Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tears in his eyes

It has been a bumpy ride during the last few weeks,  besides a stomach bug threatening to ruin our Easter and now Olivia"s and Christopher's birthday party, some dysregulated beahvior has been catching me off guard.  Elijah, on the whole, is an angel.  But, as he becomes more comfortable here, he pushes boundaries, just to see how far he can go.  He is defying me and doing the opposite of what i ask him to do.

Also, some of the behaviors and anxieties he developed in the orphanages are emerging.  For example, he hoards toys and does not want to share them.  He hides things he likes under his bed and in his backpack, and sometimes forgets they are there for weeks.  He even hid our iPad under a piece of furniture in our dining room.  We were wracking our brains trying to figure out where it went, when he piped up and retrieved it.  He is really afraid that he will not get to play with his favorite things again if he doesn't hide them.

This is all hard to deal with because the other kids just don't get it.  Why won't he share like they do (or are supped to)?  Where did Peter's favorite superhero go?  Why is Elijah sulking over something as simple as another child playing with his play phone?  There are a lot of squabbles, and I struggle to find a balance between healing my child's wounds with letting him understand the rules in our family.

But, as Elijah gets more comfortable here, we also see him opening up his heart.  The other day, I was reading a book about dinosaurs to him and Peter.  When we got to a picture of a triceratops, Elijah told us that he had a toy triceratops that he played with "all day long, all day long" (that roughly translates to "all the time" in his 'Chinglish' right now). Then he said "I don't know where it is now."  I asked if it was in his backpack that he brought when he met us.  And he shook his head no, and shrugged his shoulders, repeating "I don't know where it is."

I said, "Oh that is so sad, you lost your favorite toy.  Isn't that sad, Peter."  Peter agreed, and when we turned to look at Elijah, he was tearing up.  He was trying to hide it, and was wiping his eyes.  It was clearly a loss for him.  One of his smaller losses, but a loss nonetheless.  We all know how attached our kids can get to certain toys.  And the fact that he could not count on his favorite things being there is just one example of how uncertain his life has been.

Also, so much of his life has been left behind in China.  I think it is starting to hit Elijah that he is not going back.  And that China is far away.  He tells me he loves Beijing and wants to go back.  I think he means to visit, but who knows.  Maybe he does want to return to his old life in some ways.  And that is okay.

Even though my boy is starting to process some sad emotions, I am so glad he trusts us enough to show them to us.  This is huge for a boy who has been told not to cry for most of his life; that crying is weakness and is something that makes adults uncomfortable or upset.  I am trying my best to just listen to what he says, and to not take anything personally, but just be there for him.  To let him know that showing his feelings is a good thing, and that I won't react negatively.  I want to set this precedent so that when my kids start to want to talk about their adoption stories and birth parents, they know that I am a safe person with whom to share.

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