Parenting seems to be a bit like doctoring. At some point, most every parent raises a hand and repeats a Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. (And I don't necessarily mean physically, although I'm sure each one of us has more than once gritted our teeth and uttered something about promising not cause bodily injury while dealing with our children.) The thing is, parenting is often distilled into doing good by our children.
But doing good is not always so simple. Good does not come labeled. The most applicable ways to do good are not highlighted or marked with post it notes. Truth be told, some days, parenting feels like a final exam where the prep material was significantly different than the questions on the test.
The last few weeks around our house have felt like a never ending testing session, where I've ended most nights with my head in my hands, mulling over a thousand different answers while doubting every single one of them. My indecision has revolved around one of my adopted kids. So while being an adoptive parent does not mean I have a monopoly on that feeling, it does add an extra element to parenting. For my child who has been struggling, it's considering that it might be lack of sleep or our extra busy schedule or Dad's absence for soccer or the end of the school year or Zeke's upcoming surgery or big feelings about a birth family or big feelings about Mother's Day.
It's the question that haunts adoptive parent: is this behavior just normal kid stuff or is there a piece of this that is about loss or outgrowing some orphanage habit or deep seeded questions about identity? The intensity and frequency seem to point towards something other than typical seven year old behavior. We seem to be on a cycle of impulsive behavior (um, no we do not stand on the tables or put sand buckets full of water in our room) followed by redirection followed by sass, eye rolling, and lots of attitude complete with hips and an extended tongue. That's all pretty normal. But it's this cycle that repeats itself often. Maybe three times in ten minutes. And it's exhausting and defeating and irritating. Oh I want to do good by this child. But sometimes, good is not always simple.