Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sometimes It's Not Just Normal Kid Stuff

Sometimes I think we've jinxed ourselves with a double whammy in the world of parenting.  We are parenting adopted kids, and we are parenting those adopted kids without the the benefit of having parented biological kids of the same age.   The question of what is normal, developmentally appropriate behavior seems to loom awfully large around here.  I realize that really every parent struggles with that to some degree, that there are moments where every parent is concerned that their child is struggling with some behavior that is not "normal."  But when you are parenting a child who has had some large losses, huge transitions, and unique challenges, that question is magnified.

Truth be told, we have one who is struggling a lot right now.  We have an 8 year old who is going on 16, who currently is the source of most of the drama at our house.  It is one child who creates a considerable amount of chaos be it through refusing to following directions, complaining about just about everything, arguing with most requests, picking fights with siblings,  or being reckless with items (as in "let me try to lift up the mini trampoline while my brother is jumping" or "let me jump up and down on the couch to show how angry I am.")  None of it is stuff that other 8 year olds do not do.  But it is intense, often filling the day instead of being spaced out over time like the behavior of other 8 year olds.  It's like when a regular kid has a really, really bad day, where nothing goes right and they are an emotionally wreck, quick to overreact, quick to get angry, quick to grumble and grouse.  But it is that for weeks on end.  Even when you as a parent have done a great job of keeping your cool, diffusing situations, and being consistent, it is exhausting.  For us, there isn't always a lot of predicting what will cause an issue.  Today, the child grumbled at graham crackers because they didn't break cleanly.  Yet, the same child was asked to clean the bathroom as part of pitching in to clean the house and there were zero complaints.  Some of it is just completely irrational. 

 It is not an issue of not knowing.  This kiddo can goes from calm to mad to calm in about 2 minutes.  This child can easily and willingly complete a redo of the interaction, correctly.  This child feels guilt and shame about not doing better.

It's a fine line between the reality of parenting an adopted child who does have a unique history and some unique challenges and the reality of seeing that some of it is just normal kid stuff.  Sometimes I need to hear that it's just normal kid stuff, that what is going on isn't that far outside the realm of normal.  And sometimes I need someone to offer a sympathetic smile, a nod of understanding, and not tell me that it's normal kid stuff.  Because I don't want to have to offer up every misdeed of my child in order to prove that it's really not normal kid stuff.    Because sometimes that simple act of hearing my mom struggles is enough.

1 comment:

Amber said...

It's hard. We're struggling too with our oldest, and like you, are questioning what is age appropriate and what comes from the hard places.
Take it step by step and day by day. It's a challenge but we're never given more than we can handle (even if it seems like we can't handle it sometimes).
Cheers, Amber at