When we were on prep group all those years ago there was some discussion about an adopted child’s (in)ability to cope with the unknown or the unusual or the out of routine things that happen in daily life. As with a lot of other stuff we were told I paid attention but somewhere down the line I began to feel as though the discussion was simply a worst case scenario. Possibly it was after we adopted Girl.
In fact I know that it was after we adopted Girl. I felt as though we were doing well quite well. Things were very rough to start with for a long time. Girl had what social workers like to think of as ‘a good a start to life as can be hoped for’ and we were told all along the way how well we were doing. In hindsight I wish that the social workers had been a little tougher, that they had questioned more of our choices…played devil’s advocate? I heard the line ‘all kids do that’ over and over and being quite naive as to what kids actually do I believed it. Looking back I can see that a lot of Girl’s behaviour was off the scale and we are seeing tell tale signs of not coping with Boy too.
The older Boy grows the more he is becoming a home-body. He needs to be close to home to feel safe. Since adopting Boy we have felt the need to go out at weekends a lot, we have both National Trust and English Heritage passes to keep costs down. When we are out the kids tend to be easier to manage. They don’t have toys to squabble and bicker over, there is less opportunity for outright bossiness and control from Girl. Things are changing though and Boy is struggling with going out, cries to come home.
Since adopting Boy we have been away for three short breaks and a proper holiday in July last year. Every time Boy’s behaviour has been difficult. The first time we couldn’t decide whether it was just because it was a combination of terrible twos, being in close confinement with my parents and our first holiday together (the first time with an adopted child is always going to be a little difficult) The second time we couldn’t decide whether he was just feeling generally grumpy, we tried again a third time but he was poorly so we couldn’t decide whether that was affecting his mood but the fourth time? Well really, there was no denying that there was a pattern emerging. The behaviour the last time (only a month ago) was worse than ever and took a lot of managing, a few tears after bedtime from me because well you know, holidays are supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable but frankly this was not. We both hankered for home.
So this Friday we are off again on our proper holiday for a week in Devon. I am glad we went for the last short break because it has prepared me mentally. Boy has little daily routines and particular ways of playing that I think he really missed so as well as all the regular stuff that you cram into the boot we will be packing a toy workbench and a big box of his favourite toys and hope to put some time aside each day for him to just be how he needs to be.I wish we had room for his coupe, one of his favourite things to do is wash his car daily (we joke that he will be one of those men who cleans and polishes his car every day).
Boy has seen the suitcases around and his behaviour has gone back to difficult after a couple of weeks of good behaviour so I know that we could be in for a roller-coaster ride.
And what about Girl? Well we know that some rudeness, tears and sulking will be inevitable but it’s been four and a half years since we adopted Girl and we are used to it, it’s our norm and we do have a good relationship now so generally things are dealt with quickly.