you are hosting guests in your house. You worry about their food and their room and what they might want to do later in the day and do they look bored right now? Should I suggest a game? Or a movie? Should we eat in or eat out? When the guests finally leave, although the time was wonderful and you enjoyed their company very much, you finally felt like you could turn off and relax.
Actually, it was a lot like hosting a little boy in your house and you worried a lot about their food and their room and what they might want to do later in the day and do they look bored right now? Is he hungry? Does he look uncomfortable? Is he happy? Stressed? How much video games is too much? What’s that serious face he has right now? What was that thing he just laughed at so we can do it again? What did he just say to her—are they getting along? No, you can’t play more video games. Yes, you have to eat that (and remind me not to cook that again). No, my darling girl, it’s not fair. Life’s not fair!
Basically, I did a lot of parenting this weekend and any parent will tell you, it’s a lot of work.
Add on to that I’m trying to parent a little boy that I don’t know, but I desperately am trying to, it’s plumb exhausting.
I talked with his foster mom when we took him home and told them how exhausted I feel. They said it’s very, very normal and they feel it for a few weeks every time they bring a new child in.
So, let’s set the record straight. This weekend was hard. But, it was also very, very good.
He continued to fit in so well with our family. Let me give you the run-down of what we actually did.
Friday night we had the pleasure of introducing him to our parents and siblings. He’s one of least shy people I’ve ever met. Perhaps in the midst of all the disruption to his life, he has learned how to be adaptable in new situations well. At Scott’s parents, he ran in front of all of us and went right in the front door himself. He made himself at home at both houses and got along well with everyone.
Saturday morning we had a nice breakfast at the house, let the kids play games and watch TV in the morning and then took off for bowling and laser tag with another family with kids similar to ours for the afternoon, we had to read a bowling shoes for men guide first because my boys did not really know which shoes to wear. He really enjoyed both and I think we all had the best fun during those few hours.
Saturday evening we went out for dinner and then relaxed the rest of the evening. By this time, exhaustion was beginning to set in for me. I think Scott ordered me to the bedroom when we got home when he saw me spacing out.
Sunday we were very happy to take him to church with us for the first time. I expected to be super emotional about this, but honestly, it was so very normal. Adoption is certainly nothing new to our church so they know how to handle new kids that may be a little out of their element and of course our friends were gracious and welcoming to him without singling him out too much.
Sunday after church we had dinner with Scott’s parents like we nearly always do and then was happy to play another round of video games over at my parent’s theater room before getting home for some swimming before we had to take him back.
It was hard to say goodbye not knowing when we’d see him again. The only saving grace is the next time we see him will likely be to bring him home. I’m hoping to talk with DSS first thing tomorrow to find out a game plan.
Now, because I want to be real with you, I want to share a few (LITTLE in the grand scheme of things) issues that were particular stressing to me. You’ll see in these how much I hate confrontation. I’m a peacemaker, a phlegmatic, however you want to say it. I don’t like when people aren’t getting along—especially my kids.
First, and don’t laugh, but the kids are stressing me over where to sit in the van. The first few times the girls were accommodating and let him sit wherever he wanted, but through the weekend, they hit their limit. No one wants to sit in the back by themselves. Although I am getting ready to volunteer myself. Put me in the back and let me know when we’re there.
He doesn’t like it because I think he feels like he’s the newcomer so he’s getting stuck by himself back there. The girls don’t like the back because they feel entitled to “their” seats. Seriously, I just sighed out loud because I’m stressed thinking about the arguments. I think we determined by the end of the weekend we’re just going to have to come up with a rotating schedule for each day. How do you other parents deal with this?
Another issue is food. Just everything about it. He’s not a picky eater, but it really, really stresses me not to know the foods he likes. Friday night he didn’t like the salsa chicken I cooked and I suppose that set off the weekend on a bad foot for me mentally. I was then super-stressed about all the food and whether he’d like it. I know this will simply take time to learn.
Add on to it that we’re gluten-free and he’s never even heard the word gluten. It’s fine at the house because I don’t keep anything with gluten, but when we went out, he’d order a bun or something and the girls were mad then because he got gluten and they didn’t. This happened on a few occasions. If I let them have it, then I’m basically letting them get sick. It’s also very confusing to him because he doesn’t even get the gluten thing and why I’m not letting them have the food they want. If I don’t let them have it, then it’s “not fair” because he does get it and they don’t. If I take it away from him, it makes zero sense to him right now. It’s not even my job to manage his diet yet.
So, I don’t know how to handle this gluten thing yet. I can force the issue once he’s with us, explain what it is and explain we’re a gluten-free family. Or, we have different rules for him because he is different. I totally get that that doesn’t feel fair to the girls and really, it’s not fun for me to maintain different snacks or meals to accommodate everyone. Parents, how do you deal with allergy differences between your kids?
The Video Games
And finally, this video game thing is very new to me. He wants to be playing some sort of electronic game all the time. Like, all the time. After some conversations with other boy moms, I hear this might just be a boy thing. My mom says my uncle played Atari all the time. Scott says he played Nintendo all the time. Several boy moms I talked to this weekend say their kids are on the PS3, DS, iPad, etc, etc, all the time. I can sort of relate as my girls would watch TV 24-7 if I let them. However, I feel with games that it’s at least a little more educational/challenging than watching Hannah Montana reruns. Moms of kids who like gaming, how do you manage screen time?
There were some moments, though, that I hope I don’t soon forget.
Friday night hearing him call our parents by their names—Grandma, Pappy, MawMaw and PawPaw.
Him proudly telling me every time he won a round of racing against Scott. “Mom, did you see I won 4 times?!”
Lexi earned some sour patch kids at the arcade and Saturday night when I was putting him to bed, we found a note with the candy that said, “For my little brother”
Sitting at my desk, watching him signaling into the foyer with the flashlight Scott got him from his bed when he woke up Saturday morning because “he wasn’t sure who was up yet.”
Lexi and Emma teaching him to dive in the pool and then encouraging him as he got better.
Running into him at laser tag and watching him smile as he shot me over and over.
Him scaring Lexi in the hall and then Lexi getting him right back.
Him running out the door because he wanted “to hug his sisters” goodbye.
Those moments? Make me totally forget the exhaustion.
God is so very good. Sunday morning at church the pastor preached from Psalm 123 and how God’s provision in the past is a reminder and encouragement that he will continue to provide. I know, I know, I know God’s hand is in this. We’ve already seen it so many times. The good times, the hard times, the exhausting times—I know He will guide us through.
Thank you for sharing your journey! We are not in a place to adopt but I want to pursue the GAL program here and love following stories and hearing the tribulations and trials.
On screen time – my son is a similar age and it is pretty much all they think about! Our house rules have been tweaked over the last few years and they now are wonderful for us. We tried screen-free during the school year and that worked great for our girls but they also ended up being out of the loop a bit socially. We have three responsibilty charts in our house: morning, afternoon, and evening. If they finish everything they have to do before a certain time in the morning (say, 7:15), they may watch cartoons for 15 minutes until the bus comes. In the afternoons, if everything is done and homework is checked off by 5:30, they earn 30 minutes of screen time. That’s it. Fridays and Saturdays are the same but with up to two hours of screen time (not counting a family movie, etc). The hard part is when they don’t meet their time deadline, but it is manageable. There’s always tomorrow and we talk casually about why they missed and how they can fix that next time. Since it is NOT a punishment, I make sure the kid who missed has my attention and is hanging out with me and is not sulking in a corner. good luck!! Boys are certainly different but such a pleasure to raise!!
Traci Best says
We have had all the same type of problems…except slightly exaggerated because our numbers are different. We have three older children and two new pre-adoptive foster sons. They thought they were adorable at first…and then the sibling rivalry sets in! LOL Ours are 13, 13, 12, 9 (almost 10) and 8. The little guys have FAS/E and ADHD so they are well medicated…but there is still a tremendous amount of allowance that has to be made for them because their emotional age does not match their biological age. They are pretty small for their age…particularly Elijah. His FAS/E is worse than Nate’s. He is just barely the same size as his little brother and I just know one of these days Nate is going to pass him up. That will be rough. The big kids do get frustrated by them. It is hard to make it all come out as fair as possible…but then I remind them all “Life isn’t Fair!”. The whole van thing…I told them they would work it out and NOT fight or I would assign seats. 🙂 It is hard on the older ones who feel like they are giving something up…but it is hard on the new ones who feel like they are getting left in the back seat alone…figuratively and literally.
I have STRUGGLED with the food thing too. Our older three kids ate just about anything I gave them…or at least did not complain about it! These two…so not the case! Everything was “weird” to Elijah and he would hand out these comments at dinner time that were spun to be positive…but were really back handed insults. I don’t think he meant anything by it…but it HURT none the less. Particularly when you are so VERY tired and stressed out from the newness of schedule and personalities in the house. One day he said…”Oh. This isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”…about my dinner. The big kids were all looking at me like…oh no! She’s gonna blow! LOL It wasn’t too many more days until we started talking about these little comments and how they can hurt someones feelings and discussed how we might say something different in the future. 😀
Video games were a HUGE issue for them. They desperately want to play…but their fine motor skills just were not there to play the big games on the tv. They would get so angry and pitch a fit…so we just stopped. It took us a little while to come around to it…but we finally figured out to save the DS time for just before bed. IF they had read for 30 minutes that day (we use a timer) they get 30 minutes of DS time in bed after they have put jammies on and brushed teeth. It worked like a charm. Once we got into that habit I never have to encourage them to read, the video game is limited by the timer and they do not dread bed time. It was a win-win-win for us.
There is so much more to say…I know how overwhelming it all is. Please feel free to contact me if you need to talk. <3 You can see pictures and updates of my crew here: https://www.facebook.com/Mom2ThreeAdoptedSibs We are hoping to get our court date soon to finalize.
Car seat choice: in the van we don’t have an issue, but in my car they battle for front seat. We currently rotate – MWF for one, SuTT for the other. Saturdays becomes a free-for-all if we go out a lot. *lol*
Electronics – both of my kids are online constantly. My daughter loves her laptop, and my son loves his 3DS and tablet. I don’t limit their time, but I do limit their online access a lot. I also force The Girl to surf in the TV room if I find she’s spending too much time in her room with her door closed. This summer has been great because between their summer daycare, two weeks away at camp AND a week at my parents they’ve been very unplugged this summer compared to last summer. Don’t know what we’ll do next summer when summer daycare is no longer available and they are home by themselves all day. 🙁